Homeschool planning outside of CC

Proper performance requires planning! This is true of everything including homeschool. How do you form a homeschool plan?

I’ve written about this topic often here and my other blog, http://www.ccofsiliconvalley.wordpress.com.

My oldest is almost 8, and I’m teaching my kindergartener too. I’m also enriching my 2 year old and caring for my baby. It’s a busy fun year, that’s for sure!

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

A good homeschool plan is done in five steps.

  1. Know your goals.
  2. Form a schedule.
  3. Reverse engineer.
  4. Execute.
  5. Review and course correct.

Let’s start at 1. Know your family’s goals and mission, and goals for each child for his or her life while they are under your roof, and then for just this year. You’re starting big and getting small… like a reverse triangle. Start with ideas and then get tactical. Ask God about the big and the small. Trust that He has an opinion and a direction for you!

You should have overall goals for preschool, grades 1-3 and 4-5, 6-9, and 10-12th grades… your goals done have to be exactly as I’ve outlined it, but it’s better to work in chunks and then break them down.

Look at state standards. Look at some excellent homeschool curriculum’s scope and sequence. Compare and contrast. Narrow down your list of priorities.

If you homeschooled last year I hope you assessed your progress against your goals (I hope you set some basic goals last year!). If not start this year right by making some goals. You cannot proceed in planning well if your goals are unclear. Did I say make some goals? I mean it. Spend the most time here.

Good goals are smart ones. They are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Are your goals smart enough? If not, retool!

If you “test” via standardized tests then know how to prepare your kid for that and scatter it into your year. It’s kinder to everyone that way!

For example by June 2020, my oldest will have completed Singapore Math 3A.

Now that you know your goals, form a schedule.

2. Form a schedule does not mean write down what you’re going to do every hour of the day. Again, start big and get small. Start by getting a calendar out and blocking out vacation time, field trip days, days you just know you will be “out” like holidays or birthdays. In my family every birthday is a free day, and every Friday is Shabbat preparation. Technically we could call Friday a home ec day, but I just don’t “count” those days in my planning activities.

For example, I have 8 days I am homeschooling in July, and 12 in August. The rest of the year is fuller until December and January, and then we ramp up again through May, and slow down in June. And I know I need time at the end of the year for assessments and planning, so I’ve accounted for those.

3. Reverse engineer. Now that you know what days you are planning to homeschool, and you’ve adjusted to include sick, travel, holiday, and field trip days, go pick your curriculum. How do you choose it? That’s a whole other topic and there are a lot of google searches that will satisfy your every curriculum question. So, get out your curriculum out one by one, and review the table of contents, lesson planning advice within the curriculum, and get a sense of the scope of that curriculum. Guesstimate how long you want to dedicate to each lesson or topic, and how long your child may take doing it. I literally count pages in some books, whereas in others I look more at topics. Some topics I cover daily such as math and handwriting and reading. Other topics I cover twice a week, once a week, or monthly. I loved executing a loop schedule for two years in a row. This year I will be a little more aggressive about my pace for my oldest child, whereas the younger kids can enjoy the loop schedule.

4. Execute. Okay it sounds simple, but when you are dealing with children and you who all have sin issues or sickness issues or unplanned events it gets complicated. But really, you have to actually do the work. Or else it will pile up and become a mountain that can feel overwhelming. Yuck.

5. Review and course correct. The great thing about a plan is you know where you should be at the end of a week, a month, six weeks and a quarter. So stop where you are and look at the roadmap. Make sure you’re steering well and the windshield is clean. If it’s foggy, go back and see why. Do you need to change your plan? Make up a day? Deal with a work ethic issue in you or your child? Have you been realistic?

Planning well is an investment that takes time. It took me six hours to finish, and I have about two more hours to put in until I am done. I have left to create my son’s homeschool planner. I am teaching him executive functioning skills, so he needs this planner in front of him. I started this idea for him last year. He will work within week-long agendas, and break them down into daily goals and tasks. I will sit down with my planner in front of him and we will work together. It will be fun… we will do it over tea and cookies or something nice so he learns to enjoy this time.

Alright folks! I hope this helps you!

Pencils and sharpies,

Robyn Cooper, mom to four little heros

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Older siblings | tough toddlers

Do you have many kids? I have four. It gets easier. Toddlers are hard! Babies are hard! Kids are hard!

My oldest is almost 8. He was a TOUGH toddler. But if a tough toddler means I’ll have an 8 year old like this, I’ll take him any day of the week! The awesome thing is that he WANTS to do the right thing. His moral compass developed this past year.

He was strong willed and high spirited. I mean STRONG-WILLED! Last night all my boys watched a nature show with me, and my oldest wanted to hold my hand. What a true pleasure! And now he helps keeps all three younger siblings in line and doing well (not to say we are without moments of teasing and fighting – Plenty of that happens!! – but he genuinely cares for his siblings.)

Pic below is him with our baby.

As a parent, he put my training wheels on. I know there are tougher kids than him, but he was (and can still be) really tough.

As a tot, he used to get upset when he was disappointed. Upset meant a full on 30-45 min meltdown… screaming, sobbing, trying to hit me. He’s also a sensory seeker. That curbed around 3.5 yo, along with the development of some impulse control and understanding for delayed gratification. He’s incredibly bright… and always wanted and wants to know why and how… when meant he was always experimenting in his world… and creating problems for me. He needed to know where the arrow was pointing, so to speak.

Love and logic helps me a lot for him and younger kids.

Also, we did a ton of “peacetime”, visualizations, and time in’s when he was a tot. Tons of affirmations too. We still do these. We did lots of massage to reconnect – All my kids have enjoyed and still love these. I tomato-stake my kids when they are disagreeing. This diffuses things.

Now that you’re managing a tot plus a baby, it helps to have busy bags available that you take out ONLY when you’re occupied with the baby… something you know your toddler will love!

Look up http://www.activemamas.wordpress.com and search ^^^ those terms. Some of our early pre-K education is in that blog too.

Hope this helps some of you with these trying times!

Two days and three days

Seems like I have two or three great nights and then a hard one.

I hope this makes you feel better ladies. I’m a fourth time mama, and as confident as I should be (and generally, I feel prepared), I have nights of total frustration and meltdown too!

Each baby and experience is new and different. I hope you give yourselves grace in your own journeys. Don’t expect to only improve… you’ll take three steps forward and one step back along your journey of motherhood. And this is normal.

No one has this parenting thing figured out. You and your baby are unique in the world. Your family is special, whether it’s a family of two or twelve! And you’re all adjusting, including baby! Baby is adjusting too!

Did you ever think of the mind of your baby? Sure you have because you’re a mother now!

I wish babies could talk! But they do, in their own ways. They express fear and joy and comfort and interest and pain and confidence.

I love motherhood, and all it’s humbling ups and downs. I hope you learn to embrace the brokenness that is parenting. I’m convinced God uses this to help mold and shape us, and being molded and shaped is not always pleasant.

The metamorphosis

I was writing to another mama, and it inspired me to write this to you all.

Some of us dream about being a mama when we are just little girls. Others of us rejected the idea of motherhood, and became pregnant anyway. But regardless of where we fall on that spectrum, I think motherhood comes as a shock in many ways. Most of us don’t have a mother who sits us down to explain all “the feelings” that happen. And as we get farther away from one stage, we forget its woes, so when we have grown children we will likely not fully prepare them either.

A new baby comes with some “letting go”. You’ve let go of being “young and free” (relatively speaking). You’re no longer allowed to be selfish (what I mean is you can no longer do things just for your own sake)… you have to PLAN to take care of yourself… even go to the bathroom. You’ve got to time everything now! You may mourn being able to eat a warm meal, or (surprise, surprise), as your precious babies acquire language, to complete a sentence (or a thought!) uninterrupted! You may mourn FOR your older child(ren) who lost their throne as only child, or youngest child, and now have to share your time, space, and energy.

You may mourn your independence. Babies expose our needs for help. And we ALL NEED help, but it’s hard to admit, especially for those of us who fancied ourselves as self-sufficient. This is even harder for those of us who were under-valued or mistreated as we formed our identities.

You look at your children, and you reflect on your own upbringing. And if you were short-changed in any way, those feelings surface. Flashbacks and anger and sorrow and all kinds of feelings rise up. We don’t exactly know how to handle this… no one taught us if this is you. No one told us, we were mistreated because our folks were mistreated. The cycle wasn’t broken. So now you look at your baby, and you think, “how can I?” And you are overwhelmed. Just overwhelmed. Each step feels like a mountain. But you’ll be different, Mama. You’ll rise to the occasion. You’ll break the cycle and you’ll change the map. Because you were born for a time such as this, and God gave you this dear one. And He is your right hand. His word never fails.

Children expose our short-comings. All those things you dislike about yourself? Your children will hold a mirror up to those things because as they grow, they will likely either replicate them, or react to them – this is unintentional of course. And you’ll have to face the dragons: your own reality.

Children make you become confrontational to a degree. You will have to either protect yourself, or your children from people who love and don’t love you, from those who mean you well, and from those who mean you harm. Your in-laws, your siblings, your parents, your friends, even your significant other, and definitely

strangers … once benign relationships… now some of them have formed opinions and these opinions are both offered and pressed on you without invitation, and some people are offended when you don’t comply.

I find the issues around children and child-bearing to be polarizing and I’m not sure why but I do know it heightens the intensity of emotions for moms. OB or midwife. Homebirth or c section. Drugs or no drugs. Circ or intact. Cosleep or own room. Vax or no-vax. CIO or attachment parenting. Bottle or breast. Just wait till your kids get to be school aged! That’s a whole new ball of wax! You’ll soon learn to shut out and drown out negativity (I hope you do!) and take in all information like a buffet, picking up what you like and leaving behind what seems unsavory to you.

I’ve learned that the hardship of new life is par for the course: feeling blue sometimes, feeling unprepared, the tears… they help contrast the sheer jubilation that the same life will continue to bring you. You’ll be caught up in the beautiful thing that IS life itself: a contrast of emotions, wrapped up in relationships. The old saying goes: better to loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It’s true. I’ve lived enough life to know I’m not guaranteed time with loved ones, not even my children. So I choose to live life sober minded, erring on the side of optimism and excellence, and to make choices that bring me and my ship (my family) just one baby step closer at a time. For us, we are inching our way towards Jesus. For you… well, you get to make that choice. And this is not a religious post. This post was just about why you have all these BIG FEELINGS.

This is just a SHORT list of things that are changing and will need to change. It happens rapidly. We are exhausted, and barely have time and energy to meet basic needs, much less tend to these larger issues! But they are pressed on us.

Add a labor story, a good one even, but especially if you had a traumatic one, and the whole issue of recovery has become four-dimensional. I’ve had both. If you’ve had to physical abuse trauma before this can be especially difficult. If you’ve had prior trauma, this can resurface another layer of issues.

What we are contemplating… motherhood… is no simple task. No wonder you are grappling with the change. No one really prepares us for this change or warns us about what happens on the outside and the inside. It’s a big deal. And we undergo this metamorphosis at the same time… we go through it simultaneously, experiencing it on the outside and the inside, multi-dimensionally.

So some of us feel lonesome, worried, fearful, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, incompetent, fully able, blissful, elated, grateful, guilty, and unappreciated… name a million other feelings and include them… and they all apply, and they happen simultaneously, in a swirling pool of emotional soup.

When you are ready, lift your eyes and your heart up to the future. You have the opportunity to create your own winning family culture. Decide what you’re about, even if there are just two of you. Make the decision independently, and with your SO if you have one, and when your children find their self-expression, include them too! Ask God about it too. He has a plan for you!

The point is, MAKE the decisions. Don’t waffle in the wind. Make the choices and stick by them. TRUST your instincts. God gave YOU them and they are for self-preservation and protection. (Unless you find yourself to be untrustworthy with thoughts of self-harm or harm to others… if this is you, get help. We ALL need help. Trust me!).

If you’re feeling something new, or old, it may help you to journal, draw, paint, listen to music, create music, express, say, etc. Try to sit with yourself and feel your feelings and know it’s okay! It’s okay to feel blue. It’s okay to feel happy! It’s okay to kind of mourn the way life was before as you have gone through your own metamorphosis too.

The point is, this metamorphosis probably has you FEELING. There is a REASON for all those feelings. Make some decisions about your loves and your lives as life meets you. If you’re reading this, then life has certainly met you!

Feel free to write about your feelings here. Judge free zone.