Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Autumn Planning

Well, we are getting nearer and nearer to the end of our home ed journey. With only 3 more academic years left, I feel like the pressure is on to get Boykin through exams and make sure he has everything he needs to move forward to the next stage of his life. I know that this is really the last year that we will have much time for fun projects and the odd lazy day when we need a break. I know that he is getting older and has hit that time of his life when practically everything is suddenly 'boring'. He is my youngest child and I have already missed so many windows of opportunity with all three of them but I would like to try to not miss any more.

To try to keep my self-inflicted pressure cooker under control, I bought a planner. Something of The Girl's natural inclination to organise has finally rubbed off on me :) I have seen how she has flourished and grown in independence. I was impressed by how well she managed her time during her exam years because she made such good use of her planner. And, of course, I was overjoyed to celebrate her successes with her. She wasted no time in worrying, procrastinating or forgetting what needed doing. After years of resisting timetables and the like, I began to think that she might have point - planners are the way forward. Home ed is a truly family experience and we can learn, not only alongside our kids, but also from our kids 😎😊

With planner in hand, I sat down with Boykin and together we discussed what he wanted to learn, and how he wanted to learn it. We are continuing to use some resources that we have been using for years now - MEP maths and Galore Park books in particular. He also insisted that his music practise was put on the plan, opportunities for exercise and space for personal projects. I also added in some of the reading material from Ambleside Online for Year 8. (American grade system is a number lower than British school years.) On The Girls' advice, we have colour coded it 😊

Now, just because we have a plan doesn't mean that we can't go off on our own little jaunts into learning off-piste, as it were. It doesn't mean that we have to follow The Plan to the letter EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. We have not failed if we choose not to follow The Plan that day. We are not ruled by The Plan. The Plan gives us an anchor, a framework to follow to keep us grounded and on course for Boykin's goals. It is a tool to help us both see what we have done and what we need to do.

How do I use my planner? Well, at the front I have constructed a master copy of The Plan - The Master Plan 😂 Every week, I fill in the respective page with a pencil, blocking out sections for home ed groups, family days out, necessary shopping trips, my work time and expected lazy days following a busy period. As we go through the week, I use the colour coding to mark off what we have completed and make any changes that come up due to unexpected events. At the end of the week, we sit down and admire our lovely colourful page and see how we have spent our time. We can also see what subjects have been neglected a little and tweak the following week accordingly. It helps Boykin to keep track of how much music practise he has done, and how much exercise he has had. It helps me to keep my working hours constrained rather than letting them spill out and interrupt everything else.

It's still early days yet. I wonder if we will still be using it at the end of the academic year? I wonder what we will learn from the experience? I am hoping that I will learn to compartmentalise my day properly so that work stays in its rightful place and that I learn to balance my time and energy better. Boykin is hoping that it will give him the skills needed to move into more formal study and prepare for college. To him, three years seems like a long time, but for me it will pass in the blink of an eye!

Do you use a planner to organise your home ed lives? Do you use it just for planning learning time, or does it include all aspects of your family life? Has it helped or hindered you over the years? I would really love to know other people's experiences and planner recommendations 😊

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