I know there are some of you out there who aren't big on lesson planning and others who are addicted to it. However, even if you aren't big on structure, you can still benefit from incorporating some consistent lesson planning techniques into your homeschool.
Someone once said that 'failure to plan is planning to fail.' Homeschooling is no different. Even though we can march to the beat of our own drummer (and let's face it, that's why many of us enjoy it so much:-), we don't want to get so caught up in that march that we forget that there are certain life-tools that have proven their worth over time. Basic lesson planning - in essence, giving yourself a roadmap - is one such tool.
Still not convinced? Here is a quick list of lesson planning benefits that I have put together for you this fine morning:
You will waste less time finding things. To be organized or not to be organized, that is the question. Regardless of where you stand on the Julie Morgenstern scale, your kids need you to step up and make sure they have the tools they need to learn. Preparation means that you have those beakers for the chemistry experiment on hand when you need them, so you don't spend half the day driving around town to find them.
You won't be sidetracked with rabbit trails (unless you want to be!) We are homeschoolers, right? Do we not love rabbit trails? You know, the times when your son or daughter becomes so fascinated in a subject that it consumes the household? Those rabbit trails are some of the most beautiful moments of homeschooling life. But, it is important to remember that rabbit trails can lead nowhere if they aren't well-managed. They can also overwhelm you and draw you away from more foundational skills. Those foundations (you know... basic grammar, math, and spelling) may not be quite as exciting as a rabbit trail to the land of India, but they are still crucial to your homeschool.
You don't get lost (because you know where you are going.) How do we get anywhere unless we know where we are going? Homeschooling is at least 12 years of numerous subjects, not to mention life skills and character training. Having an outline of your journey helps you stay on track. It also helps you catch any molehills before they become mountains. Lesson planning keeps you going in the right direction. It also gives you the flexibility to take on the afore-mentioned rabbit trails with confidence, knowing everything else is still accounted for.
Your expectations are clear. Good lesson plans give you the opportunity to lay out expectations clearly. I am not talking about lengthy rubrics (unless you like them.) Instead, your lesson plans tell you and your kids what is expected of them. You experience peace in not having to develop and explain an assignment in between blow-drying your hair and your morning coffee (besides, I highly recommend the coffee first;-) It is also more fair to your children. They have expectations that are consistent and well-thought out. No flip-flopping for their mom! Nope, she knows what she expects, and she communicates that clearly. Kids need those boundaries so they can concentrate on the work at hand.
Self-Confidence. I can't tell you how many moms I talk to who are unbelievably unsure of themselves... especially when it comes to homeschooling. They feel unorganized, not worthy for the task, tired, or worn down from 'negotiating' with their kids. Planning your lessons is one small step toward building up that skin you need when you homeschool. Everyone isn't going to support you, we all know that. But, when you are down on yourself, you can sabotage your entire homeschool experience. Who then suffers? That's right, the kids! So, this week, try to work in a little planning. See if you don't feel just a bit stronger.
Planning can't solve all of your problems, create perfect kids, or eliminate world hunger. What it can do is take away some of the noise of life and allow you to focus on the very reasons you are doing this homeschool thing in the first place... your kids.
Thought of the day: When you prepare for life, you glide through a bit easier and a bit saner.