Two Steps Ahead

I can’t help it, really I can’t. Once the end of our learning year seems to be in sight, I am already starting to think of what comes next. I don’t wait for the year to finish, I don’t wait for summer time; I start planning the minute the urge takes over. It looks like this year is no different. We haven’t even finished our third quarter and I am already two steps ahead.

While this method might not work for everyone, there are several logical reasons I do this.

By nature, I tend to be an overly organized person. I also tend to obsess over things and continually think over them until I’ve made myself crazy. When I consider what next year might bring, it helps to start writing things out and narrowing down those decisions. This gives me plenty of time to thoroughly inspect new ideas or activities and test out some concepts to see if they work practically. It also helps in being able to do some research, if some of our new interests require a financial investment or a great deal of time. Plus, once ideas are written down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting a truly awesome idea or keeping information in my head; it’s down on paper and I have plenty of time to get to it.

Bookshelf_Feb2010I also tend to write down thoughts on how our routine is currently working. Is our day running smoothly? Will our day need to be adjusted next year to accommodate our children’s needs or household schedules? What is working really well this year that I don’t want to change? What is not working and needs to be revamped? Which things need a complete replacement?

Planning ahead has also helped me in mapping out our children’s educational futures. By looking in the direction our children are headed, I have a better idea of how their learning should be planned out now. If my child wants to be a zoologist, I don’t want to wait until her junior year of high school to start bumping up her science courses; that is something we need to start looking at in junior high.

The only downside I see to being two steps ahead (or three, or four), is that I get anxious to start. I become excited over new projects, new school books, new routines, and new opportunities to learn. While I understand the current year needs to be completed, I’m chopping at the bit to move on.

Above all else, I am continually praying for our coming year. No matter what new changes (and there are going to be some awesome ones) come our way, I want to make sure we are following the path He has laid before us. If I do this on my own, I know I am going to fail. With Him, this next year looks to be an excellent one!

When do you begin looking at next year’s routine?


23 thoughts on “Two Steps Ahead

  1. Last year by this time I had already written out this year’s ENTIRE lesson plan. I laugh at myself now. though, because after Christmas we ditched the lesson plan I had worked so hard on. That’s okay, though. I’ve always enjoyed writing lesson plans.


    • (smiling) I don’t actually write a lesson plan. We just figure a general routine and go with it. What I like planning, I suppose, is the routine. Which field trips coincide with our lessons; are there fun activities we can do to reinforce this; those kinds of things.

      Thankfully, I’ve only had to revamp on occasion, never to ditch something completely. But, who knows what each new year will bring? 🙂


      • Yup, I’m definitely already into next year! I am researching all the curriculum choices so that when I get to the convention I can just pick up exactly what I’ve already decided on and spend a lot of time in the lectures.

        And I don’t do lesson plans either. Just open the book each day and go. But I like to plan related extra-curriculars, too . Sounds like we are similar teachers!


  2. I never stop. Never. I am always, always, always poking around and looking for ideas and resources for “later.” (Sometimes just extra things to review a concept or materials for a whole new subject we won’t get to until next year.) Glad to hear I’m not the only one who gets a little nutty with the planning ahead. 🙂


  3. I was very happy to find a schedule that really worked for us, early on. I never had to re-do our schedule, or re-plan a year. Oh, we tweaked it as we went, according to unexpected events such as the time the Crayola company set up a learning station in our Sam’s parking lot, unannounced. 🙂
    It was a very variable schedule, but all I ever had to do was tell the children what the day would be like, as in: like Park Day; or like Shopping Day; or like Wednesday…
    They knew exactly what to expect and how to plan their studies. Oh, and they planned their studies, not me, not after they could read. Except for typing, which we did in summer, one child at a time, just before 7th grade.
    I really did not have time for re-doing lesson plans and re-scheduling and changing curriculum, etc. We garden and do home canning and fight fires in the summer and run a school the rest of the time. We did have special learning activities in summers, such as keeping a log of everything we do, with illustrations. We also have a week of “Camp Grandmother” and usually make one long trip somewhere. But it all seems to fall into place just fine with only the skeleton schedule to funnel it down.
    So, it’s lots of “routines” recombined at will. 🙂


  4. I think we’re still trying to survive this severe winter! Just got 7 more inches of snow yesterday…our focus has been more on scraping cars, shoveling sidewalks & driveway, and will we lose electricity? I’ll begin thinking about next year in a few months. That said, we will continue to use the Abeka DVD program, which we love; so no big changes on the horizon here. I am in the market for a good, basic math for 8th grade, though. Good post. 🙂


  5. I’m constantly looking forward! Whether planning school or planning sermons for the church, I stay 6 month to a year ahead. This way if something unforeseen happens that takes me out of the loop for a while, I’m not scrambling to catch up. Planning the general direction a year out keeps my creative side engaged while my logical brain can focus on fleshing out details for the next 3 months. That’s what I’ve found works best for me so far.

    If I may offer a bit of advice: Just don’t get too anxious about life here. It’s the only one we get to live, so make sure you’re taking time to enjoy it! Blessings!


    • Yeah; on occasion, I have to remind myself to slow down. I don’t want to rush through the moment just so I can experience the next; that would defeat the whole point. This is especially difficult if the activity doesn’t go exactly according to plan. I need to leave room for adjustment.

      I plan an event or outing to the best of my ability and then force myself to slow down and just enjoy the experience. Some days are better than others. (smiling)

      Great point!


  6. Are you an oldest child? Planning ahead and organizing are typical of the first born. I’m always planning ahead myself. (I’m an oldest child.) What topics will we study? What field trips can I plan that will correspond with those topics, etc. etc. Planning ahead is good as long as I don’t hold too tightly onto the plans I’ve made. I prayerfully need to be willing to step back and let God completely rewrite them when He believes it’s necessary. 🙂


  7. You are not alone. I, too am already planning next years subjects and have already gathered about a third of my materials. I’m also working on a skeleton plan for the middle and high school years.


    • Our skeleton plan is all written out and I even have some of the books for years ahead. Now, I’m excited about working on some of our resources which will come alongside science and history in order to really help the kids master these skills.

      I’m also excited to start planning some extra curricular activities like field trips, home ec., and more!


      • I’ve been researching science and history projects too! We are going to do a history of science next year. (We need a break from Apologia science.) I plan to use s few of the projects from Art in History next year and Hands and Hearts History Kits. Next year is the first time my older student will have separate history books…I’m just not sure how that will change our schedule and it is making me a bit nuts.

        I am also changing our week to a four day school week next years and reserving Friday for activities, projects, and educational games. My kids asked for that change and after thinking about it I decided they had a good idea!


      • I tend to take our science in a little bit of a different fashion. We do “book work” Mondays and Wednesday; activities are then Tuesdays and Thursdays, based on what we read. This keep us from getting too bored and let us do more hands on learning.

        History we do all together. I aim for the highest child and then tailor it down for the rest. The littles might not get all of it, but we will be swinging around in another few years, they can pick it up again at that time. So much of our history lessons repeat, that I’ve found we don’t necessarily need a new lesson for each child, every year. We learn more and are more enthusiastic when we do it all together. It works for us. (We also stick to the Mon./Wed. and Tues./Thurs. routine. Activities are loads of fun for history!)

        I agree with your kids. Our regular routine runs Mon.-Thurs. Fridays are only for tests in the morning, with mid-morning being a quick library visit, and the afternoons are for outside activities; field trips, park days, co-op, and things of that nature. We really like our routine with this outline. Things run much more smoothly!

        Sounds like things are pretty well laid out on your end! What other brilliant ideas do you have that I can borrow? (lol) 🙂


      • Not so sure about brilliant…

        I get a lot of ideas from angelicscalliwags. Her history and science projects are amazing!

        I did get the Milestones in Science experimental kit from Thames and Kosmos for next year. from my first look through it appears to be a complete science for one year or easily two years. I am going to use it with Beautiful Feet Books History of Science course and add a few more scientists. My kids are super excited to get started.

        for this summer I would also like to get started on a DIY weather station project for us to do for an entire year. I am still in the research stage and would like to build a good kit. There are several kits on the market but I want one that will last.

        I really like how you have your schedule set up…gonna have to let that rumble around in my head for awhile.


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