2011-2012 School Year: Inspirations

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Here are the books and blog posts I revisited while I was putting together my lists and plans.

List Books

The Book Tree by Elizabeth McCallum & Jane Scott
All Through the Ages by Christine Miller (I inherited the first edition in a 3-ring binder from my mom)

Big Picture

By Design” at Quiddity by James Daniels
Homeschooling the Freeborn” at Ordo Amoris by Cindy Rollins
How to Simply Homeschool” at Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp
Mission Drift, homeschool style” at Healer’s Geste by me
School Education by Charlotte Mason

Rule of Five or Six or Seven

I encountered this idea several years ago and have had it in the back of my mind ever since, but this year I am going to bring it to the front of my mind. I won’t explain it, since the following posts do it so well. If the idea is new to you, read one or two of the following first:

Melissa Wiley’s Rule of Six

Elizabeth Foss’ Rule of Six

Ann Voskamp’s Seven Daily Rungs

Willa’s Seven

For me, keeping track of six facets of life daily will help me to remember that education isn’t about how many math sheets or spelling words one does, but about becoming a well-rounded, developed person. Here are the six daily “rungs” I chose:

  1. Worship — pray, read Scripture, obey God
  2. Work — chores, school, keeping possessions in order, helping
  3. Read & Listen — learning and language development
  4. Think — narrate, discuss, contemplate, problem-solve, write
  5. Move — outdoor time all days possible
  6. Overcome — gain self-control & self-government with attitudes and work ethic

I settled on that last one because I want to remind myself that a bad attitude or a mess made or a habit forgotten is not necessarily evidence of failure, but is always an opportunity to grow. I need a perspective shift. I want to see my main role as a teacher as the one helping my students learn how to learn themselves, and it’ll be rough going — tripping and stumbling and falling is inevitable. Keeping them lifted up and on a steady path is my primary job, not pouring information into their heads.

These six categories are just as applicable to myself as to the children, and they will hopefully find them just as useful when they are adults. If these six aspects of life become habits, become ingrained parts of everyday life, they will continue to serve them — and me — well.

I did add them to my school checklist, but only so they will stay in front of my face.

Goals and Habits

I’ve written a lot over the years about habits and goals. This year I made them part of the plan. For each of the children and myself, I identified one primary character habit to work on (mine is self-discipline), one overarching goal for the school efforts (mine is to stick to my own plans), one knowledge goal (for myself and the two oldest, it is to learn the big-picture sweep of history thus far), one language goal (Ilse’s is to learn to speak calmly rather than panic), one thinking goal (Hans’ is to learn to make comparisons), and one skills goal (Knox’s is to learn to put away his own toys). This is on the overview sheet that I plan on reviewing at least weekly so that these things are forefront in my mind as we go through our days, so I can see and seize the teaching moments whenever they appear.

And in this vain, posts I have printed out to review regularly are the following:

Enlisting the Will” by Brandy at Afterthoughts
Be a Sun” at Mental Multivitamin

Calendar

The plan is to continue on our six six-week year-round terms. I like having the frequent off-week for catching up around the house, in the kitchen, with the papers, and to have the margin for returning library books, getting the new ones, and shifting around our hymns and memory work. This time, however, I did outline the year so we never take more than two weeks off at a time. After three weeks off, I learned this year, it is pulling teeth to get us back on routine. So this year I won’t even go there. I am toying with the idea of keeping a brief Circle Time daily, even on our off-day and even during break weeks, too, just because it is a good prompt to propel us into a good day. I don’t do well with lazy mornings. And I am keeping all the subjects simple and straightforward so that we can finish by lunch, schooling 4 days a week, with Mondays off. Here are some of the best scheduling-related blog posts I have read:

School Planning” by Kendra of Preschoolers and Peace
Scheduling Our Weeks & Days by Angelina in Louisiana
Little Grains of Sand” by Cindy Rollins
To Schedule or Not to Schedule” by Deputy HeadMistress
The Scheduler & the Dawdler” by Cindy Rollins
New Days” or “Rocks in a Jar” by Ann Voskamp
Spring-Like & Feverish” by Mental Multivitamin links to some of my favorite of her thoughts