Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Trees -- Step by Step Planning Process

This part is about the nitty-gritty of weekly planning.

First of all, I should mention that we have a longstanding tradition about Mondays and Thursdays. They are Housecleaning Days. There are eight of us who live and work at home and we live in a dusty mountain region with a longhaired dog so we really need 2 cleanings a week plus maintenance.

On these days we have a lighter and more "mechanical" academic routine. We also save our screen time -- video games and videos -- for these two days. These things break up the rhythm of a day but we don't want to eliminate them from our lives (my husband is a computer game designer) so the best solution for us is to reserve Monday and Thursday afternoons for these things. This gives me a bit of extra time to plan while the boys are entranced with the game consoles.

I have been doing the bulk of my planning on Fridays and Mondays but after reading Dawn's Lesson Planning I think I will move the beginning to Thursdays. I do not know why I didn't think of it before but chronology is always a bit of a vexed question for me.

Anyway, this is what I do (in theory, that is -- in practice, it varies a bit from week to week):

  • I look at my month-at-a-glance planner which has entries for appointments and other fixed-time events.
  • With the information from the monthly planner, I fill out a week at a glance form and put it in a public place so everyone can see what's on the agenda for the next week (there are some forms here, but I use my own version with regular appointments like therapy and choir already shaded in)
  • I print out and refer to my Motivated Mom checklist and consult my Declutter Calendar 2007.
  • I look at the Liturgical Calendar, and also Saint of the Day (Magnificat) and Mass Readings if I have time.
  • I look at the Year 5 Booklist, and the Year 8 Booklist, and the Ireland Booklist. If there are books I need to request from the library I request them (our local library is tiny so everything I want to get from the library has to be ordered a week or two ahead of the time I need them).
  • I am just starting a habit of looking at Cay's Catholic Mosaic booklist to see which books to request from the library or dig out of my shelves. Right now I don't have a child quite at the developmental age to get the most out of Catholic Mosaic, but I'm trying to get familiar with the books and strew them for my older kids so I can use them when the younger two are at the right age.
  • Then I organize one of my closets: the curriculum closet, the game closet, the arts and crafts closet. I keep some paper with me so I can list discoveries I make and keep them in mind for the future. Organizing things seems to help me think somehow.
Then I brainstorm. Recently I've been trying a sort of mindmapping and it seems to help me think. I list related resources, connections, ideas for introducing things, whatever comes to mind. Even if I don't get to do everything I have written down -- and generally, I don't -- it keeps me motivated and the plan works better than having no plan at all.

  • The sequential subjects like Math and Latin are easy to plan. You just list what's next.
  • Then I look at the Tanglewood Core Book pages to give myself a visual reference for all the subjects I want to cover; including Geography and Habits and memory work.
  • I have just started getting a handle on Charlotte Mason's "broad and generous curriculum". My challenge is plugging all the ideas and options into a sequential day. I've found that if I take CHC's Lesson Planner 2-page spread (if you go here you can see samples and here under Weekly Lesson Plans there is a somewhat similar spread I have used in the past) and use it as a sort of chart for writing down the flow of the day for the two middle boys, it helps me visualize better what we will and won't be able to get to.

I like Dawn's file box method. I don't think I collect enough things ahead of time to need a file box, but visions of accordion folders were running through my head last night -- I have some around the house that I used to use for the older childrens' schoolwork.


Cheryl said...

Thanks for the details on how you plan. I agree that even if I don't get to everything, I'm better off if I have a plan. I think I'll check into that decluttering file you linked to. I love to declutter. Organizing closets is a good idea too.

Anonymous said...

I like your planning posts, Willa. I am rethinking and your posts are givingme some good ideas.

Mindmapping... I love this. This is how think..I have to write things down schematicly- when I first went on my true serious search for God, Trying to decide if Christ was true, I had to draw a map like this to see how the ideas all fit together. I still have that piece of paper I drew it on ... when I lived in Ca in 1991....

Thanks for sharing all you do..