The above link is another good article on relaxed homeschooling and how it differs from unschooling. For the next month, I am going to endeavor to post every day on the topic of relaxed homeschooling (R.H.) in my home, hoping that by being accountable to my readers, I will accomplish some of the goals I am setting for myself! It may seem counterintuitive, but structure, order, and organization are crucial to homeschooling in a relaxed manner. To this end, I have already made a change.
I have a teacher's lesson plan book for planning out each week, with the following categories at the top:
Language Arts; Reading/Spelling; Literature/Poetry; Calendar/Seasons; History/Culture; Fine Arts/Movement; Math/Practical Life; Natural Science/Geography. Typically I make my plan day by day, so I can base what I am focusing on each day on the previous day's activities. For example, if I notice when Beezy is reading that she is having trouble distinguishing between letter "d" and letter "b", the next day I might do a three period lesson (Montessori Method) using shaving cream to focus on those letters and words that contain them.
Today I decided to try something new. It is Sunday, and I have the entire week planned out so that tomorrow after co-op we can do what is on the schedule, and each day I can immediately proceed with the lesson plans without having to stop and figure out what to do next. I have most of the boxes filled in under each category, leaving a few empty for spontaneous activities. The key to being relaxed is that the schedule is not written in stone. It can be modified as needed. We may do more or less than planned each day. At the end of the week I will evaluate whether I have planned too much, not enough, or just about the right amount of work.
Mary Hood's article referred often to having a flow to the day, regular routines and ways of doing things. We begin our homeschooling day with a Melissa and Doug magnetic calendar. We sing a song called "Days of the Week" and fill in the number for each day, reviewing the date, including the name of the day, the month, the year, and the season. There are magnets to mark special things about the day, such as a holiday, a party, or a soccer game.
What I want to do is keep the formal learning, or "school" time, to no more than 2 hours each day over the next month. I want to begin a nature journal and spend more time outside, going hiking, drawing pictures about what we see, collecting leaves, etc... I also want to get my house in better order. For the next two weeks we will work on the things we can see, and for the two weeks after that we will work on the hidden places--the dreaded closets, drawers, and inside the refrigerator! By the end of a month the whole house will be clean and organized! And Beezy will be part of the whole process. Laundry is one of my worst tasks to keep up, so I will do a load each day, including folding the clothes and putting them away!
I'm going to begin by putting away some of our summer clothes and getting the cold weather clothes out and washed. It is not relaxing to not be able to easily get dressed in the morning! Then I can evaluate what we need and plan a trip to Goodwill and wherever else we can get the necessary items. I have a feeling Beezy is about to outgrow her shoes...
So stay tuned, and day by day I will alert you to my progress, or lack of it, or whatever interesting events unfold each day. After all, John Lennon was very wise when he sang, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."