a) Shuffling children to and from the pool;
b) Planning all the things;
c) Buying too many books;
d) Professional development; or
e) All of the above.
If you guessed "e) All of the above," then you are CORRECT!
In between shuffling kids to and from the pool, I planned all the things, bought too many books, and finished up some professional development. I am pretty sure this will sound very familiar to other homeschooling families and most teachers. However, I know that there is a decent chunk of the population who still does not quite understand what teachers do all summer long.
It would be a really long post if I went into detail about everything I did, but I would like to share what the part about "planning all the things" looked like for me.
1) Making Sure We Have a Basic School ScheduleOur state requires that we complete 180 days of school each year, so I like to sit down with the school calendar and our family calendar to plan a rough outline for the year. I try to account for things like family vacation, holidays, birthdays, and planning time for me. If necessary, I will make adjustments or notes on the fly, but I like having the basic plan laid out for me ahead of time so that I am not surprised if we fall behind. Last year, we alternated quarters (roughly nine weeks each) between unit studies and project-based homeschooling. That way I have two stretches of the year when I am doing heavy planning and teaching and two stretches of the year when the sprouts choose their own areas of interest to explore. It balanced out nicely, so I am following the same alternating schedule this year. For unit studies, I requested ideas from the sprouts, and we agreed to study oceans in the first quarter and anatomy in the third quarter.
2) Choosing Curricular MaterialsWhether we are doing unit studies or project-based homeschooling, I set time aside everyday for the sprouts to practice reading, writing, and mathematics. This year I am continuing with a few things that have worked for us in the past and expanding their role. Science, social studies, and the arts will largely be incorporated into our unit studies. For math, we are continuing with Bedtime Math on Mondays and "Game-day Fridays" from last year. I also had a lot of success with Marilyn Burns' Math By All Means when I tried a unit last year, so I am going to ditch our district text and use those units year round this time. They are not aligned to Common Core; however, they are cross-curricular and very hands-on, which is an absolute must for First Sprout. She ran into major trouble with math last year when it suddenly was not hands-on anymore. For language arts, we are looking to Bravewriter for copywork, Poetry Teatime, Big Juicy Conversations, and Friday Freewrite-- plus lots and lots of awesome read alouds.
3) Planning Our First Nine WeeksThis involves looking through all of our books for the oceans unit study, planning video playlists, tracking down science experiments, and finding art projects. I use Pinterest to keep track of unit study ideas ahead of time so that I have a repository of goodies when I sit down to plan. I start by sketching everything out in my bullet journal, and I have been known to solicit ideas from friends and family too. I like to type everything out so that I look organized, but the truth is that my plans are always subject to change. This at least provides the illusion that I have all of my bases covered!
4) Organizing Our School Space
We homeschool in our dining room at the same table where everyone eats, plays with LEGO, and creates artwork. I have posted in the past about how I label and organized all of our learning materials, so not much changes with that from year to year. Mostly I try to inventory materials over the summer to see what needs pitched, donated, or replaced. Then I get our theme book shelf organized to support our unit study. As it turns out, I, um, have a few books pertaining to oceans.
5) Updating Our Morning BasketWhile the idea of having a Morning Basket is kind of a specific thing, our morning basket is basically where I keep all of the materials for our structured school time. For some reason the words "it's time for morning basket" generate fewer arguments than "it's time for school!" I am not sure why it makes a difference, but I am going to roll with it. I started with a small(er) basket about a year and a half ago, but with all three sprouts officially school age, I knew I needed an update. This year we have pouches for copywork, our writing notebooks, math books, weekly read-alouds, my morning binder (aka the plans), and a few odds and ends for warming up our brains in the morning. Looking at my updated morning basket really gets me excited to start the year!
6) Preparing PortfoliosLast but not least, I took time this summer to prepare a portfolio for each sprout. Every year, I start create a three-ring binder with a learner profile that includes their name, age, overview, strengths, challenges, and goals for the year. Then I add a self-portrait that they create at the start of the year. The next page is for health records, and other documentation I want to track. I also like to splurge on pocket dividers so that I can keep hold of scrap papers, brochures, maps, tickets, etc. I include tabs for Art, Literacy, Math, Science, and Social Studies so that I can easily store papers by subject as needed. With the portfolios setup and ready to go, I don't have to worry about falling behind (as much) during the busy school year. As a certified Pennsylvania teacher homeschooling under the "private tutor" option, I do not have to maintain a portfolio or have it evaluated. However, I am a big fan of covering my butt, so I keep them anyway. Plus, I know that one day when the sprouts are moving away on their own, I will cherish these memories.
Now that you know what my summer has looked like, tell me about your summer!
Until Next Time,