Can you smell it in the air? No, I'm not talking about the pollen (we won't speak of pollen, still fighting a lingering sinus infection from spring allergies). I'm talking about the scent of frenzied homeschoolers everywhere getting a jump planning for next year. Personally, I like to do some big picture planning in the spring. I take time to evaluate your current year, define some goals for next year, and come up with a basic outline for the year to come. That way I can order materials now, leaving plenty of time to look them over and do my detailed planning over the summer.
If you're looking for a good overview on how to plan a homeschool year, check out The Magic Onions' post on Planning for the Year. Even if you don't use any Waldorf elements, this still describes a good approach to planning. Even before we started incorporating more Waldorf ideas, I liked to plan in monthly blocks. Last year I took Donna Young's Ruled calendar and filled in the major themes, holidays, seasons, or subjects I wanted to address each month. This year, I took an idea from Melissa Nielson (I think she explained in a video that she got the idea from Barbara Dewey) and divided a sheet of paper into twelve squares. Each square gets a month, and I start by listing major holidays, birthdays (just immediate family), and seasons. No forgetting those anymore. Then I fill in any major themes, subjects, or topics to be studied each month. That way, when I go to schedule individual subjects, I'll have a clear picture of which months are busier than others, so I don't schedule an elaborate unit or try to teach a complex new skill in a super busy month.
(You can find a printable yearly planning form in this post.)
This is the easy part. I'm a big picture person. A forest kind of gal. This is fun for me. Even if you're not big on planning, just doing this will make a big difference in giving your year some structure. In fact, I planned this year (our first year) with just a yearly outline like this one. I didn't go into any more detail until I got down to planning one month or one week at a time during the year. And we did just fine. It gives you structure AND flexibility. Gotta love that forest.
Ok, so the second part of my yearly planning is a little new for me. After reading about the File Crate System explained on Rockin' Granola, I thought this would work really well for me. I was having trouble making my big binder work the way I wanted it to. And I had a file drawer with folders for different subjects, but I still ended up not knowing what to do with certain papers. And then there were the endless projects and worksheets I'd find filed months AFTER the time I wanted to do them. away So, we're giving the file crate a shot.
Basically, the idea is to start with twelve hanging folders, one for each month. Then you can add whatever folders you want for whatever else you use regularly. I added a couple for preschool worksheets and file folder games for the little one, and I moved some out our subject folders up there so I can have easy access to them. The folders or binders we use regularly just stand upright in the front.
The best part of this system? When I find a cute poem that would be great for the fall, I can file it immediately in the October folder. Those Mardi Gras color sheets we didn't get to this year? I put them right back in the March folder . . . no wait, they went in February, since Mardi Gras will be earlier next year. That email I printed with the ideas for a spring seasonal table? In the March folder. Now, when I do my monthly planning, those papers and ideas will all be there ready to go. I won't have to look through math and language arts AND French folders to find potential work for each month. So perfect.
Next week, I'll share my monthly planning sheet and show you what it looks like in these early stages.