Monday, August 11, 2008

Schoolhouse Planner Update ...

I spent time this weekend filling out my yearly goals for the older five children, the course of study for the year, and my educational objectives for them in each subject.  I've never done that before, and at first it seemed overwhelming, so I started with the easy form ... the course of study, since I already know what curriculum we're using for each subject.  But I'm so glad I did it.  I pinpointed weak areas for each child, and was able to put that down as an area to develop this year.  It helps to have it on paper, and be able to return to those goals throughout the year to assess how we're doing in our schooling.  Are we making progress, are we still struggling, or are we letting this area slide?  Then we can decide if we need to try a new approach, work harder, or just continue on as we are.

I then used the calendars to plan out when we'd begin school, take breaks, end school, and what weeks of Tapestry of Grace we'd study each week.  After filling in the calendar, I realized that with the baby break and holiday breaks, we'd be schooling right through June if we started August 25.  That didn't even account for any time off if we had another bad case of influenza or a family emergency.  So, Steve and I decided to start August 18 instead.  That gives us a little more flexibility, and hopefully we won't have to school into July again. 

I also was able to schedule Tapestry of Grace weeks so we complete Year 3 this year, without starting into Year 4.  When we began Tapestry of Grace, we started it at the end of one school year, so we have always begun each new school year on week 6 or so of the year plan.  And we end the school year, 5 or 6 weeks into the next year plan.  I attempted to correct that this past year by extending some of the weeks over 2 weeks.  But we're still going to start this school year on week 4 of year 3.  Next year, we will be buying the redesigned Tapestry of Grace, as they're publishing it, so we can't be several weeks into the year already.  We'll have to study it on their printing schedule.

I still need to create a weekly schedule for the subjects, especially the subjects where we are using more than one curriculum.  This is always an area I struggle with, and we often end up not using the more fun or creative curriculum choices ... just sticking with the easy "next page in the workbook" approach.  I want to avoid that this year.  And some of my educational objectives for the kids require that we do employ some of those other methods and curriculum options.

I haven't started filling in household organizational forms.  I'm looking forward to using some of their chore charts ... although my children are hoping I don't.  We have been too disorganized in that area for a long time.  We have opted for the "do it when Mom notices it needs it and assigns it to us" method.  But that method means that sometimes things get bad all at once and we have to spend a day doing nothing but cleaning to recover from the neglect.  A more organized approach would prevent that.  I just never have managed to figure out the best way to organize it.  I admit I mostly get hung up on what chores to assign to which children to get the best results with the least amount of grumbling.  I probably should just get over the "least amount of grumbling" bit. 

I like that The Schoolhouse Planner has several different chore charts, so you can decide what style will work best for your family.  There are picture chore charts for young children, and chore charts to fill in for each child, or charts to complete for the whole family.  There are even daily schedule forms to fill out for children, or Mom, to help them know when to study, work, and play.  We've been more relaxed with our day in the past, but I am finding that the children are taking advantage of that too often, and we need to add more structure and time slots for our work and play.  The older children, especially, need to learn to schedule their days, as they will need that skill if they choose to attend college, and when they take on jobs outside the home.

I was looking at the recipes again, and am looking forward to trying several of them.  I noticed that there are a wide variety of recipes included.  Some are very healthy and start with foods in their more natural form, and others are "can opener recipes" as I call them ... those fast recipes where you open a can of this and a can of that to mix up a meal.  I'm glad they included both types of recipes, so there are options for days when you're planning ahead, and days when you're scrambling to fix supper at the last minute! 

I know that I will be using The Schoolhouse Planner often.  Other than the dated calendars at the beginning, this planner is totally re-usable and will be helpful for years to come.  Even if a person only bought it once, they'd benefit from the great forms they can use year after year.  I don't know what The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Store have planned for future years --  if they'll republish a completely new planner, or sell calendar updates to this one -- but it is definitely a resource worth buying!  I highly recommend it! 

Trusting in Him,

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