Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Educating K | How I Planned our Whole Year

I love planning.  Planning for a holiday or planning a new concept for Love Hijab.  But planning a lesson is something I'd done a very long time ago and wasn't quite sure how planning a whole year let alone a day of homeschooling was going to have in store for me.


I've watched plenty of Youtube videos on how some parents like to plan every week, whilst others prefer to do it weekly, termly or even yearly.  I found that, for me, when I've planned everything out in advance it makes teaching a better experience and I can be prepared for the lessons too.  So, if I need any equipment I have plenty of time to order it in.

During our first year of homeschooling, I planned termly and found that it felt so good because I knew what we were doing and so did K.  Each day, I would just have to look at what I had to do and we were set.  Often, K would just take a look at what she had to do, grab her book, turn to the page and just complete the task whilst I was getting ready.  Usually she did this for Maths.  So it worked brilliantly.

Making the skeleton or the actual plan without all the lessons is the easy part.  But adding all the lessons and what will be happening on what day or week is the most difficult part.  Trying to fit everything in so it works around the days you'll be teaching and the days you have a holiday was a big task.  Because remember teaching Primary aged children means you're teaching them all the subjects not just one.

So here's how I did it.  Firstly, I made a full year weekly calendar from September 2017 up until July 2018 with not only the dates but also all the subjects K would be learning.  Then I checked the website of a school in our town that had their calendar available online so that I could see when the schools will be taking their holidays.  I felt like it was important for K to have breaks when the other children did and be at school when they were too because although it was a big change for me I had to take into consideration that it was a big step for K too.  She'd always been to school and was very used to that structure so I couldn't change it all completely.  It still had to be familiar to her so she could be comfortable and continue to enjoy learning.


Once I knew when all the holidays were, I crossed all the days off on the calendar.  I marked the first day and last day of school too.  This showed me at a glance when K will be at 'school' and when she will have her holidays.  Now I could mark the Autumn, Spring and Summer Terms and could see how many weeks were in each term.  At first, I didn't think it was relevant, but when you see what they are learning then it is.  For example, if you are learning about flowers in Science then the best time would be Spring/Summer.  There's no point doing it in Winter when you can't see them anywhere and so you can't go and explore and make the most of the lesson.


My plan was really coming together and I thought it would be super easy to add what K would be learning for each lesson on the correct days but actually fitting everything in so that we didn't go over the total number of teaching days was proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought.

I had actually started planning for Year 4 back in May because I didn't want to be doing it in the Summer holidays.  I wanted to have a holiday away from anything school related so I tried to plan very early on.  Although I didn't finish until much later, almost 2 months later, I got a chance to see what was going to work and what wasn't.  I had a chance to really look into all the books as well and didn't have to make any quick decisions.  I had enough time to decide which books we would be using and I'll be talking about that in my next few posts.

So back to adding all the subjects into my plan.  Maths, Science, Geography, History, Computing and Islamic Studies were't too difficult to add to our plan since I had all the lessons ready in front of me and just had to either add the title or book and page number to our calendar.  It was English that was proving to be super difficult to plan.  I must have tried to plan English upto 5 times and eventually towards the end of the school year we decided to teach K English with an online school; Wolsey Hall Oxford.  Unlike Maths, for example, English isn't as straight forward.  There's no right or wrong answer like Maths and the criteria is also not that simple either.  There's so much more to English like, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spelling, punctuation, grammar, being able to write and recognise different styles of writing and the list goes on.  Just typing that gives me a headache!


I'll be talking more about Wolsey Hall Oxford in my next post but just so you get an idea, we will be learning English Monday - Thursday.  All the lessons are planned and books have been sent to us too.  All I need to do is follow the lesson plan, teach K and once all work is completed for that week, scan it and send it to her tutor, who will mark all her work and give K enough feedback to help her with her lessons.  I don't have to plan any lessons or worry whether I'm teaching her everything she needs to know for Year 4 or that she's missing out.  It's taken so much pressure off my shoulders and it feels great!

Now that my whole year was planned and I had managed to add all the lessons in for each subject in Year 4,  I could see that some subjects like Geography and History would be finished well before the year ends.  This means that she would have more free time to explore topics she's interested in.  Other subjects like Computing would also be completed so I've decided to continue with this subject and learn Year 5 and Year 6 work too, instead of stopping as it's a subject K really enjoys. So that by the time she finishes Year 4 she will have completed all the Primary school work for Computing.  Maths will also be finished so I can either continue with it and start Year 5 or maybe even do some revision exercises.  I haven't decided yet.

You'll also see that in my full year plan I have also included a Termly calendar which has all the dates for any special events, celebrations, Religious events, sporting events etc so that we can learn about those things as they are happening.  I don't do these as a structured lesson with lesson plans as such.  A comprehension activity or video on Youtube relevant to the topic is usually enough.  Just before the Summer holidays K learnt about Wimbledon using a comprehension activity and watched some matches as well as being the reporter in a role play.  I prefer to teach in different ways to keep her engaged so that she continues to enjoy learning.


BTW, yes, I am following the National Curriculum but I'm not being too strict on it.  When it comes to homeschooling, you're not required to follow any curriculum, you can teach any way you like as long as your child is learning.  For me, following the National Curriculum just made things easier for me, I guess it's something I'm used to and so I can just check what she needs to be learning and go with it.  I can use it as a checklist!  We can also discuss the topics further if K wants to learn more than what's required by the National Curriculum.  That's the beauty about homeschooling.  We don't have to stop learning just because she's not in that particular year group.

I can see that there are great benefits with homeschooling.  There's also less pressure and you can work at a pace that suits you.  My plan also allows me to see when we can take K on educational trips based on what she is learning so that they benefit her and enhance her learning further.  So far, I'm really enjoying educating K and our year has started really well.  I feel so much more relaxed and in control.  I know K is learning and she's enjoying it too.  All those late nights and hours of planning have definitely been worth it.




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