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Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Proof is in the......Planning?

I have a secret, do you want to know what it is?.....OK here goes.... I LOVE planning! There, it's out, I said it.
Sorry, are you disappointed? Not what you were expecting?
Well I do it's true. It think it's somethimg about the excitement of seeing something developed from idea to reality. From vision to a tangible outcome. So I guess I'm quite well suited to Home Education because I spend a good deal of my time planning and preparing. If you've found a way not to. Don't tell me. Heehee
Having decided to base our homeschooling around monthly themes, I promptly began planning. I started by deciding which subjects I was going to focus on. For us that meant core subjects of;
                          1) Literacy.      2) Numeracy.     3) Islamic Studies.    
I had originally included History & Geography on this list, but I quickly realised that for us a better fit is something I'm calling "Cultural Studies". More on that later. Alongside the 3 core subjects there's;
                         4) Science.       5) Project Work.    6) Arts & Crafts.
As Bambina is only 5, the content of each subject is a mixture of Reception (K5) and Year 1 (Grade 1). This has suited us due to the fact that in terms of Numeracy we had to back track quite a bit, but in Literacy and most of her other subjects she has been doing Year 1 work for a while. We use a combination of manipulatives, worksheets, the odd workbook and oodles of arts & crafts. We used workbooks more in the first month or so but we have realised that Bambina is a Visual/Kinesthetic learner so we introduce concepts via manipulatives, games, youtube, discussion, books, DVDs, art etc and we concretise learning using worksheets/workbooks. I use the National Curriculum to inform but not dictate what we are learning about.
Finally there are several extra curricula activities including; Arabic & Quran class, Rainbows ( aka GirlGuides) and Gymnastics. She will also be attending a Home Education Supplementary class one morning a week.
I can hear the gasps from here! Yes it seems alot when written down, but trust me in the five months we've been homeschooling there are still times when we have completed everything and have to think of something extra to do. So far this works for us. I try to stay flexible and constantly review/assess as we go along.
One of my greatest tools in terms of planning is an Android App called My Class Schedule by Sebastian Meyer. It's a free app and I use it every day. Although I pay no attention to the times down the side, it gives me a great colour coded visual of what we need to accomplish each day and where we need to go. I've tried to include a screenshot of the app to give an idea of layout. Alongside this I have a planning book which I've divided into themes. In each theme I have divided it further into subjects and that's where I make all my planning notes covering what I want to accomplish each month in each subject.
In my excitement I turned out the planning for four months worth of themed work before she'd even finished at the primary school! Heehee, I am nothing if not eager. So there I was with my daily timetable and colour coded theme folders, did it go exactly as I'd planned? Did it heck as like. First of all we went abroad for 4 weeks and ended up staying 3 months! As I hadn't brought all my carefully planned work with me, those same fantastically planned out, colour coded themed units in their pretty plastic folders are still where I put them in my draw. Aaah well, we will use them at some point.
We are still doing themes each month, we just haven't done the ones I so diligently planned yet! Sometimes we do "mini-units" which last a week, we might do this before starting a monthly topic or during times like Ramadan when our family's schedule is turned upside down. Which is now by the way. See my post on Ramadan.
These are based on the concept of "Delight-led Learning". This is just a cutesy way of saying we do what Bambina wants. How I interpret this for our homeschool may be quite different from others. I laminated a sheet called "Things I Want To Learn About" (sorry I can't remember where I downloaded it from) and stuck in on the fridge. Then I explained to Bambina that when she thought of things she'd like to learn about she could use a whiteboard marker and write them on the list. I made it clear that it wouldn't always be instant as some things take planning and sometimes we'll be in the middle of something else. So far she's asked for; Elephants (done), ice skating, India, China, Brazil, Horses, Cats and Dogs...... Stupid list. Lol
So far we have done one monthly themed unit on The Human Body, not one of the ones I had planned on doing but it was brilliant. I'll do a post showing some of her work soon. As it is Ramadan until mid-August, we will be using her suggestions as mini topics until then.
In conclusion, I have learnt a valuable lesson early on in this homeschooling lark. It is important to make plans and be organised, it really is. As long as you are ready to ditch your plan and follow Gods plan. An important lesson for life too methinks.
QM

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