Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Keep It All Straight

In response to my Lasagna Learning post, Amy (of Trivium Tuesdays- take a minute and go link-up!) and Laura both asked how I keep it all straight. I thought I would share with you what I do that helps me remember what we are doing and where we are going.

I over plan in the spring and summer for the following school year. Basically I get all BIG ideas regarding school, education and the kids out of my head (think GTD), gather as many resources as I can, consider all of the classes and co-ops and extras that we can afford and decide to do it all. On days when my pessimism hasn't totally taken over I am obnoxiously optimistic about what we can get done. During this planning time I lay it all out there- every little thing- I dream BIG and thrill to the idea of all that we'll know and all that we'll be doing in the coming year.

Iit makes life, and homeschooling, so much easier to have a place for everything and everything in it's place. Each student has their OWN school bin- with all of their stuff in it, texts, CD's, etc. Things that are used collectively are stored in a common area, but woe to him or her that doesn't put it back where it goes.

When it's time to actually start doing school (we usually start "fresh" each fall when Tutoring Center begins, even on those years when we do school throughout the summer. I list everything for each child on a separate 5 x7" card and place it predominately at our desk (I do this at the beginning of each semester and add and subtract to it as needed).  Woe to the kid who loses their card (because then I'm lost). I list EVERYthing on this card- books, read-alouds, CD's, DVD's, on-line programs, down- loads, classes, co-op,etc . A good 1/2 of our school is done electronically or outsourced in one way or another- each "class" or activity is coded by how it's done- DVD, CD, Tutoring Center, etc.

We have an established routine each day- skills in the a.m./ content in the afternoon. Math is always first. We do math text, Perplexors, 1/4 Mile Math, Grammar, Latin, etc. In the afternoon we History, Science, etc. Because we are doing so much on the computer (Rosetta Stone, Spanish, Computer programming, 1/4 Mile, Adventus) x 2-3 kids, we are rotating between computers (there is a non-Internet linked one in the office) through-out the day. In addition we do some DVD's- (Physics, Latin) and have to coordinate with whomever is using the downstairs computer. If anyone gets bored or doesn't know what to do, they just look at their card- there are plenty of "small" and "easy" tasks along with the more difficult ones. For instance, Latin is more overwhelming to Cub (13) than Fallacy Detective or Diagramming. If he has time, and I can't help him, he'll grab something he can do independently.

Here's the key to it all. We are diligent about studying. We find great joy and peace in learning (most of the time) but we are also deeply pragmatic. We are re-building a house and have other responsibilities. Always (I mean always, not often or sometimes) I don't get everything done in a year. My over planning is too much and things fall by the wayside. And that is O.K. I let it go with no regrets. I know this will be the case when we start out. We cover the basics and much more and whatever else doesn't get done, will at a later point, or not at all. Ce la vive. We've graduated 2 (almost 3) kids so far and they are all well-educated, decent people who know how to learn. Furthermore, Dr. Dh and I are still learning. So, I take a lot of pressure off of myself at the "go" mark and realize I won't get it all done and my kids will be educated regardless.

And here's the other key to learning. In order to know you must over-learn. In order to truly "OWN" the material (vs. short term, learn to the test, regurgitate and forget) you must store the info in your long-term memory. The way we approach this is to focus on certain areas and then invest in those areas. We are history buffs and theology crazed so we have tons of materials and resources in those areas- magazines, CD's, DVD's, Texts, novels, etc. For areas that don't come naturally to us, I am on the look-out for resources that WORK- this often means a DVD, like Great Courses perhaps, or a Tutoring Center Class alongside a work text at home. I'm not opposed to doing more than 1 "Curriculum" at a time, if it meets the needs of our goals for the year. For instance, this year Feeche was taking Physics and Cub was taking pre-physics with separate texts. In addition they watched a GC non-math oriented "Physics and Your Life" course. The goal this year was to understand the fundamentals of Physics, not to get through a curriculum. As a result, we got through more than one curriculum.

How to keep it all straight? Over plan and then go with the flow. And no regrets.


Susan said...

I love that, "over plan then go with the flow."

I've so got the over plan part down! I need to work on the go with the flow. ;)

Amy Maze said...

I like that too =) I like the idea of writing EVERYTHING down on a card. I find that I do a good job planning at the beginning of the year, and play until about Nov/Dec, but then I don't take the time to stop and really plan the next chunk of time. Thanks for taking the time to address my question!