Can I confess something to you all? I don't lesson plan & I usually don't even know what we're going to do on any given day until after I've had my coffee. I know. Crazy, right!?
Now of course if lesson planning is your thing that's great. If it works for You then boo keep doing your thing! BUT if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with lesson planning or maybe you feel limited by it or maybe you're just curious how we actually get anything done without lesson planning then I invite you to keep reading to see just one of the ways that I approach this whole not lesson planing thing.
Off and on throughout the last decade I've tried lesson planning, we've done unit studies, had open and go curriculum, we've had checklists, and schedules. And at various ages and stages those things worked for us in one way or another. Our kids ages and where I and they are at mentally, emotionally, and physically also tends to dictate how we approach learning and "school" time. And one of the things that I've learned is that being okay with changing things up especially if something isn't working anymore gives us all the greatest chances at feeling like we're succeeding.
Currently one of the ways that we approach school (especially for our 11 year old) is through invitation or what I think the "experts" would call strewing. If you look at the photo of what's laid out on our table you'll see an example of what today's invitation looks like. I've got a math game we can play together (more on that later), a list of halloweeny words to unscramble (for some low key spelling and writing practice), a book I picked out at the library (Funny Bones by Duncan Tonatiuh), parts of a hovercraft S.T.E.M project we worked on yesterday, and I also have a website pulled up with an amusement park physics & roller coaster building lesson.
Will they get to all those things today? I don't know. Do they have to get to all those things today? Nope. Because what if they start working on the S.T.E.M. project some more and do a bunch of reading, research, and video watching to make their project work better? I count that as some of the best kinds of learning and reading. The kind that is self directed because they want to dive deeper. Or what if they read the book I left out and are inspired to create some art so while they're creating art I throw on a science podcast for us to listen to. If you're interested in reading more specific examples about this check out this post.
Doing it this way requires me to look for the things that are actually getting done. Because it's not all spelled out for me and it can't always be planned. sometimes a S.T.E.M. project is disguised as math, reading, writing, art, critical thinking, and science all rolled into one seemingly easy project. And that's more than okay. It counts. Plus who says that math has to be confined to a specific curriculum anyways or that reading has to be from a chapter book.
So at the start of the day when I invite our kid to work on some things I like to be sure that my invitation at least hits on the core basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) while leaving them lots of room to chase their own interests without the pressure of ticking a bunch of things from some arbitrary list. Don't get me wrong I LOVE me some lists. I'm the type of person who writes things down on their list just so I can cross them off even if it's already done.
But sometimes the lists and lesson plans can make us feel boxed in (if we let them). They can make us feel unnecessarily guilty for not completing ALL the tasks. I learned a while back that whether you lesson plan or not when we take the pressure off ourselves and our kids and leave lots of room for exploration and extended time to work on things that are capturing their interests so much magic can happen!