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Preparing for next year
For some of you, the homeschool lesson plans for 2013 are already done. You know what you're doing and it's all written down. However for most of us we are still in the stage of knowing next year is coming and mentally mulling through our options while we do our best to finish this year off well.
I must admit I do like planning for the coming year. It's a time of assessing what did and didn't work in the previous year and deciding what is changing and what is staying the same.
Over the years I've learnt a few dos and don'ts for homeschool planning and I'd like to share some of them with you.
Don't try to do too much in your academic year. With so many good options it is tempting to try and squeeze too much into your curriculum. That usually leads to burnout. Be realistic with what you can actually achieve. Look at what you were able to accomplish in 2012. Ask yourself, "How will next year be different/the same?"
Don't attempt curriculum before your children are ready. I've made this mistake many times when my kids were little. I bought a history and science curriculum that was really highschool level for my kids to use in primary. Consequently the content was mostly inappropriate for my children and I wasted my money.
Don't buy too much. My weakness is books. I have many that I bought to read to my children that are still sitting on the bookshelf. Over the past two years I've been going to my bookshelf FIRST for my read-alouds instead of the bookshops.
Don't be tempted to throw out something that works just because something else is newer or prettier. No curriculum is a perfect fit and you will always find that certain aspects don't work. However, chopping and changing all the time can slow down progress in a subject. With one child I wasted a year changing math programs three times whilst looking for a good fit. In the end I went back to my original resource realising that the reason she was struggling was more about her and not the curriculum.
Don't ignore the failures that happened this year. If you are finding aspects of your homeschool aren't working such as: routine, time allocation, a particular curriculum, or your homeschool set up -examine them closely and see what improvements you can make. Remember the famous quote, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Get wisdom. Get inspired. I enjoy using the planning time as a time of reflection. I ask God for wisdom in choosing curriculum. I pray for direction and seek out wise council from other seasoned homeschoolers I admire. I usually read through a teaching book looking for new ideas to incorporate into my teaching schedule. This energises me for the coming year.
Tie off the year's end. Get your records sorted for the end of 2012 so you can begin afresh for 2013. We have been using portfolios for years. They work well for us. After I've put their portfolios together I then have a big chuck-out and sell off my used/completed curriculum.
Make it interesting for yourself. One way I keep myself enthusiastic is to choose curriculum that interests me as well as the kids. If a subject you are teaching makes you groan with dread-how are you expecting your children to respond? Remember to keep your curriculum rich. Put art, sport, music and excursions into your plans for 2013.
Give yourself a decent rest before the next year's homeschool lessons start. Enjoy your time off. Try not to start 2013s school year feeling like you need another holiday.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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