Dissecting The Big Paper

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

**See the first part of this planning post here.**

1. Fold your paper into 12 squares and label the squares, starting with the month you begin school and ending with the month you finish. For us that is 11 months (August through June.) We only do school 4 days a week, and don’t really do much of anything in December.

2. Print out a calendar that will show you how many days there are per month and where the important holidays fall. Here is a resource for this from Jean Miller www.calendarlabs.com. Go through every month and color in the squares on your calendar printout when you know you will not be doing school. This could be holidays, vacations, birthdays, weekends, whatever. I make sure to note these days (holidays, birthdays) in several places.

3. Okay, this next step could be the BEST planning tip I ever received. And it comes from  . . . you guessed it . . . Jean Miller. (She really is a genius. Have you been to her website yet?) OK ready? Count the days you have available for main lesson per month. Remember to take into account any co-op days or regularly occurring off-days that you don’t do school. This was a game changer for me, because it helped me to see the actual amount of time I had per block. We don’t do school on Fridays, so I am only counting 4 days per week, not including holidays, birthdays, etc. There is anywhere from 8 days (August, December, June) to 20 days (October is a whopper this year!) to an average of 15-16 days per block/month (September, November, January, February, March, April, May). Put this number somewhere prominent as it will guide and determine your weekly and daily plans.

4. Before I get into planning on a weekly or daily basis, I need to get the order of my blocks solid. This is slightly intuitive and consequently, hard to explain. First I determine the “big” blocks that need to come later in the year. (For grade 6, this will be Physics and Medieval History. For grade 2, this will be Saints and Heroes and the novel The King of Ireland’s Son.) Then I try to put blocks that require field trips in months with nicer weather (grade 6: geology/October). We do math in January simply because it does not require a lot of preparation and that is what I need trying to get back to school after our extended break in December. In addition to these factors, I try to alternate math, history/language arts and science blocks. Anne Cleveland pointed this out in her excellent planning talk on The Waldorf Homeschool Expo this year. I don’t know if I paid attention to this before, but it is something I am taking into account this year.

5. Once I have done the four steps above, I feel like I have given myself a solid foundation to work with. Knowing how many days I have per block helps me rein in the number of resources I think I need. If I only have 16 days to teach a certain block and I read a new story every other day, that means I need 8 stories. If I need only 8 stories, I don’t need to beg, borrow, steal and purchase 101 books! Once I narrow down my resources, the number of days also helps me to divide how I am going to teach the block. Usually, I like to have my blocks fall into the confines of a month, however, some blocks in the upper grades need more than a month. Last year, Greece needed 6 weeks and this will happen with Rome this year. I know I am using Charles Kovacs’ book Ancient Rome which is divided into 3 sections. If I have 6 weeks to teach the block, that gives me 2 weeks per section. (For another take on this, see this post from last year. For a reality check, see this post.)

Below you will find a revised block schedule for next year. Things I’ve scrapped are in red; things I’ve added are in green. It is ongoing and ever-changing. I feel like our first semester (August through December) is pretty tight. The rest will be adjusted in December/January.

August:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Bird Study/Form Drawing/Math Review (2 weeks)
  • Jude (grade 2) – Bird Study/Form Drawing/Math Review (2 weeks)

September:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Rome (4 weeks)
  • Vincent Math Focus – Arithmetic Review/Practice; Key to Decimals Book 1
  • Jude (grade 2) – Animal Legends (4 weeks)

October:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Rome Con’t (2 weeks) / Geology (3 weeks) / Biography Study (2 weeks)
  • Vincent Math Focus – Arithmetic Review/Practice; Key to Percent Book 1
  • Jude (grade 2) – Math (4 weeks) / Nature (1 week)

November:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Business Math (3 weeks)
  • Vincent Grammar/Math Focus – Grammar/Punctuation Practice/Geometric Drawing
  • Jude (grade 2) – Uncle Remus Tales (3 weeks) Celtic Legends (3 weeks)

December:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Ancient China (2 weeks) European Geography (2 weeks)
  • Vincent Grammar/Math Focus – Grammar/Punctuation Practice/Geometric Drawing
  • Jude (grade 2) – Festival of Stones, Reg Down

January:

  • Vincent (grade 6) –Geometry (4 weeks) Geometric Drawing (4 weeks)
  • Vincent Grammar Focus: Grammar/Punctuation Practice
  • Jude (grade 2) – Math (3 weeks) / Nature (1 week)

February: Room of Requirement

  • Vincent Math Focus – Arithmetic Review/Practice; Key to Decimals Book 2

March:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Physics (4 weeks)
  • Vincent Math Focus – Arithmetic Review/Practice; Key to Percent Book 2
  • Jude (grade 2) – Saints and Heroes (4 weeks)

April:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Medieval History (4 weeks)
  • Vincent Math Focus – Arithmetic Review/Practice; Key to Decimals Book 3
  • Jude (grade 2) – Math (3 weeks) / Nature (1 week)

May:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Arthurian Legends / Time Line / A Little History of the World, EH Gombrich (4 – 5 weeks)
  • Vincent Math Focus – Arithmetic Review/Practice; Key to Percent Book 3
  • Jude (grade 2) – King of Ireland’s Son, Padraic Colum (4 weeks)

June:

  • Vincent (grade 6) – Wrap Up / Review (2 weeks)
  • Jude (grade 2) – Wrap Up / Review (2 weeks)

Listening

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Tom took the boys to a baseball game tonite and I’m home having a glass of wine and doing some organizing – wild Saturday night here at the farmhouse!! It was a little too quiet, so I put on Alison Manzer’s interview from the recent Waldorf Global Expo. I know Alison personally, and love her view of Waldorf homeschooling as something freeing, approachable and expansive. As I wind down another school year, and begin to think about the next, I am so thankful for her insights and enthusiasm as to what is truly possible when we homeschool with Waldorf inspired methods. She is like a breath of fresh air. If you find yourself with some free time, listen to Alison’s interview, aptly titled “Adapting Waldorf to You”. Donna Ashton has generously offered the Expo replays for free again this weekend. You can find them here. And if you listen, I’d love to know what you thought.

Shout Out: Global Waldorf Expo

I listed Donna Ashton’s 4th Annual Global Waldorf Expo in my Links and Thinks this week, but I wanted to give it a proper mention. When I first came to Waldorf, Donna had just recorded her first Expo. I purchased those recordings and things like rhythm, main lesson blocks and the temperaments finally started to make some sense. I love having an audio library that I can listen to during my summer planning and also throughout the year. I had planned on purchasing this year’s recordings as well and was surprised by a sweet incentive in my inbox this morning.
Early Bird *Special*
For any Expo package purchased Now thru May 14 (Option 1,2 or 3) receive
The Special Jumpstart: Waldorf Basics Program FREE!  $97 Value
and
For anyone who purchases Option 3: Grand Package (All 4 Years of the Expo products)
You will get your choice of the:
Elementary Secrets Course (Program for lower grades)  $197 Value
Super Simple Kindergarten Syllabus  $297 Value
I wanted to pass this along, and also disclose that the links from my blog to the expo are affiliate links. This is the first year Donna has done this, but I was just as enthusiastic to promote the Expo last year without the kickback. You can also listen to the recordings for free for 24 hours after they air. Check out all the details here.