Planning To Diverge – How To Combine Structure With Flexibility

graduation kiss from my kids

Planning a homeschool structure can be intimidating.  Here’s how I plan, and also plan to diverge from my plan.

When my homeschooling journey began 6 years ago I felt terrified  nervous.  I had a degree in education and lots of experience teaching little kids.  I definitely had ideas about how it should be done.  I had my husband’s support.  I knew in my heart of hearts it was the right thing for us.  All these things couldn’t totally put me at ease though.  It felt like an enormous burden to say to the world that I would be the one solely responsible for my children’s education – no one to blame if they failed, or if I forgot to teach them something, or if they absolutely hated it.  Scary.

In the end, what brought me peace was having a plan.  There are a lot of people who throw caution to the wind and say “we’re learning about whatever we’re learning today!”  That simply isn’t my style.  I’m a list-maker, a chart addict, organized to a fault.  Someone who came over for a dinner party once went around my home taking pictures of my chore charts and checklists.  Yeah, the throw caution to the wind style would never have set well with me.

Liz is concentrating

Does that mean I don’t allow choice for my kids?  Am I taking away their “love of learning” because of my minor OCD?   Not one bit I say.  On the contrary, it has made us ALL sit comfortably in our little schoolroom.  I needed to combine just enough organization with just enough flexibility.  I couldn’t find any curriculum that felt just right for my style.  That’s why I made one.  Well, I should say WE made one.

Layers of Learning Authors

My big sis, Michelle, and I decided to get together to make Layers of Learning.  We started this blog to share what we’re learning about, and also started writing down our own self-made curriculum.  It’s become our baby.  We have an organized curriculum with plenty of room for flexibility and choice, perfectly suited to people like us who need a plan, but don’t want to be absolutely restricted to one.  Just like our exploration blog posts, each unit is full of hands-on fun and additional layers, things that are related to the topics we’re studying in some way, but are chosen based on whatever strikes our fancy at the moment.  The units are also totally time-flexible.  We could spend a day, a week, a month, or more on one; it all depends on what we want.  And I still have the peace of mind of knowing I have the big picture in place: MY PLAN.  Phew!  Can’t let go of that!

Tyler reading his first book

I also plan out our year each summer in my planner.  I write out my ideas and goals, but I don’t write the dates in.  It is a week-by-week plan.  I use lots of sticky notes that can be moved from week to week.  I print out cool pins from pinterest and stick them to the planner to remind me to try them out.  I also write notes of encouragement to myself and reminders about my goals and the big picture of why I homeschool in the first place.  As we complete things I highlight them with the highlighter.  It doesn’t feel like a checklist, just a framework.  I am not limited or constrained by what I plan, but rather, inspired.

Do you set goals and have plans as you teach?  Do you just go with the flow?  What’s your style?

Layers of Learning has helped me with this flexible framework.  I’ve watched my kids blossom with a little structure, plenty of flexibility, and lots of fun projects.  We’re pretty sure you’ll love our units as much as we do.  They are like our posts on steroids- so much to learn about and do on all kinds of topics under the sun!  And so many fun projects to make the learning go down like a spoonful of sugar.   Check out the catalog page to see what’s available.


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