Big Picture School Planning

In my homeschool, we practice a relaxed classical approach. Practically, this means that we are a hybrid of Charlotte Mason and Classical philosophies. Add to that mix that we are Catholic. When I consider my homeschool planning, I put the highest priority on holy mass and the sacraments, nature study, the reading of good and great books, and the acquisition of Latin. As a gardener, I think of it this way: if the soil is tilled with sacrament, planted with great ideas from living books, watered with the wonder and awe of nature study, and fertilized with Latin, I can safely entrust the Holy Spirit to produce good plants with good fruit. Like any good gardener, I also know that weeding must done, and other labor which allows the plants to thrive. So, chores, habit tending, and work are also prominent features in our course of study.

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Confession: I watch every video Jen Mackintosh at Wildflowers and Marbles posts. Many times. Her Instagram feed and the videos on her website are full of much truth, goodness, and beauty. Looking into her world helps me to find great inspiration for my world. Many of my best ideas are shamelessly stolen from her and adjusted for my setting. When I am feeling confused, discouraged, or anxious, I go back to her feed and let the beauty lead me out of my disease and back into a place of possibility.

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On Jen’s website, she freely shares her book lists and general course of study for each grade. I printed all of her resources and keep them in a tabbed binder. When I am discerning a transition or season of our school year, I consider her plans. I look at which books she is using, how many pages she is assigning, how many and what kind of narrations she requires. I do not copy her lesson plans into my plan, but I do look through her choices and adopt those that I think will work for us. Because her plans are informed by a great understanding of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, her assignments are selected from stellar book lists like the Ambleside Online and John Senior recommendations. She has two decades of experience, and I have found her plans to be a great starting place for me. As I have met with my friends, I have encouraged them to also shop from her recommendations.

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In my Erin Condren Teacher Planner, there is a two-page spread with 12 boxes. I have chosen to use it as my subject overview map. Assigning a subject to each box, I list the resources I intend to use for this year. To do this, I considered Jen’s plans, shopped my selves, talked with my husband about what we think each child needs, and included resources that I have seen from other homeschoolers that I want to use. This page will help diminish my decision fatigue. Having it in place, I know what to reach for when making lesson plans.

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