We have been enjoying the second leg of our holidays in nearby Batam, Indonesia. I have contemplated bringing the laptop, but I told myself that this will be the last break before a long while and I would have enough work to come back to.
Travel brings experiences that can never be taught in a classroom. You experience different landscapes and climates. Eat different food and listen to different languages. Walk through different architectures and interiors.
The kids got to experience living in a house in Australia, for example, something that will not likely happen for our family in land- scarce Singapore. While others may take the backyard for nothing special, it was a treat for us who live in a flat.
I felt that the children miss this part of childhood where they have the freedom to play outdoors in the safety of home and nature waiting for them to explore nearby.
In Batam, while it does not have much in terms of scenery that we had the chance to experience, the children got to see how our brothers and sisters in Indonesia lived.
They learned to count in currency with many zeros and pick up some Bahasa. It was especially interesting to have met a Bahasa-speaking American who has set up a cafe after living there for eight years. If an American can pick up Bahasa, they should be able to handle Malay, no?
For myself, I hope to embark on some projects I got inspired to do during the holidays insyaAllah. Beauty, novelty and good food brings new ideas. I just need to lock myself up in a room for a few months now to finish the ideas in my list into something of value.
So now you have your school terms and books planned out, it's time to schedule your lessons for the year. In my planner, I simply list them down and divide them according to my schedule later; hence the reason why we plan out the school terms first and list down the books.
Scheduling the lessons is relative to the speed with which you carry out the lesson, so you know best. If you are only using textbooks, the lessons will be simply whatever topics that are listed in the contents page. You can feel the satisfaction later of ticking the list off each time you have covered a topic.
I use a scope and sequence as my core curriculum, especially for my younger girls, from montessoricompass.com and plan my lessons around them as they closely follow through the Montessori curriculum. This will be mainly what is listed down in my Lesson Schedule.
Apart from that, for certain subjects where I am confident that following the Montessori Research and Development manuals are enough, I simply list down the topics I want to cover based on them instead of referring to Montessori Compass.
My tween uses a mix of curriculums with some Montessori to close the gaps. So it is a mix of that same scope and sequence and topics from whatever books she is using this year. As she will not be sitting for a major exams in at least four years, we are not following any particular Exam syllabus.
It would be nice to correlate the lessons with the storybooks, workbooks and activities all at once; but I leave that to when I am actually planning for individual lessons later.
The point is to just list down the core of the curriculum you want to cover. Whatever extras can be noted down when you come to it.
1. List down the lessons you want to do next year in the Lesson Schedule. I find it easier to divide it by the number of school weeks. Try not to be overambitious in your lessons or you will be spending the holidays just planning for homeschool. For example if you are going to HS for 40 weeks, plan for 25 lessons, assuming a topic a week. Your child would want time to practice, explore or extend on certain topics.
2. Prepare your child's time table. This way you will know how much time you will spend on a subject a week, helping you to gauge how much you can cover.
3. Have a ready record of other books and materials. While you may not cross reference other materials or books that you may use now, having them already recorded earlier would make it easy for you to know which books you have when you need them as you plan for each school week. Try to have printable books already printed and bound so you won't spend the term rushing to print them.
4. Layer and enrich your plans. As HSrs we love to be organic and follow the interests of the child. Try not to be too rigid in your schedule and layer your plans with activities or materials that you and your child come up with along the way.
I hope you had fun planning your holidays for 2018 during this holiday season, I mean planning your school term for next year : ) Today is where the real work starts. Before you begin, make sure you are somewhere quiet and not accessible to your children, or do this when they are asleep. Have your current homeschool plan, your records, your children's works and your core resources on hand. You can download a copy of my planner on my homeschool helper page.
This next stage is both a review and a plan as you look back on what you have done for the past year and note what was achieved, what needs to be improved on and what new items should be introduced in your school next year.
1. Record or renew your Goals
If you are starting from scratch this is where you can record your Mission and Vision that you have always had in your head and set the goals that you have for the school next year. My mission and vision usually stays the same but the goals for each child and myself changes somewhat according to what we expect for the coming year.
2. Sett goals with your children
This may be a good time to ask your (older) child to fill a questionnaire to note down his achievements, things he feels he needs to work on and his hopes for next year. While you may have observed his interests and not so successful areas, it is always helpful to have the perspective of the child himself. A collaboration will also be more effective in working towards achieving the goals.
3. Review your intentions and goals
You should carry out this survey yourself too as a form of self-reflection and to help you in setting your goals for next year. Look through your lesson records, check against your to-teach lessons lists and think back about how you taught your children this year. It can be painful but it's a good exercise.
4. Take stock of books and websites
That done, I like to take stock of the books and update on websites that we will use. I only record books that are central to the curriculum for example textbooks, workbooks, reference or guidebooks used. As an eclectic homeschooler I use a lot of books that we borrow on and off from the library or that we buy in the spur of interest on the topic. While it is nice to take note of this too, it can be cumbersome and I only record these in my lesson plans. Take this as the record of your core curriculum materials.
5. Take stock of other resources
Book list done, make a list of other resources you have. For example, I use quite a bit of manipulatives. As I have a range of children (3-12), most of the materials I have will still be relevant and I will put it in as a reference point for later in the planning stage. You can also, for example, record the 3-part cards, posters and games you have.
6. Make a budget
This will also be a good time to make a purchasing list for the coming school year which can range from books, manipulatives, stationery and craft materials. Yes, the budget! I focus more on the major purchases with items like stationery given a lump sum based on past purchases. You may also want to add classes that you plan to send your child to or trips you will take for homeschooling. Include the dates when you need the items so you have them on hand when you need them. If you are a brave soul, you can show this to the breadwinner of the family....
7. Take a break before the next haul
I usually take at least 2-3 days to sieve through this part of the planning as I go through my daily routines. Something to look forward to doing during the weekends? InsyaAllah, we will then look at the core curriculum in detail next.