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Guest Post: Block Scheduling for your Homeschool

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Welcome to our new Planning/Scheduling series! This month, I am going to be sharing some fabulous guest posts from other homeschool bloggers. The thing with planning is that what works for one family, may not be the best fit for the next. . . so I’ve sought out people who plan in all sorts of different ways to hopefully inspire you in your planning this year!

Up first is Sharon, from Lake Norman Prep. Sharon’s tag line for the blog is “Simple Days Making for an Exciting Adventure” and I just love that positive outlook. So many wonderful things can come from keeping things simple, and it’s a lesson I think many of us need to learn. Sharon uses a lot of Waldorf materials and ideas, and has helpful posts on everything from Homeschooling Newbies, to letting Food be your Medicine (she’s a bit on the crunchy side too y’all! If you’re looking for healthy ideas- check it out!).

Anyways- I’m going to just hand over the post to her, and let her explain how she uses Waldorf style block scheduling in her homeschool!

Block Scheduling your homeschool!

Are you planning for next year?  Well, you are not alone.  I am working away on next year as well.  Overall, there are several different ways to plan your year out.  Personally, my family uses a block system, and below is my system of planning!

Goals

Prior to even looking at curriculum or block ideas, I decide on the goals that I want each child to accomplish.  Goals should be personal to each child.  Where does your child need to grow academically, emotionally, spiritually and physically?  I love that homeschooling allows me to look at the whole child and not just where he or she is academically.  I have three very different and unique children.  My youngest needs to wok on his emotional growth as much or more than his academic growth.  My middle child is in desperate need of some management when it comes to organizing and time management.  My oldest does not enjoy working on his own and prefers to sit with me as he does his work.  In the beginning of the school year, I review these goals with my children and revise them as necessary.  I also have each of the kids come up with at least one of their own goals for the year.

Second grade: 1) Read instructions independently 2) Reciprocity in discussions (he likes to take over the discussions) 3) Journal 4) Begin reading silently 5) Work independently for 30 minutes 6) Increase independence with communicating emotions and needs 7) Learn to use breathing techniques and meditation with minimal cuing when angry or frustrated.

Fourth grade): 1) Independent with writing a well-thought out and planned paragraph 2) Increase in critical thinking  3) Increase awareness of cause and effect 4) Time management skills 5) Begin vocabulary 6) Learn organization skills essential to learning and everyday tasks 7) Daily physical activity outside

Sixth grade): 1) Begin note taking with research 2) Increase independence with reading and activities 3) Time management skills with projects requiring several steps 4) Vocabulary 5) Independent with writing a well-planned 5 paragraph paper 6) Journaling 7) Daily stretching to prevent injury in outside activities

Blocks

I am inspired by Waldorf curriculums.  I like the approach of Waldorf and how the content seems to match with the developmental stage of the child.  There are multiple wonderful Waldorf homeschool curriculums out there.  Personally, I look at Waldorf Essentials, Christopherus and Oak Meadow.  I decide which blocks will fit with our family and how much time I think each block will take.  Are you wondering what exactly I am speaking about with the term blocks?  Using the curriculums above, I look at the main topics that will be covered through the year.  Then I decide which ones each child will focus on.  Thus, we only focus on one topic at a time.  One block may be devoted to history or  science.  During that block, we will read about that topic, create about the topic and write about the topic.  We immerse  ourselves in one area for a set period of time.  Then we move onto the next topic.

Finally, I break out the calendar!  Look at dates that you know you want to go on vacation, go to a specific festival or field trip, or just will need a break.  From our past experiences, I find that January and February are tough months for us.   I take this into consideration when I make my plan.  I also know that we go to a festival each October, and that I need a fun break in April.  I want my blocks to begin and end around these times.  At this point, I am still working on more specific plans.  I will plan out what I want to accomplish each week.  I do not plan my days because then I feel behind if I do not get to something (and sometimes life happens-or ice cram- or a play -or a hike…..) So what do I have so far?

Starting on August 18th

3 weeks-form drawing and geography (sixth-Europe, fourth- North Carolina, second-World)  Everyone will do this block together; however, they will each focus on a different area.

6 weeks- Sixth grade will focus on business math, while fourth grade will do the first man/animal block.  My second grader  will focus heroes and saints.

1 week off

9 weeks with one week off at Thanksgiving- Sixth grade will work on Rome.  Fourth grade will work on the Norse myths and fractions.  Second grade will focus on folk tales and time.

Holiday Break from December 19-January 5

6 weeks- group block on geology and biomes.

1 week off

6 weeks- Sixth grade will delve into the Medieval Times.  Fourth grade will complete the second man/animal block, and second will work on animal legends.

1 week off

5 weeks-group block on physics/finish up the year.

I believe that in a lot of Waldorf curriculums, the blocks will cover everything that the child needs.  However, I have three grades to teach so I utilize some outside help from other curriculums!  Most Waldorf curriculums also do math blocks to teach the main concepts.  I found that my kids need daily math so we tried Teaching Textbooks last year.  They loved it.  Teaching Textbooks also gives me more time to work with each child individually because they are independent with math.  Grammar is integrated in their writing, but they also will work through a grammar program two times a week.  Spelling requires me to work with the youngest individually and the older two together.  They will work on spelling two days a week as well-hopefully, on the off-days from grammar.   These are may plans on paper.  As we all know, the only sure thing is that everything changes.  I am sure the plan will evolve over the course of the year, and after 3 years of homeschooling, I am ok with that.

How are your plans coming along for upcoming year?​

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    • I’d say sort of- Sabbath Schooling is more for planning time off I think- you’d school 6 weeks, and then take one week off. Block planning is sort of like that, only you’d focus on one topic for the block, like economics, or basket weaving, and then when the block is over, move on to something else.
      Hopefully Sharon will weigh in!

    • I agree with Heather in saying sort of. 🙂 From what I know about Sabbath Schooling, it is more a plan for your time. You spend 6 weeks working and take one week off. This is continued throughout the year. With the blocks, I take a week off in between so that the kids get a breather and they know that a new block will begin after the break. (I do align our breaks with our vacations which works out well. I feel terrific leaving with everything finished and coming back to a fresh start!) I use block scheduling mainly to separate out the themes that we are studying.

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