Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flexibly Organizing Your Homeschool

Here's the post you've all been waiting for! I know you've all been there. You get that motivation over the summer to get all of your lessons lined out for the new year. You print copies, make folders, gather supplies, and mark up your calendar. After about two months, you have scratched out and thrown out all of your hard work because things just didn't go as planned. Can you say frustration. While this is all with good intent, this is not the way to start off your homeschool year.

I, however, can not function without some semblance of organization. After trial and error, trial and error, I finally devised a way that works perfectly for me. It is simple, flexible and still keeps us very well organized. Here's how I do it:

1) Remember our discussion about time slots? I use this information to figure out how many classes of a particular subject I will have. For example, if I decided that we would do math every day and school 170 days, then I will have 170 math lessons to plan. Sometimes the number of lessons is decided by the curriculum you use.

2) I make a printout that simply numbers however many lessons (170) and a blank spot to fill in what subject we will cover, and page numbers or other activities.

3) I then, over the summer, take each subject individually and look through the books. I divide it up into however many lessons I need and decide how many pages or what projects I will do for each lesson. For example, on day 27 we might do math pages 78-79 covering double digit addition, and a flash-card review.

4) Then I don't do anything until the week before! Each week I sit down and plan for the next school week. I look at each subject and put the next weeks lessons on the planner. That way, if we aren't progressing as far in Reading as we are in Spelling, I can change the week's schedule to accommodate that. If we have a dentist appointment on Tuesday followed by Homeschool Co-op, then I can plan to do Tuesday's lessons on Monday. It allows the freedom to plan each week, or day, as it comes and still keep track of how you are progressing in each individual subject. This works fabulous for me. If you are looking for a new method to getting organized but need to stay flexible (because, say, you are a homeschooling youth pastor's wife) then try this out!

What methods have worked for you??

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Defining Your Homeschool

One of the most important aspects of homeschooling is to be able to define your homeschool. Why have you made this choice? (click here for Why I Homeschool)  In your opinion, what is the most important part of homeschooling?

One of the speakers this weekend was Todd Wilson, from Family Man Ministries. He posed a really great question in one of his sessions: If you left their school because you didn't like their school, then why do you want your school to be like their school? I know I am guilty of this. I have tried my hardest to get our school to match up to the public school system. That's when it hit me. Besides adhering to our state requirements, I have freedom. I have freedom that I have not been utilizing! Yet, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "With freedom comes responsibility." You have the responsibility to organize your homeschool to meet the responsibilities before you - keeping in mind your child's spiritual welfare, their educational advancements, their social abilities. But all of these must come in their proper place, in the order of importance that they are to you!

You must define your homeschool. What is the most important part (and I would challenge you that the most important part is your relationship with your child.)? Whatever the most important part is, your homeschool schedule and organization and set-up should reflect this.

Above all else, I want my children to find a real relationship with Jesus Christ and desire to serve Him wholeheartedly. Secondly, I want my children to love learning and to be challenged to go as far as they possibly can in their pursuit of learning! Confession time. Last year, I was so focused on the amount of work we were accomplishing in a set amount of time that I was not showing the joy of the Lord or many of the other fruits of the Spirit that I was claiming I wanted to cultivate in my children. I was so busy with all the other areas of my life that I was pushing school through, not taking time to do extra projects or discuss what they were learning. Basically, I was sucking all the life out of our learning time. In an effort to deconstruct our homeschool and rebuild, I asked Princess Buttercup what changes she thought we should make. The dear, sweet girl replied that she liked everything about school except for me "pushing" her and making her hurry. I was so close to ruining her love for learning, which is one of my most important purposes of homeschooling! As I begin to make plans for next year, I will keep in mind our purpose, the most important parts of homeschooling, so that I can make sure that all my plans reflect this purpose.
My commitment for next year:

I vow to display the joy of Christ within me and to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit, no matter how many times we have to review our addition problems.

I vow to do lots of hands on, engaging projects.

I vow to be silly, laugh and giggle as we explore the amazing world God has placed us into!

I vow to not say "hurry up" even once all year!

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. --Ephesians 6:4
What are your primary purposes for homeschooling? How does your homeschool reflect this purpose? Share with us!