I'm working on lesson plans, which is something that I haven't spent a lot of time on, lately.
When we started unschooling, I put our structured lesson plans aside and turned to less detailed forms of record-keeping. But, there were things about our planning that I missed. In particular, I liked having a list of ideas and some structure with which to start our day, and I missed the ready-made record-keeping that was so easy and simple to maintain.
So, now, I'm experimenting with a different form of lesson plans, which is more flexible and more child-directed than our old ones. I'm hoping that, instead of being a checklist of must-do tasks, they will provide suggestions, ideas and motivation, which will lay a foundation and bring some inspiration to the children's days.
So far, I have a basic weekly outline and some strewing ideas to include in the back pages. I'm not worried about having 'gaps' - there will always be gaps in any education - and I'm not concerned about forgetting anything useful. We'll adjust and write notes in the pages, as the term develops. If we go down a completely different track altogether, I'll just edit the plan on the computer and, then, replace the altered pages.
Here's what I have, so far:
Because I am strewing ideas and possibilities, I have tried to include alternatives for reading and I've left room to jot down topics or pages read, rather than specify an amount to be completed. In the past, I've found that it's difficult to predict how much time is needed for each activity, and it's hard to be flexible or to allow for rabbit trail discoveries, if the lesson plans are too detailed.
As always, we are planning together. We are choosing books together and making decisions, which are based entirely upon the children's needs and interests. I am offering suggestions but I am not basing the plan on what I think the children ought to be learning. We talk about their goals and discuss how they might achieve them, but, if they are not interested in doing something, then I'm not interested in putting it in the plan.
If you're not unschooling, that might sound risky and you'd be forgiven for thinking it would result in spoilt and undisciplined children. However, my experience has shown otherwise. I've found that it's just not worthwhile, trying to teach something to a student who isn't interested. It, also, deprives the student of other, more profitable studies, as well as the opportunity to discover real passions. As for discipline, not only can it be learnt in non-academic pursuits, I think it is, also, just as likely, if not more likely, to be learnt in a form of learning for which the student feels an attachment.
I'm still working on the strewing pages. I'll include some reference materials, ideas for activities and memory aids. Here's a list of some things we've included, in the past:
- Latin vocabulary
- Reading list
- Greek and Latin roots
- Diagramming exercises
- Useful websites
- Spelling rules
- Phonics charts
- Times tables
- Hundreds charts
- Weekly word lists
- Prayers (although, the children have a separate prayer book, as well)
- Music scales
- Art and Music chronologies
- Short articles and biographies
- Craft ideas
- Domestic learning tools
- Music lists
- Nature study ideas
- Excursion ideas
- Time management ideas
- Catechism questions and answers
- Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, Virtues, etc
The ideas will be limited to about 48 pages, as I've found that this is a manageable amount. It makes a good sized booklet, that can be easily stapled, and it provides just enough information to be useful, without being overwhelming.
So, this is where I'm at.
I'll add some colour to the design and some interesting pictures. Then, I'll put in the saints' feast days and I'll add detail and order to the bible entries, so that we can follow a reading plan. But, other than that, I'll keep it general to cope with for the inevitable disruptions, and to allow for spontaneity.
It's exciting to be thinking about all we'll be learning, both together and on our own. And, I think it makes me feel confident to know there is some direction and purpose to what we do. The plan may be loose but, hopefully, it will form the starting point for individual exploration and discovery.
I wonder if you use a plan like this or something different? What methods do you use and how do you make it work?