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I feel like we have gone through so many evolutions of our homeschool weekly schedule. We might be moving along happily for a little while but then we’ll start to grow in some area, or our interests will shift and our weekly rhythm just doesn’t seem to be working for us any more.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I think that it is so important for us to be flexible and open to change when change is necessary.
The biggest change this year, from last, is that we now have our beautiful homeschool studio. I feel so very fortunate to have this amazing space for Jack (6.75yrs) & Sarah (4.5yrs) to play, explore and learn. I really must get on to giving you the tour! Today though, we’re talking planning 🙂
So on to my planning for this year. As always, there are two main things I take into consideration when planning for the year, #1 – what are Jack and Sarah’s interests and needs, and #2 – what are my departmental obligations.
#2 is going to be very different depending on where you live. Some states require you to show evidence of specific outcomes. Homeschoolers in other areas are required to follow a specific curriculum. While other states require you to show evidence of learning for a certain number of days and a minimum number of hours a day. And other states simply require homeschoolers to show progress from the beginning of the year to the end.
It is so varied, making it so important to know what your state requirements are and consider those in your planning.
This year, both Jack and Sarah are registered for home education. Even though Jack is technically in Grade 2 and Sarah would be in Kindergarten (the year before Grade 1 here), we mostly all learn together. Here’s our weekly schedule:
Pretty cruisy, hey? Making time for play is a real priority as is dedicating time for Jack and Sarah to delve deeper into their inquiry work.
We usually get started anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30. Morning Session #1 (maths & language) usually lasts about an hour. We are still using the Maths-U-See workbooks. I really like these workbooks for consolidation. They are perfect for Jack – no distracting colours or pictures, just text and sums.
For language work, we use a lot of hands-on manipulatives for exploring language. Language is of course embedded naturally in so much of what Jack and Sarah do throughout day so in these sessions we are really working on handwriting, sight words and spelling conventions. I’ll share some of the language materials we are using in another post 🙂
Wooden koala from Little Joey Toy Co. | Artificial grass square from Daiso
Morning Session #2
This is when Jack and Sarah will either choose to play outside in the mud kitchen, Jack will often build Lego (he’s currently working on designing his own architectural buildings) or play with some of the activities I have set up on the shelves or the light panel in the studio. This session usually goes for about an hour before we all get a little hungry.
Drawing Session & Art
Jack is an avid drawer, he draws to make sense of the world. He draws his emotions and experiences. I really wanted to nurture this passion with a dedicated drawing session. So this year I have bought this book, Drawing Projects for Children. I am really happy with this book. It introduces children to a range of different drawing materials and techniques through very achievable (but still inspirational) drawing projects.
Previously, we have used some really wonderful art books which I can highly recommend, including:
- The Language of Art: Inquiry-based Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings – If you are looking for a book to really get you started in inquiry-based art, then this is the book to get! I really don’t think I can over state the impact this book had on my approach to art. The book is intended for Early Childhood teachers but the examples of how to introduce different art mediums to children and the sample dialogues, teaching you how to talk to children about their art, have been invaluable to me.
- Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper and Mixed Media for Budding Artists of all Ages
- 3D Art Lab for Kids: 32 Hands-on Adventures in Sculpture and Mixed Media
- It’s Not a Bird Yet: The Drama of Drawing – this book isn’t an art book as such, but a really inspiring look at the development of children’s drawing and shows how drawing is a powerful tool used by children to express their learning and understanding.
Morning Session #3: Inquiry Work
Our Inquiry Work sessions can last anywhere from half an hour to well over two hours; and anything really goes in these sessions. They are entirely child-led. My role during these sessions is to listen and observe, take notes, find materials, help out with problems that might come up, support their ideas and try to say yes as much as possible.
Life cycle of a plant figurines from Safari Ltd.
These sessions can be quiet reading, sketching or watching YouTube videos, or they can be loud and enthusiastic as they create large models or cut and collage furiously. Anything goes. When the session seems to be coming to its natural end for the day, I ask Jack and Sarah (if they haven’t told me already – Jack usually does), what they would like to do tomorrow. I’ll write this down in my notebook – if your children are happy to write, they can make their own plans in their own notebooks – along with any materials that I might need to have ready.
Jack always has a project on the go. He has so many ideas, and pursues each with such passion. This makes Inquiry Work a breeze for him. But, if your little one’s interests, like Sarah’s aren’t always as obvious, Inquiry Work can be a little trickier. You have to resist the urge to create an interest for them. If the work is going to be meaningful for them, then they have to develop the interest themselves.
For Sarah, we will play a lot. We’ll build puzzles, play board games and read books. I’ll set out provocations for her that I think she’ll enjoy and then watch her play. I’ll see if there is an interest there and if there is, I’ll try and build on that. Sometimes the interest will peter out, but other times she’ll come up with an idea of something she’ll like to create or explore further. We just have to be patient.
Project group is possibly our favourite time of the week. Together with two other families (six kids all together), we meet once a week for the kids to work together on topics which interest them. They collaborate and problem solve to build things, they explore scientific concepts together, share ideas and present thoughts. They document their own learning and encourage each other. It’s really wonderful. Last year, the kids built a cable car from recyclables, studied microbes, watch a banana decompose, made their own compost (and recorded the temperature inside) and planted seeds. This year, they are investigating Ancient Egypt.
Pattern cards and shapes from Spielgaben
And I think that might be it, for now. This is our week. Jack and Sarah have two afternoon classes each and meet outdoors fortnightly with our co-op group. They play a lot, read, draw and paint. We potter around the kitchen garden and take inpromptu outings. We go for bike rides and play at the park. We bake, watch a little TV and all help out with the chores. Just simple things really.