Organizing Thoughts

I love creating organizational plans. However, I have lived with myself long enough to know I am far better at creating the plans than at living with them. I also know that standard organizational methods often don’t work well for me (I cannot follow a shopping list to save my life) and it usually takes a lot of tweaking to get things to work right. So I’m a bit apprehensive about having to actually organize and plan schooling rather than simply sticking to my strength of capitalizing on the children’s questions and interests.

This is my practice year, though. D1 at five (in two weeks) now seems to be ready for a small (very small) amount of regular practice in reading and writing, but our state does not require formal lesson plans or reporting until six. So I can play with what works for just a few subjects and hopefully find the right mix.

One particular challenge is the interrelationship between keeping things on paper and keeping things on the computer and/or online, both for planning and for record keeping. There needs to not only be a specific place to put different things, but a particular reason for putting things where they are–and it has to be easy, because in the throes of a new idea I am far too likely to grab something and plunk it in the handiest place, quickly resulting in total chaos.

So here’s my initial plan:
Planning
Computer: General links, organized by topic; Forms, customized; materials to print.
3-ring binder: Specific curriculum plans and lessons (by topic); calendar;
Files in portable basket: immediate month and next two (topical subdivisions) for hard copy materials for students (maps, magazine pictures, etc.)

Recording
Computer: Month by month general summary with pictures of highlights (on blog); end of year personal summary of best books, materials, etc., for use with future children and reporting purposes.
Composition notebook: Monthly book list; daily record of activities and observations.

For this year I plan to continue with the things we have been doing (more or less sporadically, as energy allows): daily read-aloud time (which has now expanded to chapter books as well as picture books and a Bible story), with singing and prayer; reciting a Bible passage at breakfast; playing math games or with math manipulatives as a free choice; observing nature while playing outside; telling stories of holidays; playing with art materials.

To this I would like to add a brief reading and handwriting lesson with D1 (we’re going to try italic handwriting, although I’m having trouble finding free materials); playing "Visitors" and "Simon Says" in Spanish; and making a weekly journal page, perhaps collectively, that shows a seasonal nature observation. If D2 wants to participate in the reading lessons I have an alphabet book made for him using vehicles for each letter of the alphabet to get us started; we’ll see what interests him from there.

It sounds like a lot all written out together like that (well, at least it sounds like a lot when you also factor in constant supervision of two very inquisitive toddlers all by one very sleep deprived mother), but we *have* been doing the things on the first list (some with the aid of hired help) and most of the things on the second list should only take a few extra minutes a day. It is definitely going to be less work than it would be to take her to kindergarten and bring her back every day, with four little ones, no car, and a district that doesn’t have bus service!

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