Part 1 – Outlining your beliefs
Part 2 – Finding your child’s dominant intelligence(s) and learning style
Part 3 – Choosing an educational style
Part 4 – Locating the curriculum/ program & finding resourses
Part 5 – Modifying/ adapting the curriculum
Part 6 – Planning the year
Part 7 – Mapping out the months
Part 8 – Planning the Week
In Part 8, you planned the week by actually planning the activities daily. You’ve finally arrived at the point where you can plan what your individual homeschool days will look like.
Outline a Daily Rhythm
As a family, you have already established some kind of routine – whether you did it intentionally or not. You probably have a regular wake-up time, a general time when you eat lunch, and a time when you have dinner. In between, you’ve either filled it in with chores, outings, or perhaps, play-based activities.
For homeschooling, become aware of what you’ve already been doing and replace the activities/ outings so that they are now more academic-related. Don’t try to restructure your already set-in rhythm unless it was chaotic. Your child with special needs has already internalized the patterns of the day, and by changing things up for homeschooling purposes, you’d only be asking for trouble.
Here’s how to keep it simple:
I started brainstorming our daily rhythm by blocking in the meals. For my son, meals are sacred and cannot be skipped or delayed. He still cannot fully communicate when he wants a snack or that he’s getting hungry for lunch. Since birth, I’ve been in-tune with his desire to eat, and I make sure, in order to avoid meltdowns, that I have the snacks and meals ready at set times in the day.
Your child might not be so demanding with feeding schedules. Yet, I highly recommend that you use your mealtimes as anchors to planning your homeschool day.
While you may not have a set time when your child eats breakfast, you know that it does happen sometime in the morning. The same for lunch and dinner. They usually happen somewhere between midday and early evening, respectively.
Begin by blocking in those meals in your Homeschool Reflections journal.
Then, decide, based on the age and developmental level of your child, how many activities you can manage to fit in between those meals. As you can see from my brainstorm above, I have included an activity before breakfast. This doesn’t always happen since wake-up times are unpredictable with my son. However, I have that penciled-in for those days where the wake-up is earlier. On those days, we attempt 4 activities.
I have 2 activities blocked somewhere between breakfast and lunch, and one activity between lunch and dinner.
- How many formal activities can my child handle in one day? (2, 3, 4 or more? – it all depends on his age and developmental level)
What types of activities to include in each block of time
Both my son and I function better in the morning hours, so I like to have the bulk of the “schooling” done in the morning while leaving the afternoon activities informal. However, there are some activities that lend themselves better to certain times of day.
Below, I share with you some suggestions for activities within each block of time. Please note that you should not do all of these activities in a block – or even in one day. These are simply ideas you can select from.
For a child with special needs, I suggest varying the activities from fine motor to gross motor; from sitting/ floor play to standing; from a quiet activity to a more active one. The Waldorf approach refers to this as in-breath and out-breath. Every time you plan an energetic activity, it should be followed by a calming one in order to bring inner-balance to your child.
- storytelling or reading
- morning songs and music (even older kids enjoy listening to music and singing along)
I try to keep this time of day mellow. We’re only just getting started and we’re welcoming the day in a gentle way. We often do the storytelling in bed, and the songs/ music happen while I’m preparing breakfast.
- dress-up, brushing teeth, combing hair (daily self-care)
- neighbourhood walk (where some of the nature/ science activities can happen)
- storytelling, reading or puppetry
- gross motor activities
- fine motor activities
- academics (math, ELA, art, science, music, etc.)
- educational videos (I only allow educational tv or videos)
There is usually a snack in this period, which includes self-feeding practice. As I prepare lunch, I need to have my son in a safe place, and that’s when I resort to the television/ videos. I play an educational video for about ½ hour as I get the lunch ready. He enjoys this as it’s a little down-time for him as well.
- finishing up a morning activity (academic or other)
- storytelling, reading or puppetry
- rest (my son doesn’t really nap anymore, but he has to be on his bed for about 45 minutes to 1 hour – he enjoys resting his bones and, sometimes, he actually falls asleep!)
Using this general guideline for our daily rhythm makes it easier for me to plan what we’ll do each day. But, I take this one step further.
Since our days are Waldorf-inspired, I have designated a day each week where we work on one particular element: painting, modelling, crafting/ handwork, or baking.
In the image above, you can see that I’ve written each activity on a sticky-note paper, with the addition of “outing” on a fifth one. The Waldorf approach suggests selecting the same day each week for these activities. For instance, baking always on Monday, painting always on Tuesday, etc. This is done to help build an internal rhythm of the days of the week for children who are not developmentally ready to understand a calendar.
While this is what I aim to do for the most part with my son who is not developmentally ready to understand how a calendar works, I know that it’s not going to be realistic for us. We sometimes have appointments and visitors. This is why I wrote the activities down on a sticky-note paper – it can now easily be moved around on a weekly basis.
What I do is aim to have the activities set for specific days each week, but when it’s not possible, I may switch two (or more) around. What’s important for me is that my son get exposure to each of these activities on a weekly basis. It also makes planning easier. When I know that we’re to paint today, I can look at my brainstorm for monthly activities and select a painting activity that I want to attempt, and my planning is done in seconds.
Putting it all together
Parts 6 to 9 include all of the details you need for planning the year, the months, the week and each day.
I’d like to show you how I put all of this into one neat place so that you don’t find yourself with note sheets and calendars all over your house.
I’ve never found a planner that works for me 100%. But, I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel either. So, I’ve taken bits and pieces all over the place and assembled it to make my own planner – designed specifically for our needs. I’ve included all of the links to these free printables in the resources so that you can put one like this together yourself. However, I recommend personalizing your planner in a way that best suits your family’s needs. Do a little research. There are plenty of free online printables available.
The beauty of putting together a planner with book rings is that you can add and remove papers as you wish, but it’s much more portable than a 3-ring binder.
And, there you have it! You’re all set for easy homeschool planning so that you can give your child the full attention he needs. The rest of this series includes tips for finding community resources, assessments/ evaluations and finally, parental reflections.
My homeschool planner cover page – free for you to download and use
Blank monthly calendar – this link takes you to a blog planner, but you’ll see the link to the “Calendar pages blank” if you scroll down – free
Yearly and monthly school calendars – free and free
My weekly planner – download this free
Weekly template for back cover of planner – you’ll need to scroll down on this link to find it – free
Planning & Organizing Pinterest board – my ever-growing Pinterest board contains more planner sheets
If you’d like some help planning your for homeschooling, I offer individual consultations. I’d love to be of service to you.