Once you have the preliminaries in place, you can begin planning the individual months.
I suggest you get started with these articles first, if you haven’t already:
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 – Mapping out the year
Getting started with monthly homeschool planning
You will need a blank monthly template (see resources below). Alternatively, divide two notebook pages into 6 boxes, or one page with 12 boxes. You want to have a blank space for monthly brainstorming.
You won’t be writing anything in stone here, so please be flexible when using this as an outline. I’ve changed my mind several times already – and there is leeway to adjust again.
How to break-up the monthly learning
The most obvious way to assign learning to each month is by theme. In working with the seasons and their respective holidays this is the simplest way to begin. In fact, I encourage it. You might choose to make all of September – apple month, all of October – Halloween month, all of December – Christmas month, and so on.
By story/ book:
You may decide that you’d like to select a book / novel and work around that for the entire month. There are tons of activities you can find to keep you going all month long based on a story of choice.
By therapeutic recommendations:
When you have a disabled child, you have a ton of recommendations by therapists/ specialists for helping your child progress in one area or another. If you’ve included/ combined some of the therapeutic suggestions in your child’s curriculum (part 5), then, you have a lot to go by when planning for homeschooling.
In our case, we have SLP, OT, PT, as well as recommendations from our early childhood interventionist. Integrating the suggestions of specialists into our homeschool day is only logical for us. For one, it’s a time saver. I don’t need to feel pressured to do PT activities at the end of a long day. Secondly, by having my son practice certain skills daily or several times per week, I help to reinforce those skills.
If you choose to plan your year by allotting a few skills per month, you are not only making your planning easier, you’re also making the outcome more likely to occur!
Mapping out the months
As a teacher, I can’t help but combine themes with books and therapeutic elements into our days. It is only difficult to do if I don’t map it out for myself.
How do I do it?
First off, in following the Waldorf method, I’m going to use fairy tales as a starting point to my son’s learning each month. Keeping in mind the seasons and holidays, I’ve selected books/ stories that would best suit each month.
But I went one step further as a mother of a disabled child.
When I looked at our provincial preschool educational program, I was able to make links to my son’s specialists’ recommendations. For instance, one standard/ competency in the preschool curriculum is “to affirm his/her personality”. One of the features of that competency is “to show autonomy”. Well, you can bet that I’m going to combine the OT’s recommendations for feeding himself in that curriculum goal. This is a perfect example of modifying the curriculum. While most preschool students would be learning to tie their shoe laces, my son’s curriculum will be modified to reflect his needs – in this case, learning to feed himself.
Now, if I were to try to do everything each specialist recommends on a daily basis, I would fall flat on my face on day one. That’s why I recommend spreading out the skills throughout the year – breaking them down for each month.
These are the broader goals you need to keep in mind when planning:
- OT’s suggestions
- PT’s suggestions
- SLP’s suggestions
- Psychologist’s suggestions
- Early interventionist’s suggestions
- Other specialists’ recommendations based on their latest evaluation
- Your personal goals for your child
- The province/ state curriculum/program (part 4)
Here are some possible specifics for you when planning the year (and breaking it down by month):
- OT: feeding, pre-writing, writing, meal preparation, dressing self, etc.
- PT: sitting up, walking, climbing, running, jumping, etc.
- SLP: receptive language, expressive language, signing, using AAC, PECs, etc.
- Psychology: behavioral, emotional, etc.
- Personal goals: playing independently, enjoying and participating in a craft/ art activity
Again, these are just idea triggers to get you started. Always check your most recent evaluations for specifics for your child.
In my son’s case, we want to help build his receptive language to include the names of body parts, the 5 senses, and emotions. For some of them, I’ll include ALS signs. Of course, we’ll keep building nouns and verbs, but since these other concepts are somewhat more abstract for him, I’m going to spread those concepts throughout the year and use the months/ seasons as a guide.
For instance, when teaching the sense of taste, I will do that in the autumn when we explore different spices in our food and drinks. I can talk about tasting cinnamon and ginger in this season more than in any other season.
I’ve plotted “sense of taste” in the month of September. Just because I’m putting an emphasis on taste in September doesn’t mean I won’t refer to it throughout the year. It’s just that it’s a perfect time of year to introduce it and keep reinforcing it throughout the season, and then throughout the year I can circle back to it.
I did the same with parts of the body and emotions. I tried as much as possible to have them fit into the most appropriate month. Mapping things out in this way lets me be ahead of the game so that I can keep on the look-out for related activities or materials long before I have to implement them.
Take time with this step. Peruse Pinterest for inspiration, and see what other teachers do at this time of year. Then, combine those ideas with your therapeutic recommendations and, voila! You’ve mapped out the months!
Monthly calendar template – can be edited, available from July to June, August to July or September to August, free download
Planning and Organizing – my Pinterest board with an ever-growing list of ideas and templates
This step in the planning process might take the longest because you are gathering information from different sources and making it your own. If you need some help sorting through this, I am available for individualized consultations.