The following is a guest post by Sheila Petruccelli of Sure as the World.
Summer is planning time at our house. The upcoming year seems expansive, exciting and full of possibility — the towering piles of books, papers and post-its scattered everywhere are tangible proof of this.
For the most part, we follow the Waldorf curriculum and block scheduling works well for us. My big-picture planning consists of assigning each month a different subject to study, and this is true for every month from August through May except for February.
February is left absolutely blank except for the cryptic abbreviation, ROR, which stands for “Room of Requirement.”
Everyone who has read the Harry Potter series will know that I have shamelessly stolen this concept from Hogwarts.
I remember first reading about the Room of Requirement and loving the concept of a magical place that provided space and time for whatever was needed. Having an unplanned month smack in the middle of our school year does that for us.
Whatever I need homeschooling-wise, February provides the space and time. It’s one of those things I don’t even question anymore; I have actually come to count on it.
Having a month of unplanned days — and anyone who has homeschooled for even one February knows those are longggg days — helps to shake things up a little and makes the month go faster.
Well . . . a little faster.
Deciding exactly what to do in February takes a little discerning. After the hustle and bustle of December and the titanic effort of getting everyone back at it in January, I look at our year up until that point and assess how things are going.
What do we need to work on? What needs more practice? Has there been too much math? Not enough math? And why haven’t we done [fill in the blank] yet?
Yes, there is always something that needs to brushed up, broadened or brought into balance. I try hard not to get overwhelmed with this assessment and just identify one thing. One. Thing. And work on it. It’s amazing what can be done.
I have used the Room of Requirement to hone our math skills, especially in the early grades. We practiced skip counting with bean bags. We played endless math games. After a month, times tables, carrying and borrowing all showed marked improvement.
This was a skill I wanted to teach for years, but never seemed to be able to set aside the time to do it. This past February, I finally had the chance. I felt this to be one of our major accomplishments this year.
Savoring a novel
We have afternoon story time most days, but February seems especially suited to a nice long novel that just sweeps you away. Plus, talking time for some hot tea, a nice snack and a satisfying story helps the afternoons not seem so cold and gray.
A whole month of art
This is an idea I have filed away for this coming February. I think it would be fun to break out the paints, colored pencils, crayons, a whole ream of paper and really let creativity flourish.
Rather than trying to squeeze art into a lesson, I want the art to BE the lesson — for a whole blessed month! Plus all that color has to be good for the winter soul.
Above all, I use this month to reconnect with my boys, recapture some of the joy that might have dwindled since August or just remind myself of the flexibility inherent in homeschooling.
There is time and there is space for all we need.
Do you purposefully “schedule” unplanned time into your week or your year? What have you found most fulfilling or surprising?