This is my best girlfriend (she's on the right). I gave a little history of our almost-20-year friendship in an earlier post, and if you're really bored you can read about it... but the long and short of it is that God has graciously given us both the sister we never had. Our husbands are best friends, too. We have matched each other child for child until my miscarriage, but I'm catching up. Our husbands served as elders in the same church. And we both casually classically educate. Oh, and we both would live entirely on Scharffenberger chocolate if it were an option. Or Phish Food.
The reason for this post is not to bore you (or maybe I already have) but to give you a little intro to the planning weekend we had last week. Our husbands gave us from Thursday night until Saturday night to plan the year ahead of us, and some of you have asked how we went about it. We certainly did not get everything done- we had unrealistic expectations- but we did accomplish some good chunks and ate some pretty fine chocolate in the process.
The week before, I packed up every textbook, coloring book, workbook, and resource I thought I would need. I also made a list of what each child would be doing in the fall. I felt I at least had a battle plan going into the weekend. We stayed at Lisa's house and sent her husband and all the kids to hang out with mine.
We spent most of Thursday night discussing the year ahead for both of us, and Lisa wanted to really pick my brain about several choices she was facing. Should she start her 8-year-old in Latin this year (my thoughtful answer was no, for which he thanked me this week), which Omnibus I selections should she have her 12-year-old tackle this year, should she concentrate on non-academics with her only daughter? Her questions inevitably led to some of my own, and because we know each other's hearts, lifestyles, vision, and children so well, we can count on solid and realistic advice from each other.
Here are some tips on putting together your own planning weekend:
1. Consider asking a teenager to help you with the nursing babies. Our French exchange student came along and helped Lisa with her five-month-old. She even made us lunch.
2. Speaking of Elise from France-- we would have utilized her better had we been better prepared. We would have had her make photocopies for us and perhaps other paperwork. She was so willing to help and such a joy to have around!
3. Ample countertop or table space is important. I have five students this year and Lisa has four plus a preschooler. We need to be able to spread things out and make individual stacks for each child.
4. Access to two computers is really helpful. Consider borrowing a laptop if you don't have one. Just make sure your essential documents are on it.
5. Access to a printer goes without saying. And if you plan to use it for all your photocopies as well, make sure you have extra ink cartridges as back-up.
6. Lists... make lists. Make lists for everything from read-alouds to field trips to copywork. The point of lists is not to tie you to them like a noose, but to give you something to fall back upon if need be. During a planning weekend, you have the benefit of someone else's brain to help you make complete lists that will allow you to not be so rushed or stressed out during the school year.
7. Consider binding papers. Lisa and I both use binders for different subjects but particularly history. We are both not a little fed up with loose papers- somehow between filling out and coloring, the papers never quite make it back into the binders. So Lisa came up with the brilliant idea of comb binding everything this year.
8. Chocolate. Scharffenberger. Godiva. Ben and Jerry's. Or Lisa's favorite- dark chocolate caramels from Trader Joe's. Make a place in your budget for chocolate and you won't be sorry.