Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Plan to Prepare, But Prepare to Be Flexible

You need to do some careful planning before the school year starts. If you are creating your own curriculum and planning to rely on a lot of online resources, it's important to set your goals for the year. Then break it down into smaller goals. For me, I've found that creating a plan each week on the blank monthly calendar really fits for us. Each week, I adjust based on the work we actually accomplish and then I put everything we accomplished on a monthly tracking sheet. This system works great because I can keep pretty detailed records but it also allows me to adjust for the days where we accomplish more than we had planned, or those fun days where getting one worksheet done is like slow torture for both of us. Sometimes on those days, it's much easier to step back and try again the next day. As long as we stay on track overall, the work will get done.

I am also learning to be flexible with the type of work we are doing. During the fall, a lot of our language arts and science was based on hands on activities and field trip experiences. There are so many great places to visit here in the fall and it was nice to be able to not only learn facts, but to see them applied. I am a firm believer in going beyond memorization and learning so that you can apply information and have a deeper understanding of important concepts. I remember my favorite junior high math teacher (totally kidding--her class was probably my most frustrating and confusing class that I have ever taken in my life), and she always answered any "why" questions with "that's how it is and if you went to China, the little boys and girls there would be doing it the exact same way." I am going to do my hardest to never answer a school question with a basic "just because" or "that's just how it's done"

Ok, so that little tangent is over, and I mainly want to say that I love the flexibility of homeschooling, but it's also important to keep up on planning of some sort. If you don't plan, you're going to have a harder time getting motivated, especially when Monday morning rolls around and you're not ready to tackle school. And just remember that some days will be amazing and everything will seem to click, but there will be those days where you're ready to throw in the towel. On those days, take some deep breaths, and remember all the positives--like not going out at a ridiculously early hour in the cold to drop off a tired little one at school :)

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