This is the first year I decided to really and truly make a learning plan for the coming year. Other years I have loosely followed a Waldorf curriculum, almost like a list of things we could do, and left a lot of room for flexibility around the kids’ interests (for more about that read this article I wrote for a friend’s blog). It was a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, because let’s face it, it’s been 8 years of babies, diapers, and not nearly enough sleep.
This year, my seventh year of homeschooling, there are no babies, no diapers, I get enough sleep and suddenly I feel like I could do anything, including my own homeschool planning. One of the things that inspired me most about my time at Taproot Farm last summer was hearing some of the presenters talk about planning. So when I was faced with all this time this summer, I thought I would give this planning thing a try. I thought I would share some of what I found helpful in my planning process.
I purchased Jean Miller’s planning guide while I was at Taproot. Jean talks about her own planning process, provides some advice about rhythm, and also has a wonderful list of Waldorf resources. She also lays out the topics for each year and some of her favorite resources for each topic. What this resource did for me is give me a framework for doing my own planning. It can be as simple as a table with three columns and three rows (9 blocks for 9 months), thinking about the possibilities, thinking about my kids and then finding resources (library books, museums, materials, etc.) that are available to me.
The more challenging part is taking four plans for four kids and thinking about how to bring them together so I don’t lose my mind. Listening to Jean Miller and Alison Manzer speak at Taproot gave me some great ideas about this. Talking with these more experienced homeschooling mamas really took some pressure off (thank you, ladies!). Here are just a few of the goodies I got from hearing them speak:
- I was fairly blown away by Alison’s description of bringing different ages together on similar topics (or example: farming and botany). I had to laugh at myself for being blocked on that one. But yes, of course, it would be easy enough to find books, outings and projects that would be good for two similar topics and then have two kids (or more) going in the same direction.
- Go deep, not wide. Instead of doing so much, do a few things well.
- Process not product. There isn’t always something to show for every learning process and there doesn’t have to be something in the main lesson book for every block for every kid.
Hrm….Taproot, Taproot, Taproot. Yes, my time at Taproot last summer and the people I connected with there have continued to inspire me all year long.
I do know not to get too attached to plans, but setting our own intention for this coming year also feels really good. I intend to remain flexible and hold space for my kids to follow other interests that come up throughout the year. There are always learning detours and these are often unforgettable experiences for all of us.