Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Planning a New Homeschooling Year

Yes, I's only the end of June.  But with little Cricket about to make her appearance any day now, I've been getting all my planning done early!  And, I learned the hard way last year that saving my homeschool planning for the very. last. minute does not turn out well for me or for the crew.  So...hard lessons learned and with all the enthusiasm of summer, I am happily planning!

~ New this year ~

Prepared Curriculum 
We're going back to a set curriculum for this year.  I tried the "design your own" approach last year, and found that {because I hadn't done enough legwork over the summer} I just could not keep up with lesson planning.  Everything felt very...jumbled.  "Non-essential" subjects kept getting pushed off because I just didn't know what I wanted us to do.

After some research, and taking into account that I really wanted a Classical curriculum, we settled on Angelicum Academy for this year.  I love the rigor of this curriculum and the way that it works to prepare children for a Great Books experience in the high school years.  It's what I wanted to design for my children, but with all the benefits of ready-to-go lesson plans, accountability {for myself and the kids}, and transcripts.  This will be the backbone of our schooling, but I am adorning it with a little Charlotte Mason-based training. 

Considered Booklists
I have to thank Jen at Wildflowers & Marbles for inspiring me with this idea {and the next one as well}.  I have long wanted to build booklists for my children ~ they are all avid readers, but it is so easy to get bogged down in the swamps of "pop fiction" on trips to the library!  So, taking their history studies into account, I'm working on creating booklists that will really make it a "living history" experience.  It will also include fun ~ but classic ~ choices that have nothing to do with their schoolwork, just to keep their imaginations busy!

Jen's post on building a considered booklist is so thorough and has such a fantastic and comprehensive list of resources that I'll just link to it here.  It's where I started, and I recommend you try it too!

Morning Basket
This is another delicious idea I picked up over at Wildflowers & Marbles.  I have been longing for a way to bring our whole family together for consistent, quality learning and prayer time in the mornings, and this seems like a lovely solution!  It's one of the things I am looking forward to the most, in fact!  I'll do another more detailed post on what resources I'm planning to incorporate in this time; for now, I'll just explain how I plan to use the basic idea in our school routine.

This will be our first schooling block of the day, and it is designed to include everyone ~ yes, even the littles!  Our routine will incorporate morning prayer, music appreciation, poetry memorization, scripture memorization, art appreciation, and "nature appreciation".  Everyone will have age-appropriate activities based on the day's focus, and I think it will provide a beautiful, integrated start to the day!

Tea Time
I have four boys.  I have four boys who need serious help with table manners.

Enter the concept of "afternoon tea".  We do an afternoon snack time anyway.  But this will be a chance for Mother to focus on manners training.  I hate nagging them {nevermind for a moment that Charlotte Mason admonishes mothers never to nag} at mealtimes about their manners, and it's my hope that having a set time when they can focus on this skill will translate into better manners at meals and thus family harmony at the table!  Tea Time will be a fun time as well, with a read-aloud selection that we can all enjoy along with our snack.  I am planning to serve a more formal tea on Fridays, with more elaborate offerings and a chance for the boys to show off the skills they've learned that week.  More on this later too as my planning evolves!

Habits Training
Charlotte Mason says ~ and she's absolutely right ~ that habits are inevitable.  But we do our children {not to mention ourselves} a great disservice if we allow habits to grow up like weeds.  I've noticed some unpleasant habits cropping up in my children's behavior, and so one of my goals this year is to work consistently on building good habits.

Charlotte's method suggests focusing on one habit at a time, for four to six weeks at a time.  Every infraction must be caught and corrected with {and this is key} mother's attitude of expectant encouragement {not nagging}.  I plan to use this method for myself as well!  In pursuing this goal, I'm using the Laying Down the Rails handbook available at Simply Charlotte Mason.

Those are my major projects for this year, and I'm very excited to work at living them out!  I think sometimes that it is too easy not to be intentional about homeschooling.  And it's so easy to slip out of being intentional into being...well, sloppy, for lack of a better word.  We let things slide.  We excuse ourselves because it's difficult to live intentionally and consistently!  I try to remind myself {and don't succeed as often as I'd like} that our children are only ours to hold for a very short time, and that we hold them in trust for their Heavenly Father.  Our whole mission on this earth is to set their little feet firmly on the path to Heaven, to inspire in their little hearts a fervent love of God.  Everything needs to work toward this end, whether it's a math worksheet or a Latin drill or the family Rosary. 

God give us the grace to see it done!


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