Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lesson Planning

One of my favorite summer activities is lesson planning. I know, nerd alert.  I love looking at the big picture and knowing there are limitless possibilities from which to choose. I’m a kid in a candy store of ideas.  I also love asking questions that help me focus my vision.  As much fun as I have dreaming, I need to eventually narrow my focus and get specific lessons on paper. Here are some of the questions that have helped me move from big-picture dreaming to detail planning. Perhaps they will inspire you.

What do I want my kids to learn by the time they graduate? I want them to develop a love for God, a love of learning, and a strong work ethic. 

How can I help them reach those goals in the next year? I will make sure that Bible lessons do not get lost in the shuffle or deprioritized. I will try to have more hands-on, exploratory lessons than worksheets.  I will use topics that my kids are already interested in.  I will help them develop good study habits at an age-appropriate rate. I will model good-habit formation (for example, washing the counters every day after breakfast).  

What philosophy will we use? I like to use a Charlotte Mason and Unit Study hybrid.  Unit studies are so easy to organize. This year, we will pick a different book each week as our topic.  All of the lessons will be organized around “Paddington,” “Peter Rabbit,” or whichever book we are on that week.  Philosophically, I’ve found myself relating to Charlotte Mason with her emphasis on narration quality works of literature, art, and music.  So, I will have my kids start narrating short portions of stories to me.  I will also let them view famous works of art and listen to classical music.  We will also spend more time outside. I hope that at the end of the year they will have developed a taste for quality art, music, and literature and an appreciation for nature.  If that doesn’t work for us, I’ll let you know how Plan B goes (maybe we’ll switch back to picture books and finger painting).

How will I manage teaching children at two different levels? Most of my lessons are written at the kindergarten level, but I made one day more active and designed with my preschool child in mind.  I also plan to modify many of the lessons for her.  For example, I might write in my plans that we will add and subtract carrots with my kindergartner, but I’ll also use that time to help my preschooler identify numbers and/or count the carrots.  While my kindergartner is learning about animal behaviors and habitats, I will try to remember that my preschooler still needs to practice identifying animals, animal sounds, colors, textures, etc. I’ll also have Montessori bins and creative play stations available when I need to work exclusively with one child.

What specific skill do I want my kids to learn next year? I won’t bore you with my entire syllabus, but once I’ve identified our big goals, chosen a philosophy, and listed the specific skills (addition, learning phonetic blends, etc.), individual lessons come together much more quickly.

Tell me about your process. What do you look for in a curriculum? What modifications do you make?  Do you like to write your own? What questions do you ask yourself? What is your homeschool philosophy? 

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