I enjoy back-to-school planning. I feel like I have the whole year ahead of me to watch my kids learn and a chance to re-set anything that didn’t work well from the year before. I have found that planning for the Grammar level student is a simple task. When I prepare the year goes much more smoothly!
I make my planning session a date with myself.
Before the new school year begins, my husband takes the children for a Saturday afternoon while I head off to a favorite coffee shop. I bring all my planning supplies, Tapestry DE, school books that I want to look through, and my calendar. I order my favorite coffee and enjoy the quiet. If seasons are busy and I can’t get out, I simply make coffee at home, put on a movie for the children and I get down to it!
I begin by writing down my homeschool goals for the year.
If I don’t have my priorities clearly in mind, I will be more likely to attempt too much or get discouraged when it seems we are accomplishing too little. Because my husband and I spend time casually over the summer discussing our goals for each child, I have a pretty good idea in my head of what I hope for each of them over the school year. Writing it down helps solidify it and allows me to look back when I need a reminder. Here is one worksheet that might help you plan goals for your year.
I have one child in Upper Grammar, one in Lower Grammar, and one who is a preschooler. My Upper Grammar student is a strong reader and loves stories. She loves to read to learn, but still needs help going back to her books to research an answer. My Lower Grammar student is a kinesthetic learner. I am still reading aloud all her books to her, with my preschooler listening along with us.
At this stage in our schooling I have chosen to cover history, literature, some church history, and geography from the Tapestry subjects. I have also added writing for my Upper Grammar student this year.
For Lower Grammar, my goal is to introduce my daughter to a historical time period. I want her to appreciate the daily life of those living during that time and to understand the geography of the places we are studying in relation to the rest of the world. I want her to realize that these were real people and for her to enjoy the similarities and differences between her life and theirs. I delight when I see her eyes light up with interest about the size of the pyramids and how she listens eagerly to a story about a little boy living in ancient Egypt.
I want my Upper Grammar student to go on reading to learn and to improve her reading comprehension. I want to choose books that will fire her imagination and allow her to re-enact new stories. At the same time, my goal is that the things she reads make her think outside her own little world and ponder why people do what they do.
I have to remember that repetitive learning frees me to leave things out.
I can relax and enjoy the grammar-level learning process because Tapestry is a cyclical program. I will come back to these topics when they are older, so I don’t have to overload my schedule on our first pass through history.
After having considered my goals for each child, I determine which history and literature books at the Upper Grammar level to include, and which I plan to skip. I take into account my Upper Grammar daughter’s interests, or if I think a specific book will overwhelm her. For instance, because of my daughter’s love for princesses, last year I replaced a pioneer boy literature selection with the Lower Grammar literature choice of a story of Rapunzel. She was thrilled with that decision!
After choosing books, I highlight the assignments in Planning Aids and print out whichever literature worksheets go with the books I have chosen for the unit.
Because I will read aloud to my Lower Grammar student I know I will get a good understanding of the things my students are learning without having to do much extra reading. I will also be positioned to engage with my children as they share exciting tidbits that are brand-new to them!
Now that I am adding writing with my Upper Grammar student, I also look through those assignments. During my coffee date I looked through the whole year of writing and realized that at her fourth grade level she is simply working on good paragraph construction for the whole year. Knowing that, I decided that if I didn’t think a writing prompt on a particular week would spark her interest, I could look at the assignments one level up and one level down from her grade without losing anything she should be learning.
For geography I keep my children’s work very simple. We look at the places listed in that week’s geography on a globe and in an atlas so that they start to understand where things were happening in the world. I have the MAPpacks so I don’t have to print up any maps and I give my girls a fun “drawing” project on the maps. They color, trace, paint, or outline their map which is sufficient right now for them to learn basic landmarks.
I have been surprised how simple Tapestry planning can be. Once I know my goals and desires, the planning naturally flows from that. Adding in the coffee date definitely adds to the fun of school planning! And I love to see how my children are getting a wonderful, rich learning experience because I am prepared at the beginning of their year.