Friday, July 22, 2011

How I Plan Our School Year ... Part I

Have you ever done this exercise? You are told to write down everything you would like for your children in the coming year. Then you are told that you may only have one of those things for your children. After you've chosen that, you are allowed to pick one more thing. With careful consideration, you are then allowed one more thing. This goes round and round until you have a manageable list of goals. I really like this exercise and it is something I like to do each year.

I used to be surprised that academics were rarely at the top of my list, if even on it at all. This is not to say that I do not care about my children's education. Anyone who has read this blog for long knows how much I love to impart my knowledge to my kids. However, in the end I want much more for my kids than to be bright fountains of knowledge.

If you are new here ~ All of our children have some type of special needs, so our goals may seem different than you would expect for their grade levels.

Here is this year's goals in no particular order.

(All Children)
  • Healthy, strong sibling relationships ~ This will be achieved through continued child training, teamwork activities, game playing, family time and great literature.

  • Know how blessed they are ~ This will be achieved through working on charities and great literature.

  • Put forth their best effort ~ This will be achieved by editing their school work and chores and having them redo the work until their best effort shines through. Also, we will be grading their work this year, at the children's request.

  • Have obedient spirits ~ This is achieved through child training and consequences for digressions.

  • Work with a happy heart ~ If you have any hints on this one, I would love to hear it! I have been struggling to teach them this for quite some time now.

  • Patience ~ Oh, this one is so hard for some of mine. I plan to help them develop some patience by working on it with things that they do not desperately want but still holds their interest ... such as stopping a chapter at its climax, doing a puzzle over a period of days, and knowing that an event is coming and waiting for it. (Before, we've tended to keep our kids in the dark about most events.)

  • Be charitable ~ We will be doing charity work each week for 52 weeks.

  • Completion of tasks ~ Ugh! Does anyone else's kids drop stuff everywhere and neglect to put one project away before getting into the next? I guess Mama just has to hound them until they get it.

  • Be prayerful ~ I want the children to be more comfortable with prayer and talk more freely to God. Sometimes they are very repetitive and brief in their praying.

  • Concrete learning ~ I want them to be solid in what they know. I think I sometimes overwhelm them with info because I love learning so much. I will be teaching less and going more slowly, so that it can be more concrete.

Goldilocks (5th grade)

  • Correct her vision ~ Start vision therapy

  • Become a strong reader ~Much of this will be achieved by completing vision therapy.  She is currently unable to cross her eyes or track (which is important in reading). We will be working through many lovely books.

  • Speak clearly and in proper tenses ~ She will be in speech therapy this year and using SPEECHercise level 2 at home.

  • Make a friend ~ Goldilocks is desperate to have a friend of her own. Unfortunately, her recent attempts have failed. With her special needs, she tends to smother people and generally drive them away with all of her demands and controlling ways, so she has never had a friend. We will be working on social skills and reading lots of books on friendships. I am keeping an eye out for appropriate friends. I would welcome any suggestions of books on friendships or how to be a good friend.

  • Work on becoming a lady ~ We will be learning about her changing body and how to conduct yourself at the onset of puberty. We will be doing the Head to Toe Care Cards for Girls from American Girl.

Tom Sawyer (4th grade)

  • Reduce food reactions and improve his health ~ We are working hard to find the right supplements and food to help Tom Sawyer. He will be doing lots of cooking with me to have more ownership over his diet. Food does not have to be scary, hard and limiting.

  • Rekindle his love of learning ~ I really saw a decline in his enjoyment of school last year. I am hoping that some of it was his declining health but suspect that it is more complicated than that. We will be attempting a balance between what I see as important and what he wants to learn (which is non-stop science).

  • Express self through writing ~ He will be concentrating on writing in language arts this year. He will be keeping a journal, doing some book reports, and different writing styles.

  • Speak with a gentle tongue ~ Sometimes Tom Sawyer's tone and words are sharp and hurtful. We will continue this learning through child training, role modeling, and listening to proper tones and proper expression of emotions as heard on books on tapes of great literature.

Little Red Ridinghood (2nd grade)

  • Enjoy reading ~ She has not caught the "love of books bug" yet. We will be reading lots of stories and picture books around her interests. We will also be working through more Five In A Row books.

  • Explore her interest in music ~ Finally, I have a child who shows an interest in my love for music. We will be restarting at home piano lessons (I started lessons too early with the kiddos and ended up dropping it).  Also, we will be continuing with dance and performing arts classes for all the kids. She will be in Ballet II.

  • Work on becoming a lady ~ She will be doing the same program as her sister. (The boys will be working through the book, 101 Things To Do Before You Grow Up, with their Dad.) Little Red Ridinghood will also be working on speaking up for herself and holding her own when dealing with her very bossy sister.

  • Continue improving visual ability ~ Now that she has graduated from vision therapy, we will continue with lots of tracking and eye exercise games at home. She will be doing lots of tangrams, Magic Eye books, and other visual games.

Tim (21)

  • Increase self-confidence ~ through training his dog, Boomer. He will continue with classes at Pet Smart to train Boomer. He hopes to take him all the way through to the Companion Level.

  • Increase independence skills ~ He will be away from home and us for a minimum of 20 hours a week. This will be achieved through his volunteer work at the nature center, dog classes, continuing-ed classes at the community college and fencing lessons.

  • Maintain friendships ~ He will continue spending time with his friends playing Amtgard, board games club, going to the movies, and talking to them on the phone (all new activities for him in the past year). He is really overcoming his shyness! 

  • Continue feeling more comfortable in different social settings ~ Practice, practice, practice all of the above.

All the children will be doing language arts, math, great literature, history (1800's), science, sign language, music, art (Impressionism) and geography (Flat Stanley and make a U.S. states book).



  1. I love, love, love your goals for the years. I always say I need to write our out but just have not done so in the past.
    I am very curious about TS and working on food goals. As a momma of two (extremely severe) food allergy boys I would love any suggestions!

  2. Love this way of planning...may just have to try that! I was touched at how personal yet defined your goals were.

  3. Ditto! I love that your focus wasn't simply on curriculum - textbooks, workbooks, etc - but more personal! Wishing you and the kids a wonderful year ahead!

  4. Dawn, what I like about you is how intentional you are in your parenting and teaching. You have really given this a lot of thought and you obviously know your children well. And, yes, many of my children still leave a "trail" of things they are "done" using. It may take us a lifetime to learn to put things away. If I'm completely honest....I leave my own trails ;)

  5. Thank you for sharing all of this. I've been dragging my feet at planning and really need to just start at the beginning with goals. I feel a little intimidated by that too though to be honest. Thank you for giving me a lot to think about.

  6. I love your goals for the year! They are lovely and very well-thought out for each child. You've definitely inspired me to think past the educational goals!

  7. I love this! I did not think this way at all when planning our was all...what to use for math, what to use for science...but you have made me think more about ALL aspect-the TOTAL child...great post!

  8. I am following you now! Thanks again this post REALLY made me think!

  9. My first concern for the year is always more of our "focus" rather than the actual books we'll use. It is great to see how you planned out your year's goals. I spent a little time looking through your blog- it is nice to meet you! (so to speak:))

  10. It's wonderful to have goals outside of textbooks!! I hope you all have a wonderful year loving, learning, and growing together :)

  11. It is wonderful that so many goals are working on developing their hearts.

  12. What a wonderful approach to planning a school year. I really love that your goals and your focus for them are so prayerful and so personal and so *meaningful*. This is what I want to aspire to as a homeschooling mother. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart with us.

    You don't happen to live anywhere near Cincinnati OH do you?

  13. My DD8 has not caught the reading bug yet either. After considering the Magic Tree House books (as I didn't want the girls tor ead them), we started reading one last night. She read 3 chapters. We won't read them exclusively, but sprinkle them throughout more meaty books.

  14. *Love your goals...
    *We know about that reading bug too...
    *I do hope Goldilocks finds a great friend (other than siblings) to play with and cherish...
    *Have a WONDERFUL Homeschool Year!!

  15. Great list of goals. There is so much more to teach than academics. Have a blessed year!