I have three beautiful children. This is actually the first year that I am going to be teaching all three of them formally (if that doesn’t pack a bittersweet punch I don’t know what does!) This June I did a soft start and it was eye opening. Their unique giftings, personalities and learning styles became apparent very quickly. It dawned on me that each child was going to need totally different lessons, focus and time.
As, I started thinking about it I realized that the way I plan a lesson is very dependent on the end product of education that I need to achieve. With that goal in mind, I have embraced three different visual styles of planning. Block Grid, Graphic Organizer, and Rhythm Lesson Plan 😉
I-man age 7. I am using a boxed curriculum for I-man this year. He loves to go through the day and check off his items. He needs structure and predictability.
The block grid lesson plan is the right tool for the job. I made a template that includes all of the subjects that we cover each week and I just plug in the content from week to week. From a totally selfish point of view lesson planning for him is quite easy. When I do want to add in some enrichment activities I can do it quite easily because everything is laid out so precisely. It is the straight up classic lesson plan and it is fantastic for him.
Using a block grid helps me get into the mindset of how his brain works. It is organized. It is precise. We do math, we read, we do a craft and we read the Bible. It is predictable. It is comforting. It is the block grid!
Super S age 8 (almost 9) I foolishly started the summer planning his day with a block grid too. It was a disaster. I snapped the grid into his three ring binder and I saw the join drain out of his eyes. We actually took the grid and ripped it up by noon and I went back to the graphic organizer style of planning I have been using for him.
In all honesty, the information that I include in the graphic organizer isn’t all that different from the block grid. It is less detailed because that is what I give to S. You can put the same information on the graphic organizer that is on the block grid, but it is more interesting to look at and it gives me the opportunity to link content in a more creative way. His day doesn’t feel like a never ending checklist. Instead it is a journey and he gets to control where his day goes.
Wait a Minute!
I sense a question brewing. Could I simply plan using a grid then present it to him using a graphic organizer? The simple answer is probably. But when I enter brain dump mode and take big blank pieces of paper and just go for it I really connect to S’s learning style. When I plan his lessons using the graphic organizer my lesson planning mimics his learning style and it really helps me tap into what makes Super S tick.
As a total side note: If you are struggling with lesson planning it is a great way to clear out blocks and get the creative juices flowing!
Sweet P (age 5) We are using a rhythm schedule. What is a rhythm schedule?
Rhythm planning comes from Waldorf Educational tradition.
At this stage of her life, there are two forces pulling at P’s inner person. Concentration and Expansion.
It is like breathing in (concentration) and breathing out (expansion).
Concentration is the intake of information. That can be anything from giving a hug, to having a conversation, to school work. These times concentration are hard work and they can only be accomplished in very short bursts of attention. I try to stick to the child’s age plus 1 minute. But I think that it is important to remember that this goal of sustained attention is new. And it is very possible that we will need to work up to the age+1 ideal.
Concentration is followed by Expansion or breathing out, which is free play, free running or eating. It is a release!
At this stage of development there aren’t beautifully crafted lesson plans and learning times where we sit and accomplish our whole day in one fell swoop. Our days feel very chaotic at times. Like we are in constant transition. And this style of learning can be difficult to fit in with my boys who can sustain longer periods of concentration but still need a lot of one on one time and attention.
It is so imperfect. And so important for me to take a breath. Trust that this is a season and that God is directing our days in all the crazy minutia. That this is a gift. A beautiful chaotic gift. One that won’t be the same next year!
So that is it! Three different planning styles for three very different kiddos! What do your lesson plans look like? How do you plan? Let me know! Comment below!