We are about to begin Week 5 of Term 3 for the 2019-2020 School Year, and I have begun planning for 2020-2021. This is probably the earliest I have ever started this planning, and I am appreciating the extra time. Here are the essential steps I have worked out in my mind.
1. Pray for wisdom
As I have had the opportunity to attend Charlotte Mason events, to read widely both in vintage CM and modern publications, and to receive help from CM mentors and peers, I am reminded again and again of the sacredness of the education we present to our children and the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit at each step of the way. There is nowhere else to begin but in prayer.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
2. Choose a curriculum spine
There are many great curriculum options for Charlotte Mason educators. Over the years, I have had first-hand experience with three of them, and I plan to stick with one of these. I have come to realize, though, that I have always unintentionally used them in an eclectic fashion. I say unintentionally because most years I have purposefully set out to use the individual curriculum as-is and then made chaotic adjustments as we ran into snags.
For this coming year, I am admitting right from the beginning I will not use the curriculum as-is but rather as a spine from which I can make adaptions. To what degree will I make changes? Based on reflecting on this past year, I think I will be making a lot of changes. Hopefully, with early planning, the result with be a smoother, more efficient year.
3. Create schedules
I will start with a loose yearly schedule. We school for 36 weeks, with three, twelve-week terms. I will do my best to lay out the 36 weeks, planning for when I want to begin, end, and including foreseeable breaks.
Then I will create our weekly schedule. I will begin with our current schedule but carefully consider if I need to make changes. For this, I will begin by going back to the available information we have for the Parents’ Union School’s Time Tables and again think about the philosophies and methods which are the foundation of the Time Table. With these thoughts in hand, I will take into consideration the recommended schedule which corresponds to the chosen curriculum spine. Finally, I will make any changes necessary for my family based on our own unique situation.
4. Choose books
In choosing books, I hope to mostly use the curriculum spine and incorporate successful substitutions I have already made in the past. For any holes, I will look to other sources I have become familiar with over the years.
5. Ready the binders
The binder and lesson record system I have developed over time for our family has worked really well, so I do not plan to depart from it. I have my own binder with lesson record pages and any additional information needed for each subject. Each student also has his own binder with resources needed for each subject. The big change this year is my hopeful intention to have the binders ready several weeks before the school year is set to begin.
6. Submit my planning to the Lord
With all this, changes will still need to be made along the way. Sickness, family events, books that are not a good fit, and so many more unknowns or forgottens. So ending where I began, in prayer and reliance on the help of the Holy Spirit, is a good thing.
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.