Friday, August 26, 2016

A Year of (Homeschool) Planners

Here's the thing; I am not a big homeschool planner, I'll just say that right up front. I find rigid schedules a source of stress (what will I do when we inevitably fall behind? what if something that I've meticulously planned for does not go at the pace I've anticipated?) but I do like to have a rhythm to lean on, a spine to return to whenever we are able.

My plan though is fluid, flexible and I know up front, that the plan I make at the beginning of the year will not be the same as the plans I am making towards the end of the school year. And that is a-okay by me!

I start out by creating an overview of our year; on this I include birthdays, festivals and holidays, and some basic items that we want to look at each quarter, such as Artist Study, Composer Study and Shakespeare. (I use a basic composition book as my homeschool planner each year, which gives me so much freedom! I can create just the right planner for our needs, and can change it as and when our needs change. Perfect!)

I then create a monthly calendar, with the weeks numbered; this makes it easier for me to see, at a glance, how our curricula aligns with the month. Along the right hand edge I have a separate column for notes; here I include the basics we'll be covering, one off items and more sporadic items I want to make sure we get to.

Next is a two page spread for each week. I typically fill in the details for this each weekend for the week to come; on the left hand page I include our daily reading and items to cover, weekly reading items, and then specific chapters or lessons to do. And on the right hand page I make note of all the books we read. And yes! - I really do mean all the books. I often find myself returning to my old homeschool planners to look up books that we particularly enjoyed, to read again for a particular season or for my two younger children, Buttercup and Seal Pup.

And finally, I have a daily rhythm. This one aspect could be my biggest take away from the Waldorf method; to have a daily rhythm to lean on, rather than a schedule. My children find it very reassuring to know what is coming up next; to have a rhythm of our days. We don't follow this religiously, but like my other schedules, it is something for us to lean on.

I try to alternate busy periods with times of rest or unstructured time. We go for a walk most days, and have plenty of time for outings and fieldtrips. Also, we try really hard to finish off all our homeschool work by lunch time, to give ourselves the afternoons 'off' (although we all know that learning happens just as much, if not more, in those afternoons 'off' as it does during official homeschool time!)

And now you are probably wondering what we fill those days with! And how we fit it all in?! But enough for today; I'll share those details in another post or two!

Do you homeschool? What does your planner look like? 
Leave a comment and let me know; I'd love to hear from you 
Or leave a link back to your own blog post!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Coming Home

{I think, hope, that you will excuse this somewhat stream of conscious style post. 
I decided that raw and honest is the way to go here, rather than polished and reserved.
 I'll fill in the gaps on upcoming posts, pinky promise!} 

It is always interesting to me to see the wax and wane of my writing this blog; the times when I feel drawn to sharing what is happening in my life, and when I do not.

It occurred to me this past few weeks that the periods when I am not writing, sharing and posting are usually because I am not living simply. My days have felt rushed, stress filled, and to be frank, I would not feel authentic posting about living Simply, in the 'Burbs!

This past year has been one of those times. Although there has been so much good (deep, soul nourishing good!) there has also been some dark days, times of anxiety and chaos, both emotionally and within our schedule.

This is not to say that all is now perfect (news flash! Life is not and never will be, I believe, perfect), but I am certainly feeling that I am returning to a place of authenticity, to joy and a stillness that I haven't known for at least a year. It has, in short, felt like coming home.

Ironically, this shift was in large part nudged by a shift in our home education curriculum chooses. After a year or two of a more rigorous, albeit still unschooling-ish, approach, I recognized that my three young children would be best served by a somewhat dreamier, slower paced rhythm. and so, after a three year hiatus, we returned to a more Waldorf based curriculum. It has allowed me to reshape my children's days, and be more honest about what they need, and to let go a little of my own expectations.

That, alongside my own inner work (therapy! yoga! prayer! but more on that another day!) and the courage to be true to my own needs and my authentic self, have been massive game changers this year.

It feels so good to be back. Living our days with a slower pace, with more of an eye to my needs, and those of my family.

So good!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Celebrate ... MAGIC!

Hoping you are having a magical holiday season!

And if it isn't magical, I hope it isn't too terrible. 

And if it is terrible, I send you extra love!! <3

Our holiday season has been messy, busy, glorious and full. As life with a young family should be!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An Advent in Books

Can you believe that the Advent season is just around the corner?! I know, me either!

I love this season for the magic, the lights, the coziness of snuggling in with blankets and hot cocoa and the family traditions built around the holidays.

I am not such a fan of the consumerism, the rush to get things done, the pressure to create a perfect holiday or the endless to-do lists. So much not a fan.

For the past few years we have started a few simple traditions for our family, but one of my favorite is our Advent Books.

During the Advent period I fill our reading nook bookshelf up with our holiday books, many of which we have had for several years, and read one aloud at bed time. I don't do this every night, and it is not all brand new books, but cozy-ing up on the sofa to read, makes for a sweet and simple tradition. Sometimes we read by candle light with cocoa and (vegan! - these are amazing!) marshmallows, and sometimes we don't!

It's lovely! It doesn't add undue stress to our days (nothing kills a moment than having a frazzled mama!), it's not a budget breaker (I think I added four new-to-us books to our holiday stash this year for a grand total of $10, and even have a few library books that I'm adding to our shelves and returning after they've been read) and it's centered around one of our very favorite things to do - reading aloud!


Here are some of the books that will be included in our Advent collection this year:

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story, by Cynthia Rylant

The Christmas Day Kitten, by James Herriot

Morris' Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells

Winter Story (Brambly Hedge), by Jill Barklem

The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Jan Brett

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice, by Wendy Pfeffer

The Story of the Snow Children, by Sybille von Olfers (This one is a particular favorite; the story is delightful and the illustrations are magical!)

The Cowboy's Christmas, by Joan Walsh Anglund

The Legend of Old Befana, by Tomie dePaola

Winter, by Gerda Muller (Another absolute favorite, this is one of four part seasonal series. The illustrations are lush and detailed; my children talk about these books all year long).

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