Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Planning and Pedagogy

It's the time of year when people are planning summer, their vacation, and next years school. This occurs while we are trying to juggle ending a myriad of things from this year, along with all of the stuff that never ends.
It can be overwhelming.
A young homeschooler asked how to do it. Let me s'plain; decide, commit, make a plan.

Start with a pedagogy. That's a big word, but very useful. It means, "the art and science of teaching."
My pedagogy is classical. I'm really a neo-classicist, but that's a different discussion.

Maybe your pedagogy is something else. Whatever it is, understand it, what makes it unique and what makes it work. Imho  there are pedagogy's that do.not.work. I am a firm believer in education educating.

O.k., once you have your pedagogy in place, everything else follows.

First of all, understand it. Get educated.
1. Classical educators- read Bauer, Pudwa, Grant, Wilson and a host of others
2. Charlotte Mason - Schaeffer MacCauley, Clarkson, Andreola, etc
3. Unschooling- Holt, Farenga, HEM, Llewellyn, Colfaxes, etc.
4. Unit Studies/ Delight Directed- Moore, Bennett, etc.
5. The Principal Approach- Slater, Hall, etc
 and of course, there are many more.

Secondly, have a clear grasp of the framework:
As a classical educator I follow the Trivium.
My Grammarians (K -6th) memorize and get a wide sampling of a broad range of subjects, learn phonics and how to read with ease and comprehension, and have a clear understanding of basic math functions.
My Dialectic age kids (Jr. High) learn fallacies and logic, soak up more math and hone their writing skills.
My Rhetoric aged kids (Sr. High) start going more in-depth in specific areas. They are pushed to write with more clarity and maturity, speak well and with ease and begin to develop their own interests and passions. Which they seem to follow with or without  my approval rating.

Think about Goals for each child for the upcoming year:
I make up a sheet with Goals/Subject/Curriculum across the top. Curriculum is a tool, not a slave driver. Too often it becomes just that. The goals are the important thing here, focus on the goals, not the curriclum.
I also list the following 4 areas: physical, mental, spiritual, social for each kids.

Can your kid climb the fireman's pole at the park, go hand-over-hand on the horizontal ladder, swim?
Can they make eye contact and shake hands with an adult, use a napkin, cover their mouth when they sneeze?
Do they know how to pray, desire to know God, read the Bible on their own?
Are they making age and stage appropriate progress in more than one area?
I always joke that my kids are idiot savants. They are all pretty sharp in some areas and kinda brain dead in others. I want to fan the flames of fire under their talents but I also want to shore up areas of inadequacy.

Research Curriculum and Opportunities:
Do they fit with your stated pedagogy?
Do they fit with your stated goals?
Do they address a need ?
Keep in mind that just because something is available and good, it doesn't mean you have to or need to participate. It might not be bad, but it might just be noise.
Assess cost of extra-curriculars: will it create unnecessary driving or wait time for any littles or Mom, cost more than you can reasonably afford, steal from other areas? Will they subtract or add to?

Choose Curriculum following your Goal Sheet.
What subject areas can you teach  more than one child in? We do memory work and history together.
There are a zillion options out there. Most of it is really good. Find something and stick with it (for a couple of years at least)

I usually pick history first (it's the backbone of a classical curriculum). I love it, the kids love it and we always want to learn more. We have loved The Story of the World I - IV and have used it for many years, Diana Waring's stuff, Memoria Press and The Famous Men series. All are excellent. We've filled in with readers from Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, G.H. Henty and many many more.

Then writing, because I love writing. We've used IEW for years. LOVE it! This year, because of co-op and our fire, we used Writing Tales. It was excellent as well and very easy to use. I still like IEW's approach to writing better, but I really like the grammar study included in WT.
Then Math. I love eled math. I really like Singapore and Right Start. More than anything else we've ever used, they teach the kids how to think mathematically. We also use Minute Math and flash cards.
Science, etc.

Curriculum is important but it should not be the driver in your homeschool. No matter how much good curriculum you have, if you don't use it or teach it doesn't really matter. Honestly, you could homeschool with a few books and writing utensils. Everything else is a bonus. Develop your pedagogy and everything else will fall into place.

"Without a vision, the people will perish."
Proverbs 29:18

Questions, comments? Do you agree, disagree? How do you plan your homeschool year?

Link up at The Hip Homeschool Mom for more great discussion about homeschooling


Mary said...

I love this post. Thank you.

Right now my pedagogy is "eclectic classical." My planning methods change too frequently and I am currently re-vamping it to find a more flexible way to plan.

LaughingLioness said...

Mine were classical electic until about 6 years ago. Then I really got ahold of stages of classical and it just made things so much simpler (and less expensive)!

Julie said...

I just hoppped over here from the WRM forum. Great post! It is really what I needed to read as I think I have gone off track with what my original goals were.
Off to dust off my copy of WTM and form my pedagogy!

Michele said...

I think this is an excellent post. I need to look more closely at my own planning process. I think my first step will be to weed out some books from the shelves. I am an overwhelmed - curricula junkie!

ali said...

This is a good reminder that I need to be more deliberate in my planning as the kids get older. Nice post!


Kash said...

You have two points that I think you should put in bold italicized 72 point font on every homeschooling forum around. ;) The curriculum is a tool, and the part about extracurricular activities.

I remember in high school, especially, we always got our first grammar review assignments AFTER our first papers or essays were graded. It took me years to make that connection. Our teachers didn't worry about 'finishing the curriculum,' but they did make sure we met their goals for their class. I think this is something homeschoolers *really* have to guard against, especially in areas where we feel less confident. It seems easier somehow to just throw more curriculum at a problem!

Similarly, I think as homeschoolers we do allow ourselves to worry about 'opportunities for social interaction,' even if we aren't worried about 'socialization' as such. Then suddenly there can easily be more extracurricular activities than there are curricular, at-home activities. I know many jokes are made about 'carschooling' and how homeschoolers are 'never home,' but the truth is: we can't educate at home unless we are at home, sometimes.

Great post!

LaughingLioness said...

I totally understand the lure of curriculum! The house fire weeded a lot out for us ; }

Contessa Kris said...

This was a very enlightening post for me. I have homework to do, I see. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Robin McCormack said...

Ack! My pedagogy seems be all agog at the moment. Your post is just what I needed at the moment. Get my but in gear and set some goals. Dust off some of the books, read and refresh myself on all of it and rethink our methods. Today I was at the point of 'why am I doing this?' An oh so wonderful person, who will remain nameless, told me yesterday after I mentioned James did poorly on a test: It all rests on you. If your kid fails, its because you failed to teach him. Talk about a kick in the gut. We have some adjusting to do. Thank you so much for this post.

Ritsumei said...

Thank you! I may just have to come back and re-read this post periodically.

Would you be interested in submitting this to the Classical Homeschooling Carnival?

Deanna said...

Fantastic post. I am bookmarking it with my ed. philosophy stuff.

Moonbeam said...

It's good to know that someone else finds looking forward to next year during the chaos of taxes, daily life and this school year to be a little crazy. Thanks for the reminders and the tips on keeping it all together. You do it with such grace.

Tahara said...

I really enjoyed this post!...This is my first time reading your blog and I will be back :-)

MissMOE said...

I really enjoyed this post. So many times I think homeschoolers (including myself) tend to jump at the next best thing without thinking about method and our priorities. Thanks for the reminder.

musicalmary said...

Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful post. I, too, use SOTW - we are in our first year with it and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you for the guidance.

nikki said...

I'm new to your blog (trailed from WTM through THV) and just treasure your reminders. With my third joining in our lessns more lately, I've become overwhelmed. Your notes have made me take a step back and look. Thanks so much. -Nikki