Saturday, 31 August 2013

Planning and Gearing Up

Way back in July I came downstairs from settling the younger two boys in bed, and found Eldest on the kitchen floor, surrounded by felt pens and crouched over a 6-page calendar that he was making (to the end of 2013), copying dates off our kitchen calendar.  He looked up at me and asked "When does the summer holiday finish?"  I was tempted to get all deep and philosophical, waxing lyrical about our entire lives being a holiday, not needing to put a "Start-of-Term" date in writing, but I knew that he - like his Mum - really appreciates planning ahead, as long as it's not too rigid... and it was his calendar, his idea after all!  So after a few minutes dithering I finally suggested the first week of September, with the option to review when we got there.  And onto his calendar it went.

Well, here we are (or will be on Monday).  And the timing is pretty perfect.  The boys and I are all gearing up, feeling ready to get back into the flow.  They've chosen their subjects for their next lapbooks (Eldest: food chains; Middle: dinosaurs; Youngest: sharks), and I've drawn up a little plan, with their help.  I love planning, and spent most of our first year of Home Ed fighting my natural desire to order and construct mini-curricula etc, out of a well-meaning but slightly misguided desire to give my boys all the 'freedom' they needed.  Then I found the blog posts mentioned in This is our Home Ed Style, and felt freed myself to incorporate a little structure.

So here is our plan...

You'll notice it's very sparse: just two or three ideas per day, which allows lots of space for the boys to follow more of their own interests for the rest of the day.  It is not a timetable as there are no times when things have to be done (other than the clubs) - it just helps us to have a broad outline to get us focused each day.  If the boys (or I) have an idea that they want to try in the near future, they can write it on a post-it and stick it to the planner, then we will make it happen at the next opportunity!  The subjects with smileys are the only parent-required ones (everything else is optional but stuff I know the boys like doing) - and I thought that seeing as they are "work", they can carry a little reward.  For a long time the boys have wanted some kind of box of goodies to swap their 'merits' for, like they had in school, and although I resisted, seeing it as a form of bribery that I believe has no place in fostering a love of learning, we have compromised on just the bare minimum.  So for every smiley subject that is completed, the boys get to stick a smiley sticker onto their colour-coded post-it (top of planner), and at the end of the week they can swap their smileys for some sweets/ wii-time/ whatever they choose to have in the smiley box.  I'm not 100% happy with it still, but we'll give it a go and see.

So there we have it: our sort-of-plan for the term.  We're all enthusiastic and ready to go... I'll let you know how we get on!

PS If anyone's interested, for our planner we used one of those magic whiteboard sheets that adheres to a surface by way of static - no adhesive needed... love it!

PPS To clarify, for anyone who really wants to know, on Tuesday afternoons a friend and I swap some of our children so she can take her son and Eldest to Science club, while I have her youngest here with my other two for fun with Science.  Oh, and Nature club is on alternating Wednesdays, so on the other ones we visit friends!

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