9.05.2011

Organizing the Unexpected

As any long-time reader here knows, I used My Father's World (MFW) for two years, had eagerly purchased the materials for our third, and felt certain until very recently that it was our "go-to curriculum for life." In fact, I was blind-sided in July when it became clear that MFW isn't a good fit for us right now...and that there are several reasons why it probably won't work for us again in the future.

But one thing I will always love about MFW is the way the teacher's manuals are organized - specifically, the grid system currently utilized in all but the kindergarten and first grade programs. In fact, when I determined to use MFW kindergarten with my daycare charges last year, I created my own grid system modeled on the MFW grids so I'd feel organized. And, when it became clear that I'd have to modify a lot of the other MFW program we used last year (Exploring Countries and Cultures - ECC), I made up a sort of grid system for my new plans.

Thus, after I decided to switch to other materials this year - and actually pull from multiple sources instead of going with any sort of all-in-one "boxed" curriculum - I knew I needed some way to organize everything. I first looked to the grids I'd devised for ECC and even made a mock-up using the new materials. But, especially because I also wanted to make room to include plans for my remaining daycare girl (with whom I'll be doing a type of K4/5 program) and even her infant sister, that became too cumbersome.

I've always kept weekly grid-style "educational logs" - where I've recorded work and activities actually accomplished each day (which, of course, differs from plans at least some of the time). And one day it dawned on me that I could try using that format for planning as well.

This is an example of the result (which you can easily see in its entirety by clicking the link or the "Fullscreen" icon - but click to open in a new window so you can come back here and finish reading!):
Lesson Plan Grid Sample

I was pretty amazed that I could fit in everything for my daughters and have space for Anna and Leah, too. I love that it's one page for a week (because of font "translation" issues with Scribd, it looks here to be two, but it's only one in my original document) and one-sided, thus providing a view of an entire week at a glance. And each space seems to be an appropriate size for adding necessary details.

You will surely notice that Tuesday doesn't have a lot of bookwork for my girls - because that will be our main "outing day." Specifically, they'll have piano lessons in the morning and (starting in October) ice skating in the afternoons. We'll do history before lunch, and each girl will do her math and reading during the other's piano lesson, and that will be all we can manage (unless we add in some "car school!"). But that's okay because it'll be a blessing to have only one such "crazy day" each week.

You may also note the presence of a few blank spaces for Anna and many for Leah on this example. In Anna's case, I'll fill in activities that my girls will do with her and her independent workbox activities as we go instead of trying to figure it all out ahead of time. And for Leah, she's just started with me and is only six months old...so I'm not yet entirely sure what (if anything) I'll be able to do with her beyond basic care each day. But I used activity categories to remind myself to try doing things in each area as often as possible. It'll be easy to add activities for her - on the computer or by hand - as I figure out what will work.

I created and printed weekly grids like this for the second half of August and all of September. I thought about planning further ahead, but decided to make sure this format works before putting more time into that. Plus, it's probably best to plan only a month or two in advance anyway...so it's easier to make adjustments when "life" inevitably sometimes takes precedence over bookwork.

One reason I loved MFW was because I'd never have to do my own organizing - it was all done in advance for me. I'm not organizationally challenged in the least - in fact, I might be overly organized at times. But it brought peace of mind knowing for two years that I could (if I followed the MFW plans as written) be "off the hook" in that one area of life.

However, I feel a different peace now. Sure, I have to (for my own sanity!) take the time to make my own grids now that I'm "out on my own" with curriculum. But that's actually okay. For one thing, I've realized again that organizing like this is fun for me (yes, I know that's sick!). And, also, I know I'm using materials that work for us now, and that makes the effort more than worth it.


Photo Credit: AJ Holmes (http://www.flickr.com/photos/28780038@N05/5321190575/)

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

With our olders I used a grid similar to the one you did and filled in assignments on a weekly basis. While I did not mind doing that it is one of the things I like about MFW. I did look at the Mystery of History curriculum. After listening to the sample readings I did order the CD's and book. As I like the Charlotte Mason style of learning more than the classical I did not order any of the tests and other worksheets. I liked that it had more Bible than MFW and thought we would be able to use the CD's as we drive to and from Daniel's appointments. I am excited about it and looking forward to its arrival.

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