Okay, so its not really mid-year for us. We school year round with extensive breaks sprinkled throughout. The schedule might be a bit lighter in the summer months when the weather beckons us out, but when its too hot to even be outside it gives us something to do.
After a three week break in December I decided to redo my teaching materials and planner, add some new things, and restructure some subjects. Flexibility! It goes in the pros column when it comes to homeschooling, and really life for that matter.
First things first. Mama’s organization! I had been looking for a planner. Admittedly I was quite picky. Most of them had too much stuff. Stuff I would never use. I wanted something simple, clean, streamlined. The Simple Homeschool Planner over at The Art of Simple was the answer. It’s downloadable for $4. Money well spent in my opinion. You can print the pages as many times as you want, which means its reusable year after year. I mean, surely you can find a calendar to print to replace the 2013-2014 one once this year is over? Some of the things included that I was very excited about are: weekly routine, student goals, curriculum list, a page for enrichment activity ideas, a page for memory work ideas, this week in school pages, independent reading pages for each student (and for mom), books read out loud, a color wheel, multiplication tables, and an inspirational quotes list. Did I mention the awesome chalkboard quote prints that come with it? You can print them out on cardstock or photo paper and they are frame worthy. I printed one of my favorites on photo paper and stuck it in the front of my binder for inspiration.
I really had a good time putting these sheets to use. It took my binder from mildly organized to really organized and actually working for me and our homeschool.
I am particularly smitten with the pages I use for the kids individual schedules. They like to see what is going on that day and the progress they have made so far. It eliminates them always asking what we have left to do.
We added a few new things to our days here at Cove Academy. I was looking to further our writing curriculum and a friend loaned me Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing With Ease. So far I am loving it!
To add a bit more fun to our long weeks of schoolwork, I began plotting out scheduled playdays. Does scheduled sound like it takes the fun out of spontaneous days skipping school to goof off? Maybe. But at least they get the fun, and I don’t lose my mind.
Our playdays are planned by one child. They have a list of fun stuff to choose from, or they can think up their own awesome ideas. Some of the stuff on the running list include: play board games, go hiking, cook something yummy, take a day trip, nature journal outside, watch science/nature shows, art all day, make stuff for DIY.org. Stella had the honor of planning our first official playday. She chose a variety of things. First she wanted to go to the new paint your own pottery and craft store, Chameleon Arts. Then it was lunch with Grandma next door at American Artisans. Where we ate at a table covered with the Fab Four. That took our morning and early afternoon. When we came home she wanted to make stuff for DIY.org and finish the day up with documentaries. I am making sure to write down what was chosen for that playday and I ask the kids at the end what their favorite part was and I write that down as well. Playdays are scheduled for two random days each month.
As for reworking some things that just weren’t working, I had been watching Stella slowly and steadily being worn down by the drudgery that is Saxon Math. So a few days out of the week, her Math lesson goes to the whiteboard, or we skip certain parts of the repetitive counting. I’ll have her answer things out loud, or write them on the board. Just a few things to keep it interesting.
Another thing that really helps my sanity and the kids productivity, is having a clean workspace each morning. So every evening or afternoon depending on when we finish, we make a group effort to pick it up!
And we always make sure to fit in a bit of spontaneous learning in our day. Today it was discussing Pangea and the layers of the Earth, one day last week it was planting seeds with Daddy.
One last fun thing! If your kids haven’t discovered DIY.org yet, please send them over there immediately. It is a great place to jump off into child-led learning. My little darlings are finding all sorts of inspiration and using their skills to be awesome and share it with other like-minded, self-motivated kids.