Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Getting It Together

Okay, guys, I have been working this week to pull together an outline for the upcoming year. I am no where near finished, but I am feeling a lot more prepared than I did last weekend. 

I now have a plan. A vague plan, but a plan. A direction. 

On Monday I told you that I am leaning heavily toward the Charlotte Mason camp in homeschooling. I love that it's relaxed, but purposeful. I love the nature component. I like that school is guided by the parent but that the student must take some responsibility for learning. 

I like her idea of education in general: "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? 

So with all that in mind, and with some help from Pinterest (thank you Pinterest), I've come up with a weekly schedule, a themes list through December, and an outline for the fall semester (mostly empty at this stage of the game).

First, our weekly schedule.
I used the weekly schedule found here to help create our own schedule.

I do want to note a couple of things.

1. Although Outside Time is specifically noted just once a day, my plan is to take many of the other activities out of doors as well, including lunch and snacks if the weather is nice. 

2. I am only building a formal reading and math time into the schedule once a week. My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, last year I think I tried to do too much and I burnt myself out by the middle of the year. And secondly, I'd love for learning to be much more natural this year. For example, math concepts can be built into baking day. And we'll be practicing letters and handwriting with our nature journals. I want Daniel's learning this year to be a natural part of his day, not a sterile, separate activity. I do think those separate activities have their place, especially to review concepts that are giving him a hard time... I just don't want that to be the main part of "school" for him. 

3. I do want to explicitly work on a habit each morning as well as throughout the day. At least, that's the plan so far. I still need to come up with some ideas for how to explicitly teach those habits. Definitely still working on that one.

Next up, our themes list.
I'm excited about these. As much as I could, I tried to come up with themes that lent themselves to the Charlotte Mason approach, themes that would naturally take us outside, or, perhaps, let us bring the outside in. I want Daniel to be able to make first hand observations and connect the things he learns with what he already knows. 

Many of the themes were taken directly out of Maureen Spell's ebook, Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers. You can download a copy of this ebook for yourself for $3.99, and it's full of great printables for creating nature journals with preschoolers.

There are a couple themes I threw in there just because I know he'll love it, dinosaurs being one. He's already mentioned that he wants to learn about dinosaurs in school. We can't go outside to observe living dinosaurs, but I've been thinking about setting up a dig. How fun would that be?

Finally, our outline for the fall semester. This is the biggie, the giant, and, sadly, almost completely empty. I've got a lot of work to do.
My goal is to plan out each month a week or two in advance and post the upcoming month's schedule before we begin. That means... I will have all of September planned out by next week. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck. Posting our monthly schedule is as much for me as it is for you. Maybe it'll keep me on track ;)

Well, that's it. 

So far. Organizing my brain around what a Charlotte Mason homeschool day might look like for my preschooler was the hard part. Coming up with the ideas for filling out those themes will be (I hope) the easier part. 

If you take the Charlotte Mason approach with your homeschool, I'd love your feedback. Any tips or suggestions for things you think are noticeably missing are appreciated! Thank you!

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