Lesson Planner as a GPS

JMJ 1  *What heartprints will be left on the hearts of your family members this year?  What will they remember?  Academic memories constitute a partial imprint; the rest is all heart.  Academics are just a slice of the school year pizza pie.

Ring the School Bell 1/180 days

I try to keep this in mind as I plan the daily routine, as I am,  unfortunately, an admitted chronic overzealous planner myself.  My daily prayer is that I keep this trait of mine in perspective in my daily struggle to achieve our goals as a classroom in the heart of the home.  Thankfully, ultimately as you will discover, our year’s heartprint included industry, joy, tears and goodbyes; that was our own indelible, unique heartprint for the year.

Each set of heartprints form a journey exclusive to the particular year at hand, and although largely in part determined by you as a parent, the journey  cannot be completely foretold as life unfolds with its many side trips, detours, u-turns, right and left turns off the interstate to maturity for our children and for us, who continue to learn alongside our children as we forge through the school year.

School Year Pizza Pie- Circa September 2013

          I chose the day after Labor Day, to begin school, that is.  Hundreds of decisions at minimum compose the fall and spring semesters.  First up, what calendar date to commence the school parade?  Schools nationwide begin in August these days, some at the beginning of the month. My thought on this:  Is it really necessary to interrupt summer so soon with the commencement of school?

I feel sad to see the pools and beaches devoid of youngsters so soon.  Especially here, banked snow days are not necessary in Los Angeles, and more lazy summer afternoons beckon children to play, swim, and frolic in the sunny outdoors.  But choose what is right for you.  And make sure your energy reserves are at full capacity, cause here we go!!

Blog- Sea gull comic011
Comic by Sarah T- 2013

The Lesson Planner

A word about the lesson planner.  I love the lesson planner.  I can’t say enough about it.  It is necessary, time consuming, but essential to a successful school year.  A viable alternative to the planner is an already-packaged curriculum which is not discussed at length here, or on-line charter schools.  Just like us, children are served well with a GPS;  they thrive on goals and direction. For this reason, a lesson planner is a very big key to success in my small schoolhouse, and to the joy of learning, as well as good behavior in the homeschool setting.

My variation of lesson planning includes a planner for each of my 3 children.  When they were younger the planner was simple.  Kindergartners do well with a daily post-it with simple graphics of what needs to be done.  Grown-ups are not the only ones that like to check off items as they are accomplished.  Everyone likes to shout, “Hurray!” as they check off another completed task.  And the following I speak from experience…do Not include a rigid schedule of what time every subject needs to be done, unless you want to set yourself up for failure.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a traditional classroom setting.  The bell does not ring after each subject period here!  Instead, prioritize subjects in some kind of order, for instance math may require more focus and in my house it is usually the first order of the day.  At the end of the day, some things may need to be carried over, thus the necessity of a pencil and eraser while planning.  Why all this?  The laundry list of life has a way of intruding on the best and most beautiful of plans, as likely a number of you have reluctantly noticed!  You have to take into consideration cleaning up spills and animal messes, changing diapers,  impromptu field trips, doctor appointments, chasing runaway bunnies, you get the idea!

And relax!  Envision homeschooling as a spiral-like galaxy of learning.  If there was no time to cover the Vikings in Social Studies this year, believe me they will pop up numerous times before your child graduates, and perhaps later in life.  Be patient and look at the long-term.  You are developing an independent lifelong learner!

          What happened today, on the first day of school?  It was a hot hot day, over 100 degrees outside, so we stayed indoors for our studies.  I only had a few things listed on the girls’ planners as I like to ease everyone into the school year, including me.  That way I can also exceed my expectations!

Gradually embrace each subject and it won’t get so overwhelming.  The textbooks are stacked neatly in the bookshelf, and the pencils are sharpened. Everything is so tidy!  My classroom, aka the den, is ready for business.  I was rather proud of my organization and of my expectation of a perfect first school day, when I heard, “Mom, where are the headphones for the French lessons?” I looked and looked while I was counting the wasted instructional minutes in my head.  Where were they?  After some time and a group effort, we finally  located them in an unlabeled box. Take note, always label your boxes!  I conveniently placed them on a newly-mounted hook which I affixed on the computer desk so we wouldn’t have to repeat this scenario again.

The rest of the day proceeded like clockwork.  The heartprints we have left for today? We have begun our school year skipping in a happy way!

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette



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