I Garden the Way I Homeschool & I Homeschool the Way I Garden
Parallels between homeschooling and gardening
Twenty-three years of experience has taught me to look ahead and write the homeschool lesson plan for the coming year in the spring. I realize it is the time of year when the current lesson plan goals are beening met. More or less. At the same time, this is the season to begin planning my garden. Over the years I have unearthed parallels between homeschooling and gardening.
Why do I want a garden, is the first of several questions I answer before drawing a plan? Then I go to the pantry to determine what needs replenishing? Which leads to, what do I need to grow? Notes left in my gardening journal tell me which plants thrived and those that did poorly. But why? I also wonder if I should attempt a new gardening technique or idea that works for another gardener? The big question? How can I lighten the work load with-out compromising production? Finally, since I enjoy the simple quiet beauty of the garden, I scan seed catalogs searching for the perfect plant to visually enliven individual rows. Once my questions have satisfactory answers, it is time to prayerfully plan my garden for spring planting.
A look at homeschooling
Before I begin, I remind myself why we homeschool our children? More questions follow. I compare where we are in our current plan, with the calendar date, to see how much we have achieved and determine a realistic stopping point for this year. Should John pick up where he leaves off come fall? Or start with something fresh and more challenging? Is he thriving or bored and lacking ambition? Should I try a different curriculum or homeschool teaching method? I scan curriculum catalogs searching for the perfect book, unit study or kit which will brighten his studies and the simple quiet beauty of learning at home. The big question? How can I lighten my family’s schedule with-out compromising each child’s love of learning, curiosity or imagination? I take the answers, and prayerfully plan the homeschooling lesson plan for next year.
Why plan so early
Where I live, in the Inland Northwest, our growing season tends to be short. Therefore, if I wait until the last danger of frost passes, before starting seeds, the plants don’t reach their full potential. Oh, I’ll get some produce. Perhaps ten to fifteen tomatoes per plant instead of thirty of more. The same is true for planning the coming homeschool year. We all feel rushed, discombobulated and grasping for anything academic to fill the day if I attempt to begin the school year without a lesson plan to follow. The children and myself just aren’t productive. Controlled panic topped with frustration is an accurate description.
Prayer comes first … then the plan
I believe with all my heart and soul that God has my best interests in mind. Therefore, I pray. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6,7) Homeschooling definitely falls under the everything category. The presence of peace while I teach the children, indicates to me that we are on the right track. I confess, my heart and mind need protection, guarded, from my own anxieties. And this is not through my own strength, but Jesus’. Prayer coupled with thanksgiving makes a happy and joy filled heart, which is passed on to those around me. I encourage you to make your requests known to God.
Give yourself a break … An easy way to plan
In order to avoid self-imposed panic, I begin planning in the spring. Homeschooling is not intended to be complicated. If it becomes complicated, it is because I made it complicated. I began thinking about next year’s lesson plan when John, a sixth grader, announced he completed his science book at the end of February.
With a sharpened black Ticonderoga pencil, John’s name is written at the top of a piece of notebook paper. School year and grade underneath. Dropping down a few lines, I list all of the possible subjects he could study as a seventh grader. Science is at the top. Scanning our book shelves, two possibilities are found. John chooses the one that interests him. I add the book’s title under the science heading along with another book that complements the topic.
Include subjects that are carrying over to the next school year. Write it under the appropriate heading with the book title and page number.
A reading list completes the plan. Often this makes up the bulk of the lesson plan.
At the bottom of the page, a reminder is written in bold ink reminding me to order annual test materials.
Approximately forty-five minutes later, depending on the number of interruptions, the lesson plan is finished. As my husband would say, “Good enough, you’re not building a piano.”
When the plan is complete, I ask John what he would like to include. This gives him part ownership in his education and it gives me insight into his interests. Homeschooling becomes something he wants to do, rather than another one of his Mom’s ideas. Then I leave the plan in a drawer. During the busyness of summer, I may add or delete subjects as reality sets in and I adjust my expectations.
You got this
I know you are tired, so am I, so before you put away the broken crayons, books, binders full of completed school work, look ahead, take inventory so you can peacefully and calmly with confidence begin another school year. And remember your …