Monday, May 14, 2012

Homeschool planning: the Compass

"Each binder should include the student's past and current compass - a six month list of everything they want to study, learn and do."

You are going to like the Compass.

You will like it, because you are already thinking about next year's school year, aren't you.  You are turning things over in your mind. Making notes. Perusing resources.  Reading.  Some plans are no-brainers, you think, because they are just a continuation from this year. You've already made some decisions.


I would like to encourage you to back up just a bit and ask yourself this question: 

 To what extent have I thoroughly considered my child's strengths, weaknesses, skills and knowledge, and most importantly, their genius and mission 'leanings' in their life? 

This is where the Compass is most helpful in your planning journey.  It provides a highly individualized big-picture vision, a spine for the learning pathway; a nice road-map to revisit on a weekly basis and to re-evaluate about every six months.  It helps provide clarity of thought of where you are at, and where your child is at.  I'm in the process right now, with myself and each of my children (except the 1yr old!).  Remember, one of the 7 Keys of Great Teaching is 'You, not Them'.  This means, you don't ignore yourself and your own education in the process :).

Everyone practising Leadership Education has their own way of implementation, and not a lot of "detail" is provided in the book about what the Compass specifically looks like.  I like that fact, because I can make it into something that works for me; you can do the same.  The Compass is  a six month list of everything the child wants to study, learn and do - a very vague definition and feels unschooly to me.  However, after reading an excellent post on the Compass by wonderful TJEd blogger Celeste, I am implementing an outline based on hers. Thank you, Celeste!

Spend some time with each child discussing and then writing down whatever appeals to you in the following:

1. Strengths - we've all got 'em! Think beyond just academics.  Think character, hobbies and interests, etc.
- What are my favorite things to do?
- What do I excel at?
- What am I really confident in?
- What would my family/friends say I'm good at?
- What virtues are most prominent in me right now?

2. Top Personal Classics 
- make a list of the top classics that have really impacted your life; this is a list you will add to
- maybe you phrase it as the 'best 10 books you've ever read'
- beside each book, make a note as to the general theme or how it impacted you

3. Areas to Strengthen - we've all got these too!
- What needs work?
- Where am I weaker academically?  
- What life-skills do I need to work on?
- What would my family/friends say I can improve upon?
- What virtues do I need to cultivate most right now?

4. Objectives - these should be a natural fall-out from the above.  As a parent, you may be nudging your child in one direction or another
- What books do I want to read in the next six months?  - if 'kindness' is a virtue that needs building upon, maybe the chosen classics or stories revolve around this theme.   
- What part of my Core Book (eg the Bible) do I want to spend time on in the next six months? - for my core kids, we are spending time Bible storybooks that outline salvation history - like a Jesse Tree in storybook form
- How can I go deeper into my favorite things and my passions? - I notice how Dawson loves to work with building things and creating things with his hands, so I'm thinking how I might extend and build upon this love of his - so we bought a kids sandbox kit and he's responsible to build it
- What skills do I want to/need to work on?  For example, my daughter makes the same meal every two weeks - so that she gets really good at it - its my requirement but she gets to pick the meal we work on; the first school year it was roast chicken dinner every other Monday.  
- What academic area(s) do I want to or need to study? - when you answer this question with your kids, it becomes a clear signal where to focus your prep time; child weak in reading? then must find a way to  inspire reading via games, books, experiences, etc
- Are there any other things I want to learn, see or do?
- What is my mission and purpose? - don't be afraid of this one. Of course its not written in stone. But if there are any tendencies at all, even if its very general in nature, write it down. As an example, one of my children said whatever her mission, she wanted to inspire others.

The Compass exercise is not something to whip up in a half-hour, so do spend some time on it and enjoy the process.  Keep a copy of each child's Compass in both your own and each child's binder.  And if you have a child approaching or in Scholar phase, I would encourage you to use "The Real You" exercise in A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens, as it goes even deeper than the Compass.  It also includes a Teen Top 100 Booklist to work through, if desired.

This week, I'm working on Compasses for the binders.  Join me?

May God grant you all the blessings of an abundant week and an abundant life :)!!

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