Lessons Learned – What’s Going Well This Term

homeschool planning

We’re not using any curriculum in our homeschool at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I don’t set goals for what I want us to achieve. In fact without a textbook telling us what we need to cover each week, it’s even more important for me to be clear about where we’re going.

The joy of routine

Detailed plans don’t work well for me, but I thrive on routines. A good routine offers a perfect balance of flexibility and structure. Routines allow us to spontaneously take a sunny springtime day off to play outside with friends, and then to jump back in the next day without worrying about “catching-up”. Routines can be adjusted to accommodate extra practice time for upcoming music exams, and we can make the most of the perks of homeschooling by taking term-time vacations without having to work double-time on our return to cover “missed” material.

The whiteboard in the picture above shows my big-picture planning for this term. Some subjects, like history, science and art, aren’t listed because we were already in a comfortable groove with them.  On the whiteboard I wrote new ideas and things we’d been letting slide, but which I knew I wanted to reintroduce into our regular routine.

Read aloud time

We listen to a lot of audiobooks together and individually, but there’s something special about family read-aloud time. This term I’ve prioritised getting together every day to read from a novel or non-fiction living book.  We’re finishing The Return of the Twelves at the moment (it’s good as everyone says). Sharing a novel in this way helps get us into the swing of reading aloud, so we’ve read more of all kinds of living books together this term.

Fun maths

I’ve written a lot recently about the fun we’ve been having with our new living maths routine. Definitely a success!

Copywork

I’m a big fan of copywork for teaching kids the elements of good writing. J(8) turned eight at Easter so I thought he might be ready to join C(9) doing copywork. Despite his slight dysgraphia and dyslexia, he seems to be quite enjoying it. He chooses his own book, props it up on a cookbook stand, and writes a sentence using his handiwriter pencil grip. Most of what he’s written comes from a Benny and Penny graphic novel, but that doesn’t worry me. As long as he’s practising writing, punctuation and spelling I know he’ll get there in the end (wherever “there” is).

J(8)'s copywork
J(8)’s copywork

C(9) has also been selecting her own copywork passages. She picks a book off the shelves depending on her mood. This term she’s written quotes from Magic School Bus books, Usborne science books, Homer, poems and even the back of an acrylic paint pot. Variety is a bonus!

C(9)'s copywork
C(9)’s copywork

This term I’ve been doing copywork alongside the children – an inspiring quote, a favourite poem or a great line from a novel. I enjoy it, and it reinforces the value of what the children are doing.

Project time

I love the idea of the children spending large amounts of time driving their own projects, with me as their learning mentor. After we rearranged our space to make materials more accessible, C(9) spontaneously creates much more often. I’ve been managing to have project time with each child individually a few times a week, but ideally I’d like us to spend more time doing project work.  I’m still working on where to find that time!

Freewriting

Like copywork, freewriting is something we all do together.  We set a timer for five minutes and, sometimes using Bravewriter Friday Freewrite prompts, keep writing until the beeper sounds. J(8) doesn’t follow the “rules” exactly – he prefers to tell stories using a mixture of pictures and writing (complete with his own “phonetic” spelling) – but he’s been really enthusiastic about freewriting so I’m not going to interfere in his creative process! Sometimes, in an unusual reversal of roles, C(9) gets cross because J(8) carries on writing well past the beep.

Freewriting
Freewriting

Schedule for J(8)

My final goal for this term was to provide J(8) with a daily schedule.  Whereas C(9) and I are fairly free-wheeling types, J(8) seems to work best when he knows what’s coming up, and when he’s done for the day. So for his benefit I’ve been making a daily whiteboard list of subjects which we cross off as we go along. This seems to have been working well.

Lesson-planning inspiration

Julie at Highhill Homeschool has launched a new link-up series to help homeschoolers inspire each other in lesson-planning. For the next month, the link-up theme is successes in your classroom, then beginning 4 July there’s a schedule for sharing planning different subjects across the curriculum. I hope you’ll join me there for more inspiration.

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13 thoughts on “Lessons Learned – What’s Going Well This Term

  1. I share your view on routines. Having a general routine helps to level everyone’s expectations, and it works really well when it allows for flexibility, as you have described. It looks like you’ve achieved most, if not all, of this term’s objectives. I also find it important to have a broad idea of our goals, even if the goals exists only in my head rather than on paper.

  2. You raised many really good and helpful points. I like the idea of routine as I constantly struggle with fitting in all in but not being able to sneak in an activity that pops up, like a book/activity or science experiment I’ve read about.

    I also like that you have a schedule for the child who needs it. My daughter thrives on schedule and will finish an incredible amount of work before lunch time (if it’s on the schedule). Where as the schedule seems to really bog my son down. He works diligently but often takes longer to complete assignments. Once he’s started on them he wants them to be done well.

    My kids currently have different curriculums because they need it, but they have similar schedules. I’m glad you mentioned this as it gives me ideas on how to reevaluate the way the day is structured for each of my children.

    Thank you
    Julie

    1. Thank you, Julie. Your daughter sounds very like my son as regards the schedule, and your son like my daughter. I’m amazed by how efficiently J(8) gets through a visual list, whereas for C(9) a list seems to drain her energy and learning enthusiasm – she wants to be able to fully immerse herself in each project without other things weighing on her.

      And as I said on your blog, thanks for this series, it’s a great idea. Lucinda

  3. Your homeschooling looks similar to ours. We don’t use curriculum either. We use books Keilee loves and things I find online and things like that. I am impressed by your daughter’s handwriting! Neither Keilee or I write that pretty. 🙂 I LOVE project based learning. It is one of my favorite ways for Keilee to learn. Happy weekend Lucinda!

    1. You always leave such lovely comments, Karen – thank you 🙂 My daughter learnt to write neatly at private school (LOL) – pretty coloured gel pens encourage her to keep it up! Happy weekend to you guys too!

  4. don’t you just love a good whiteboard? i have individual ones for the kids to work out math problems or try to figure out the spelling for a particular word or even just to doodle on while i read aloud. and then i have a big one for our daily assignments. but i think you’re onto something. wonder if a schedule of sorts would help us this summer? nothing too formal or school-ish, but to give us direction.

    oh, and thanks for visiting. it’s very hard to tell spd behavior from just regular kid stuff so i try to treat both as with a discipline approach: teaching appropriate behavior or words in a particular situation. both require kids to learn respectable behavior no matter what is causing it.

    1. I was so excited to come across your SPD page – thank you for replying over here too. Yes you’re probably right, they do need to learn how to learn how to behave no matter what. Easier said than done sometimes though! I’m reading the Explosive Child today which is giving me some extra tools.

      Oh yes and whiteboards – love love love! I bought several in Target when I was over in Florida last year. My husband thought it was hilarious that I returned from Disneyworld with a suitcase full of whiteboards.

  5. I really liked your comments about routine vs. detailed plans! I, too, thrive on routine, but actually don’t do all that well with detailed plans. My daughters REALLY don’t like for me to make detailed plans because that can feel very confining. I do like lists, though…they help me to remember what I was thinking of, keep me on track sometimes, and it helps to get thoughts down on paper and out of my head!

    1. Hi Susan 🙂 Yes I find detailed plans confining too. But I agree about lists. Oh yes, wonderful lists! I just have to remember to check them 😀

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