I spent much of May or so considering the books we've used in the past, deciding what worked and what did not. I ordered the some new stuff for the areas where I thought I needed work and stuck with books that the kids have done well with. In June, I ignored the book stacks sitting around, but in July, I started working on my plans for this new school year.
First I downloaded some of the lovely lesson planning pages from Donna Young. Then I wrote a list of the subjects to cover and books I wanted to use for them (which I mostly already had developed when back in May). Originally, I had grand plans of writing a whole year's worth of plans before school started. Ha! Well, a semester? I settled on four weeks. I'd love to have more than that, but truly after a month, things will go wrong. Someone will get sick and I'd have to revise it all any way (which is also why I've typed it all in Word instead of handwriting everything out).
My basic every day plans are not complicated:
Monday, all three school kids will be working on English (spelling, grammar, reading and writing -- at the appropriate levels). They will also begin a math lesson for the week and we'll do some history.That's the basic, weekly schedule, which is not much different from what we've done in past years. However, one thing I tried last year that went well and then died out from lack of planning on my part was to start the days with "circle time." It's a great way to make the school day a bit more formal and remind the kids that this is not the part of the day where we can run off to play Legos or dress-up and remind myself that this is not the part of the day where I can go play on the computer.
Tuesday brings math games, flash cards, geography and spelling reviews as well as science.
Wednesday, I plan to make a light day with Latin, art and formal religion work, as well as a trip to the library or the park with other homeschoolers in our neighborhood.
Thursday will be the day to do more English, a spelling bee (which if the kids can spell all their words correctly lets them out of a spelling test on Friday), continuing their math lessons and more history.
Friday will also be rather light, completing math (assuming they are clearly grasping the concepts and don't need to work on the lesson for more than a week), finishing up English work and more science.
In addition, to that plan, the two oldest have a book or story to read each week and do some additional things with.
I used these lovely plans as a springboard for my own, figuring out what I wanted to cover and accomplish in the 30 minutes or so that we will spend together to begin the day. While I was tempted to just borrow those plans outright, I can't
leave well enough alone don't have all the books she uses and anyway had a few things I wanted to do to make things suit our family and my own style better.
Our circle time will follow the pattern of a morning offering and daily intentions, followed by a hymn, followed by the kids filling out a blank calendar and marking the weather, reading the story of the saint of the day, a poem (which stay the same all week), sometimes a simple craft or finger activity, a story or an art appreciation lesson.
I loved the idea of making each week seasonally appropriate, but I also knew I would tear my hair out figuring those details out especially if I had to make sure I always had all the books I wanted checked out on time. Instead, I wanted a simpler plan that relied only on books I own. A rotation system will work better for this time of the year, though I think we will switch to something more seasonal for Advent, Lent and Easter. I'll be rotating through 5 different books each week. On Mondays, we'll read from My Book House, volume 5 (if you run across these out-of-print treasures in a used bookstore, buy them!), Tuesday's stories come from The Children's Book of America, Wednesday Children in Art, Thursday The Illustrated Treasury of Children's Literature, and on Friday we'll read from The Burgess Animal Book. Some of these books contain a lot more stories than others, so as we finish one up, I'll put something else into the rotation.