Friday, January 14, 2011

Planning, planning!

With the dismal failure of our summer break last year, I decided that we would suddenly be joining the group of "school-year-rounders".  I was not too excited about this, but I knew that I was NOT going to do another 3 month summer break.  After I realized that there are SO many different ways to plan a school year, I started to get more enthusiastic.  Here are just a few of the mathods I read about:

The "public school" homeschool.  This is what I had planned on doing (schedule wise, not curriculum wise).  I will leave my mind open to this for later years, when the children have friends and activities in the summer.  However, for us this did NOT work last year, for so many reasons.

The 8 (or 9) on, 2 off method.  What I thought of first when I started thinking about changing our plans.  I like this idea for several reasons.  I like the idea of having a few weeks off to regroup (and re-plan) every so often.  I like the idea of SHORT breaks for the kids, so they can have time to relax and play but not enough time to get bored and naughty.  And forget everything they learned.  :)  This is what my mother did when I was in elementary homeschool.

The semester method.  I don't know what to call this, so "semester" will have to do!  This method has the school year divided up into two semesters, much like the public school system, but each break is longer- maybe a month each in the summer and winter, and a month or three weeks in the spring and fall.  I like some parts of this plan, too.  I like having longer fall and spring breaks when the weather is nice.

The Just-Keep-Swimming method:  This is from "Finding Nemo"- you just keep swimming.  Take a break when you need it.  Keep going when you need it (Yes, as weird as it may seem, we homeschooling moms sometimes just NEED to do school!  That routine is really nice.)  When you get to the end of your school year (many states have some kind of minimum requirements, whether it is in hours, days, or both. ) you start the next one.  Easy Peasy.  However unplanned this may seem, it, too, has some perks.  Like the take-a-break-when-you-need-it part.  Sometimes, for whatever reason you just need some time off with no warning.  You get sick.  You get tired.  The house is really messy.

I finally decided that Just Keep Swimming is the one for us, in this season of our lives.  I really need planning to keep me going, and I like detailed plans.  I like to know exactly what I am going to be doing each morning, because that keeps us moving along quickly and keeps the kids from running off.  But because the kids are so young I have to have that flexibility.  If I get sick, I can't just send them to the table with a bunch of workbooks or reading.  If we have an unexpected task (like the wonderful boxes of corn that we got last year) my attention cannot be on school.  I need that ability to skip a week and just wait till next week- without it throwing off our plan.  So I need short term-detail, and long-term flexibility.

This has worked so well for us!  I can plan ahead, which saves me time.  But I am not thrown off if I take an unexpected break or have to do something else for a week or two.  I can always push my next unit back a week.  I typically plan everything based on weeks, so it is easy to skip, switch, and push my ideas around wherever they fit.

I was working toward having science-heavy units for the four months before our Christmas break, and history-heavy units for the last four months of the school year.  This winter/spring, we will be working through the ancients- Egypt, Greece, and Rome.  I am leaving out the smaller civilizations for now, since we will be back again in 4 years or so and will cover them in more depth at that time.  Plus I need to leave time for my reviews in there, and I don't know ahead of time what they will be or when.

This spring, after our 3-4 week break, we will be back on science and I want to start a 8-10 week study on insects.  That may change, who knows!  That is the fun of this plan.  You know where your going but it doesn't matter if you end up somewhere else.

How do you plan your school year?  What changes have you made to your plans this winter?


  1. We have been schooling year-round for several years now. I spent a few summers doing nothing with my kids, and about pulled my hair out in those 3 months. I swore I would never do that again. If they get bored, I get a little crazy. So if I have to plan something for them to do anyway, it might as well be educational! We generally stick to the "semester method," but still have the flexibility of the "just keep swimming" method. Both work really well for us. We have plenty to do, don't get bored, and can take off whenever we want or need to, like in the spring for a park day or for a month and a half over the holidays! You're going to LOVE year-round schooling with all its flexibility!

  2. I often think of "just keep swimming" when I don't want to do something. It's kinda me personal motto. I'm happy to know I'm not the only one that has that stuck in her head!


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