We’ve been enjoying summer here. June was quite full, but in all the best ways. But as the month started to wind down and I began to think of July and how July would mean we’re in the middle of summer. The middle of summer means that August would be here before I know it and August means…back to school.
Suddenly, summer had lost its allure and rest and I dove head first (sunk really) into the worry and the overwhelm of all that is before me. My mental calendar piled high with everything I left unfinished last year and all I have to prepare for the coming school year. I was a wreck. In my mind, summer was over and I was headed straight for a marathon of prep work.
It’s amazing how fast something can steal our joy, isn’t it?
Then one night this weekend, I had a moment of clarity. I only had to do one thing to start.
Just one thing. So I started with first things first.
First, when are we going to start our school year?
I pulled out my 2017-2018 School Year at a Glance (free download below), my personal planner, and our local school district’s calendar and started brainstorming dates. Should we start in early August, mid-August, or late August…September? I also consider our state’s homeschooling requirements (180 instructional days) and average how many days per month that breaks down to.
Then I take out my highlighters and mark a color each for school, holidays, vacation, CO-OP (for us, it’s our Wild + Free group), field trips, and planning days in my planning key.
Second, how do I want to divide up our school year? (aka…when’s break?)
Should we school year round? Plow through from August to November–break for Thanksgiving and then wade back in briefly before the holidays? Maybe 6 weeks on, 1 week off? After Christmas last year, I realized that I needed more of a break than a 3-day weekend here and there or waiting until Christmas break for two weeks. I’d get behind on regular household chores, find projects piling up in the corners, and just long for some alone time that was more than 30 minutes. And it seemed the kids might benefit from some lazy days and a break from routine.
We switched to a 5 week on and 1 week off schedule built around holidays so we end up having 3 weeks off for Christmas, a week for Thanksgiving, in February (around President’s Day), and Spring Break. It does mean we end up finishing school in the beginning of June, but it feels worth it knowing we’re taking our time to not only learn, but rest and rejuvenate.
After the calendar basics were on paper, I began brainstorming what we would study.
We follow the Montessori Scope and Sequence from my NAMC albums, which takes a lot of guesswork out of planning. Language, math, and penmanship are all taught one-on-one wherever the child is on the sequence. Language, math, and penmanship are all taught one-on-one wherever the child is on the sequence, so those I’ll plan a little later when I have time to look more specifically at each child’s needs. But History, Geography, and Science we do all together. I know what topics we haven’t covered in the lower elementary material, so I spaced those out over our six terms.
(I’ll explain how I plan our terms in more detail in a later post.)
It’s a simple first step. But it’s so helpful to knock down that first block and see that things aren’t as overwhelming as they seem. Yes, there will be work. I still have half a set of grammar cards to cut, zoology materials to find, and the Great Lessons to review…not to
But know that I know when we’re starting, where our breaks will be, and what our overall plan is…the rest is not as anxiety producing as it once was.
What homeschool prep is causing you anxiety this summer?
How can you knock down your first obstacle?