Friday, August 14, 2009

School Planner : Curriculum part 1

As I mentioned in the previous post, one of the sections in my school planner is labelled "Curriculum." This section contains the specifics of our learning for the year. I settled on this method in an attempt to avoid the frustration of "feeling behind." The first curriculum I ever used was Sonlight (a wonderful curriculum, and a blessing for me as a new homeschooler). The curriculum guide gives you all your subject assignments for the week on one page. What I found, of course, was that we never moved at the same pace through all of our subjects. I found myself moving ahead in one area, and taking it slower in another. Psychologically, this became very disheartening, since I always felt behind. That does not bother some people, but it gave me feelings of guilt and frustration. I don't want to start my school morning with those feelings, I want to begin my school day motivated, excited about the day. I like checklists. They motivate me, they keep me on track, and they help me keep my sanity. So I decided that checklists were a better way to track our overall progress through the year. This way, I can turn to my list for a subject, and see exactly what we have covered so far and what we have left to accomplish. There are no dates on these checklists. Instead they are lists of chapters, concepts, books, projects, whatever is applicable to that subject. As we move through the school year, I mark each chapter or concept off my list. For those of you who cannot stand curriculum guides and strict lesson plans, I see this as a great way to add structure without feeling like you are trapped into a detailed plan. I need structure, I need accountability, but part of the beauty of homeschooling is that it has taught me to be more flexible. I want a path for us to follow, but if we stray briefly from that path for other opportunities I want to feel good about that, not frustrated because we aren't "on schedule." By having a separate checklist for each subject, I can move through them at whatever pace we need, without the emotional stress of feeling "behind". For math I use the concepts chart provided with Math on the Level. It lists every math concept your child needs to master from preschool through pre-algebra, with the reference chapter for teaching that concept and a place to bubble in to indicate it has been learned. With Latin, I simply type out the chapters from our Latin curriculum and add boxes to check off indicating that chapter is completed. This concept is especially helpful if you follow a CM approach for subjects such as art and music. It is easy to allow those things to slide, or to not be able to see what you are really accomplishing. So, at the beginning of the school year I select our artists and composers (usually three) and create a checklist for both subjects. This allows me to teach these areas in a casual and flexible manner, but still hold myself accountable.

The subjects I do a little differently are science and history, and that will be the subject of the part 2 post :)

1 comment:

Mary@notbefore7 said...


I am a friend of Jennifer at "do the next thing". I have been all over your blog the last few weeks and just want to thank you for posting all of this great information!

I have a first grader and kindergartener this year with two littles underfoot and you have encouraged me and saved me so much time!

God bless you as you begin the year!