I’m often asked HOW I plan all my lessons since I haven’t found a curriculum that will fit the needs of Worley Academy yet. I can never really tell if people are asking, “HOW do you plan your own curriculum?” or nicely saying “Your completely insane and making this way harder than it needs to be!” Either way, here it goes:
First, I decide on WHAT I’m going to add to our usual school. We have very little purchased curriculum so I’m currently “writing” my lessons each week. We use Saxon Math 3 (which we don’t love) but we do some kind Math everyday so I do write in other activities like BINGO and cooking. We also do Science everyday, but only use Apologia (which we LOVE) one of those days, and the rest are mixed with other science activities. We do Geography as the Flat Boys check in from their travels, and History when I think about it. I know History is important, but I’m weak in that area. Samuel is currently reading Pages of History by Veritas Press and LOVES it. I hope they come out with the second book soon. Eventually I’ll write that into the lessons…eventually. I also have to add in time each week for Piano practice and theory lessons, Tae Kwon Do practice and lessons, AWANA verses and extra credit work, Tennis lessons and practice, swim lessons, basketball practice (which is about to switch to T-ball) and field trips. Despite popular belief my children are socialized and we are not hermits.
Once I transfer all of those times into the new week I start to hunt and gather.
Remember that big, clear part on my new desk…it’s about to fill up very quickly!
After I decide a theme (or topics) we want to study, I go to the boy’s book shelves and see what we have. For example, this week we’re studying butterflies, ants and ladybugs to coincide with the habitats we currently have in the school room. We have a lot of books and I’m always amazed at all that I can pull from our own library. The boys both have a basket in their rooms where the “books of the week” are placed after we use them in the schoolroom. We usually chose from that basket each night for their bedtime reading reinforcing what they’ve learned in a fun, relaxing way. It’s also a great way for Daddy for spark up conversation with them about what we’re doing.
After I’ve compiled my books, I go to the game closet and see what games will fit in our lessons. A lot of times I use these for brain breaks and for the boys to play while I make lunch, switch laundry, clean a toilet…you get the idea. The house still has to be maintained.
Next, I head to the resource closet and pull from all the magazines, puzzles and other random things I’ve picked up in various places and can’t seem to get rid of. That card is front is one the Papa sent Samuel about butterflies before he died. What a treasure to have his writing and knowledge to add to our lesson this week! It gives us a great opportunity to remember Papa and all the wonderful memories we have of him.
Last, it’s off to the craft bins to see what might work for our masterpieces. I promise I’m not a pack rat…or maybe I am. No, really I’m just really organized because it’s nice to almost always what we need on hand.
Once I’ve gathered all my own resources, I get on Pinterest and let the madness begin! I start by setting up a board for the week and then get pinning. I always plan WAY more than we have time to finish, but whatever is left I move to another board for review time in the future. When we finish I move each project to my “completed projects” board so you can easily find the original post if you want to use any of my plans. The space on my desk is filling up quickly and this is before I pick up the library books and items needed for crafts. Of course this does not include all the fun themed food items!
The next step is to get on the library site and request the books I didn’t have in my own library. It’s not the easiest way to do things on a time schedule, but if there’s something I really must have and I can’t find on You Tube, I’ll splurge on Amazon. (I pin all the YouTube videos to my Pinterest board also.)
After I have all that together, I start looking at fun snacks and drinks we can make to incorporate the theme, Math and Science. I add in some fun brain breaks that fit the theme, but the boys are involved in so much right now PE usually takes care of itself! While I’m making lunch we play simple games like, Red Light – Green Light, Mother May I and the favorite, Freeze Dance. I also have a few dinner games ready for the nights we’re actually all together AND not in a rush.
Once I have EVERYTHING in one place I start planning each day. This week I started to plan my days in blocks of time. I haven’t been doing this and we need a bit more structure to keep Samuel on track. He has gotten in the habit of taking his time to day dream when I’m not hovering over him to get his work done. Now a timer is set for his regular work and whatever he doesn’t finish is his homework to be done after dinner. It’s really quite amazing how efficiently he can work when the timer is set. Before I came up with this idea, I was taking away the fun additional activities I worked do hard planning. That didn’t seem fair to Isaiah or ME, so we’re trying something new.
I know you’re wondering how long this all takes me and I can’t even really answer that question. I TRY to get it all done in a few hours, but I honestly spend a lot more time than that planning right now. If I can get the bulk of it done on the weekend I can usually pull the rest together each night.
Finally, I start arranging all my activities on my (homemade) calendar (because I couldn’t find one that worked for what I needed.) As I do this I start moving all the supplies from my desk, into my days of the week boxes to easily grab each day. When I started doing this my life was so much easier!
When I come in tired on Monday morning, I’m much happier that I spent the time doing this, and the preparation each night is so much nicer! It does take a a lot of time right now, and there are days I feel discouraged because things just aren’t flowing after all my hard work. But this is what is working for now, and I have the freedom to change and adjust as needed. I know there are families that do all their school at the kitchen table and it works for them. It didn’t work for us at all! We do a lot of arts & crafts there, and most Science experiments happen in the kitchen, but we feel very fortunate to have an extra room to use for school. It helps the boys have ownership having their own work space, and I love being able to close the door and get away! Life is good at Worley Academy!