Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Plans & Possibilities Introduction

My end-of-May focus was to get our home, and thus homeschool, in a better physical condition.  Although I have not met this goal completely, I have managed to make some visible strides and feel that our family has developed a few habits and routines that will help us continue to progress on our mission despite my growing belly and our crazy upcoming family schedule and commitments.  Thus, as I turned the calendar page yesterday, I decided to make a change in my homeschooling focus, too.  In June, since I am comfortable that we will continue to progress towards our Order in the Home(school) goal even if the focus towards it is nudged aside a bit by other things, I am declaring a new primary goal: Plans & Possibilities for Jammies School.

Why this particular goal at this particular time?  Why push myself to outline ideas for next homeschool year at the very time many homeschoolers are wrapping up their studies, and, thus, their planning, taking a break before preparing for Fall.  Well, with Baby on the way, I know that if I do not plan now, I may never do so.  And, thus, when Luke’s official Kindergarten age comes round in December, I may find myself still meandering along the homeschooling path in a very casual, see-what-we-will-see, do-what-we-will-do way if I do not begin pre-planning now.

Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with this indirect path.  In fact, we have been managing on it with fair success for a while now, and I know that a large number of people have been doing so for years on end.  Unschoolers, many of these folks call themselves.  And, and even without “schooling” they manage to train and teach their children extraordinarily well.

I admire these folks and see how the philosophy of Unschooling might fit our home circumstances and our kids’ personalities at times.  Yet, I also face a couple facts that make me realize the Unschooling approach may not the best long-term one for our family.  One of our children (if not both) lives best with regular rhythms and routines.  Unschooling (at least with me at the helm) doesn’t always mesh with these.  And, one parent (That would be me!) is a born Type A – maybe even OCD type, if you ask some friends and family – underneath the clutter of life.  Hence, a more structured approach appears to be in order...

Undeniably, with me as the main Jammies School guide, it only makes sense that our homeschooling journey follows routes I am most comfortable with.  I am a planner. I thrive on checking off lists, researching ideas, brainstorming creative plans.  So, I readily admit that even though I have been managing with an Unschooling-by-default homeschool endeavor for a while now, the philosophy is not the best match for this Mama Educator’s personality.  In truth, I “need” a detailed plan in mind, if not on paper, even if I veer from it dramatically.  With this in mind, my June focus commences.

My intention is create a year’s worth of Plans & Possibilities as this month goes on (or at least as many moth’s worth as circumstances and focus allow.)  I will do this as both a way for me to synthesize my own thoughts with the wonderful ideas I have gleaned from others through books, blogs, etc and  as a way for me to offer ideas back to folks who might benefit from them.  As such, over the next month, I hope to crank out (and post!) brainstormed lists of Plans & Possibilities for each month of the year based on the categories that follow.  Mind you, these lists will definitely be “brainstorms”, not “to-do” ones.  Consequently, they will definitely be works in progress. 

I am sure to add, cut and adapt Plans & Possibilities ideas as we actually move throughout the year.  I am just as likely to only delve into exploring a few of the listed possibilities with the kids as I am to follow some rabbit trails to things unlisted as the months ahead unfold.  That being said, it is my hope that Plans & Possibilities will still serve as a “paper brain” and inspiration for a successful year of Jammies School, helping to map our journey with both structure and flexibility – especially when upcoming sleepless nights of baby-growth-spurt nursing or “I need Mama, too” older-children-needs pop up..  Perhaps, Plans & Possibilities will help others, too.  For ideas shared often grow exponentially in unexpected and delightful ways! 

So, with no further explanation or ado, let me share the framework I intend to use when brainstorming each list.  Your comments, suggestions, ideas, links and related thoughts on tweaking it or fleshing it out are most welcome!

Our Core Four:
-          Faith Formation: Liturgical Season; Liturgical Monthly Focus; Feast Days and Memorials of Note; Bible Story Focus; Catechism Focus; Scripture Focus; CSG Focus; Etc.
-          Reading: Read Alouds; Seasonal Book Baskets, Boxes and Bins; Alphabet Focus; Phonics and Reading Focus: Literacy Goals; Poems and Nursery Rhymes; Etc.
-          Writing: Dot-to-Dot and Maze Themes; Copywork Ideas and Phrases; Etc.
-          Arithmetic: Math Games; Math Concept Focus; Etc.
-          Habit Training: Character Focus; Habit Focus; Etc.
-          Sensory Stuff: Seasonal Ideas and Activities
-          Nature: Moon; Weather; Animals; Plants; Etc.
-          Food (and Power Foods Lab): Foods in Season; Power Food Possibilities; Special Day Recipes: Etc.
-          Enrichment: Art Ideas; Music Ideas; Etc.
-          Home & Garden: Practical Training about Seasonal Maintainance, Home Cleaning and Organization, Household Habits, Home Improvement Projects, Etc.
-          National, Local and Other Observances: Federal Holidays; Cultural Holidays; Random Days of Honors; Local Events; Etc. that we might explore
-          Family Life: Birthdays; Special Events; Etc. that we can explore, prepare for, celebrate and focus learning activities around
-          Field Trips & Outings: Free and Low Cost Places to Go; Seasonal Parks; Etc.
-          Special Interests: TBD based on kids

As I move forward fleshing out this framework for each month, one place I know I am sure to borrow many ideas from is By Sun and Candlelight’s Themes and Plans posts.  Although I have never met nor had personal contact with their author Dawn, I find that she is a Godsend to me.  Often, as I Google for ideas and thoughts, I am led to her blog, which is soooo rich in relevant information that, at times, it seems written just for me.  So, thank you, Dawn, for all you do and share that makes my homeschooling (and faith) journey (and that of others) that much richer.  And, others, if you have links to other inspirational writing of your own or others, please share!

Now, onto June planning...


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