Friday, June 26, 2015

Shaking Up our Homeschool

Today I closed my 2014/2015 homeschool planner for the last time. Every single page has been filled up with lesson plans, activities and notes on what we have covered over the past year. 

Goodbye Old Planner
We have not quite finished with our learning yet, in fact we still have about three weeks to go. But this planner only runs until June. Next week I open my new planner for the next school year. There is something in finishing with one planner and starting a new that causes me to reflect and then look forward. 

In reflecting over this past academic year I realise that although we have forged ahead on the academics and book work, a certain joy seems to have left our learning. It breaks my heart because we have never been 'all about the books'. Yet this year we have slipped into that rather monotonous routine and it is something that I have to change. 
Hello New Planner
After much reflection, prayer, discussions with DH and quizzing my girls on how they are enjoying their learning, I know that we need to continue with our curriculum as it does give the girls that school leavers certificate. But - I'm shaking things up from September. I have one year left with DD1 before she graduates homeschool and only 3 left with DD2 so I want to make every precious minute count.

So, the 'Shaking-it-up' plans are:

1) Reinstate our Nature Studies

This precious memory-making part of our homeschooling has fallen by the wayside. It is so SO easy to let these less academic (but in my opinion equally important) subjects slip. We have been sporadic at best in this area. Nature observation still happens but not with the purpose that we once had. Just taking a weekly walk together, chatting along the way, was great for relationships and good for the soul and body to be outdoors in all weather.

I have created a few forms to customise my new homeschool planner, one of those is a detailed nature planning sheet, one for each month of the year. I think that we may follow the Ambleside Online nature schedule for the 2015/2016 school year.

2) Fun Friday

Friday's have traditionally been reserved for nature study, art etc in our home. We have maintained the art every 2nd week as up to now we have gone across to Manchester for art lessons with a tutor with some dear friends of ours. The alternate Friday's have unfortunately been all about the books. With our move down to Devon happening over the summer our art lessons have now come to an end, so I have decided to re-dedicate each and every Friday as a 'Fun Friday'

Friday's will still start with our Bible devotion time followed by English and Maths. We will then do our nature walk and study followed by spending a bit of time working in our nature journals. After we have finished that we will work on an activity together that will fall into the Life Skills and Enrichment area. As you can see from the picture above I have stuck in a yearly planning overview sheet of seasonal activities etc that I want to cover. This is still very much in the planning stage and I have only jotted down a few ideas for October so far.

So we might cover home economics practicals on this day, work on a science project together, go on a field trip such as visiting an art gallery, museum or NT property. There are so many options. I plan on visiting a Pick-Your-Own farm in October so that we can pick out a pumpkin or two. We can then spend the following Friday in the kitchen making a few autumnal pumpkin inspired dishes. That's the kind of thing I had in mind.

3) Learning Together

By using the A.C.E curriculum in our home, it does mean that there is no together learning at all. The girls work at their independent levels at their own pace. I have very little input unless they get stuck and need help. I do mark all the work so that I know what is going on but  really - I have been missing our learning together. This was one of the things that I knew had to change without us having to ditch the whole curriculum.

I've had a good look at how we can include more together learning within this rather structured framework and have surprisingly found quite a few ways to tweak the curriculum to suit our home learning.

Both girls have chosen to do Home Economics as an elective, so I thought that this would be a great subject to do together rather than individually. We will  have a time each day that is set aside for this subject. We will follow the course and do our discussions, projects and practicals together.

The other requirement that the girls need to meet is to complete a science project and submit a report on the process and their findings to the examination board. The project that has peaked their interest is one on birds, so we will do this together. They will be completely responsible for deciding how they are going to set up the experiment, who will be responsible for what, how they will track the data etc and then they will each have to put together a report to submit. I will be there to oversee and offer guidance if they get stuck. I'm personally quite excited about this project and have pencilled it in over the winter when birds are hungry and reliant on our feeders.

I will scan through what each child is covering in Science, Social studies and Literature during the year and plan in field trips that support their academics.

Seasonal Learning - I naturally weave this into our home but this year I want to be more purposeful in this and include the girls in planning some fun seasonal things to do. I will also bring in seasonal poetry and art works to appreciate throughout the year. I'm thinking that we could have a weekly afternoon cream tea where our music and art appreciation and poetry lessons can happen. It sounds so genteel - I think it could be a hit. 

Homeschooling really is a journey. Every-Single-Year I re-evaluate, change things, panic a bit, pray allot, change a few more things, talk about it, journal about it - you get the picture - until I finally have a clear idea of the way forward. This year is no different, just to get to this place of having a plan to move forward with has been emotional and at times filled with angst. But - as always - I have come through it with a 'road map' of the next year.

Now for the fun part. I get to fill in my year-at-a-glance Fun Friday sheets. I get to think and ponder on what areas I want to cover in our nature studies. Which artists and musicians will be visiting us this next year. Which galleries, museums and historical buildings are we going to visit. Finding out if there are any local Devon customs and festivals, events etc that go on. Like I said - all the fun planning :)

Well, that's about it from me today. I hope you all have a super weekend and I shall see you back here next week :) 


  1. I get that same feeling every year too just before the framework of the plan takes shape. Afterwards, though, it's so fun, as you mentioned, to fill in the details! All the hard work of deciding is done and with new direction, things can really begin to take shape!

  2. I have one year left with my first daughter as well - and have been feeling many of the same things you talk about here. I want this year to be joyful as well as the usual books, just as you say - and you have given me much inspiration. And hope. I am truly thankful for your words and ideas!

  3. It sounds as though your children will be getting a wonderful and very rounded education! xx

  4. All sounds good to me x

  5. Shirley you are doing wonderful work and I am so happy that you know the way forward xxx

  6. Inspirational! I shall be looking over your thoughts and plans as I prepare for home schooling my own two. :)


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