how to plan for a well-planned school year

the planning nut is at it again

We had previously had qualms about finding an affiliate homeschool provider as we embark on our first year of bahaySKUL for Ari. We prayed hard on this one, as with every other major decision we make, and we feel that we have been led to decide on sticking with TLP. 

Our bahaySKUL trial last April, I would say, was quite successful. We did take a long break last month, but Ari and I are now back to reading practice until the end of June. We stopped math lessons for a while, as I know Ari’s got this one covered, and chose to concentrate instead on tougher reading lessons — digraphs, silent letters and all that jazz. 

By July, we should be following a stricter bahaySKUL schedule, since we no longer only have math and reading but four other subjects to cover. In addition, Ari needs to attend P.E., arts & crafts, computer and leadership classes in school. Turo and I have divvied up the teaching load: I get to teach reading and math, plus world history & geography; while he gets science, sibika at kultura, and filipino. We haven’t finalized our daily schedule just yet, but we’ll be limiting study time to 2 subjects per day, maximum of 1 hour each subject. Although I doubt if we could stick to a single topic for that long.

I am also planning on a cooking class, on free weekends only, and maybe have Ari master 1 recipe a month. I have also arranged for us to volunteer at the CDL children’s library, one day each week, which means free library use and plenty of book choices for the kids, and lessons away from home just to add variety to our study routine.

Sounds good so far? 

I am really itching to get down and put together a lesson plan, at least for the first month of bahaySKUL, just so I could ensure that all the materials (books, supplies, worksheets) that we need will be ready when we need them. The thing is, we still haven’t gotten hold of our curriculum and the set of modules that are supposed to go with it. This is really causing me a lot of undue stress lately. I am especially not comfortable with the idea that our child’s education rests upon our shoulders and that right now we are still totally clueless about how to do it, where to start.

This is precisely the reason why we decided to affiliate. So we could shrug off some the early pains of homeschooling because we have an established institution to guide us along. But that is not what’s happening. TLP’s way of administering things simply sucks. I come into their office with lots of questions (I’m clueless, remember) and leave with an even bigger question mark than when I had came in. Hopefully today, after the TLP Homeschool Orientation, I will have most of these questions answered. We are also very eager to meet other homeschooling families and to start to be part of an active homeschooling community here in Los Banos. 

Moving along, as we don’t have yet our curriculum, we will be using first grade LifePACS by the way, I decided to first list down the skills we want to build in Ari and how we plan to integrate teaching these skills alongside formal lessons.

First is better retention. We are inspired by the Charlotte Mason method of narration and we will be exploring on this further as we go along with homeschooling. For this purpose, we have assigned Fridays as ‘review day’ and we would be employing various forms of narration to further Ari’s mastery of concepts learned over the week. We envision our weekly review to come in 2 formats: first is a creative format, using lego blocks or clay dioramas, or writing/reciting a story; second is a paper-and-pencil test, because we feel we also need to train Ari to have good test-taking skills.

Second is life skills. We now ask Ari to set the table. Turo will teach him to plant from seed during their science and nature classes. I will teach him to cook. And maybe later when he’s taller he could also wash the dishes (and cookware).

Third is the love for reading. All this time I had been spending a lot of money on books. Uri loves books even if can’t read yet. Ari picks up a book occasionally, reads it end to end, and that’s it. He’s not the type to read a book over and over. So, thank God for ebooks. We are currently hooked on the Project X Series over at Oxford Owl. Ari loves them. He’s nearly finished all titles in the series, and I’m still on a hunt for the next series he’ll be hooked on. We make it a point to read together 1 ebook a day. When bahaySKUL days officially start, we will be keeping tab of all the titles we read, as well as the vocabulary words we encounter with each story. These would form part of Ari’s recitation grade to be submitted to TLP.

Fourth is handwriting. I’ve read a lot of studies linking handwriting and motor skills practice to better cognitive abilities. With this, copywork will be a major and recurring activity in our bahaySKUL for all subjects. I’m also looking to purchase the Draw-Write-Now series to make handwriting practice even more fun. The books contain step-by-step drawing instructions followed by short descriptions of the picture to copied on a separate worksheet. I am planning to learn some art skills myself with these books.

* * *

I guess I can say that these could be our bahaySKUL goals for this school year. While we still don’t have specific activities planned for the coming school days, at least we’ve chosen some of our guideposts for teaching our kids, and learning alongside them. This is going to be another full year for us. But I am hopeful that if we take it a step at at time, we’ll find ourselves breezing through a year of bahaySKUL, no sweat! 

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