I have been told by several of my friends that I am a master at winging it. I have a knack for seemingly preparing things on the fly and having them (usually) turn out well. While I don’t wing everything all the time, I find that I do go through seasons where I’m more prone to plan this way. I think I’ve developed this skill out of necessity since every two years we tend to add a newborn to the family mix (which is the current season I am in again).
Wing It: Informal to accomplish or perform something without full preparation or knowledge; improvise
While thinking about this recently, I came to the conclusion that it’s not that I don’t have a plan or am not prepared, but actually that I’m over-prepared and ready to be flexible. Let me explain using my current preschool planning as an example.
My Preschool Planning:
Every year I print off schedule sheets for my tot and preschooler with the best intentions of actually filling them out. I might fill it out for the first week, but for some reason I can’t keep up with it. I know that we still need to do activities but I often struggle with weekly formal planning because:
Because I don’t have a written lesson plan, others can easily assume that I am winging it. What they don’t know is that there was advance preparation done that enables my “winging it” to be successful (most of the time. )
Here’s my secret:
1. I’ve thought about what I want my 2yr. old and 3yr. old to accomplish for the year. I actually typed out a general year outline for my 3 (almost 4 year old.) Even though I may never look at it again, I have an over-all idea of the direction I would like to go with her schooling for the year.
2. Once I decided the general direction, I started pooling together resources. I knew that I was going to do Letter of the Week activities this year, so I started a binder and printed out materials ahead of time.
For each letter I have printed:
a. Letter cut-and-paste page from Homeschool Creations
b. Letter cards from the Members section at 1+1+1=1
c. Do-a-Dot pages from Childcareland
Next I started a file folder for each letter where I have printed and laminated many of the ABC activities we will be using.
I also have a pretty good amount of educational games, puzzles, and manipulatives that I can add to the day.
In addition to all of this, I try to have a well-stocked craft stash. You can see how I’ve organized our craft supplies in my Craft Stash post.
3. We have one activity that we do every day that helps structure our learning time. This is key. My girls expect it and if I forget, they are the first ones to remind me to do it. This is the signal to start our learning time. This year the activity is our calendar time.
We don’t do anything fancy with our calendar time. We sing the Days of the Week song, add the new number, count the numbers and then sing the Months of the Year (sung to the tune of 10 Little Indians). Next we say/sing our Bible verse, go over our Virtue of the week, and introduce our new letter of the week. (I have our Bible verse, Virtue card, and letter card on a small tri-fold board on the bookcase so I’ll remember what we’re suppose to be doing–lol).
4. I remember that play and outdoor time is learning! In fact, I look for opportunities for my young children to use their imaginations and their 5 senses.
Updated 2012: Here are some examples of how we incorporate nature learning and science into our year:
What Winging-It Looks Like:
Remember, I’m 9mo. pregnant at the time of this writing, and not getting good sleep. So my preschool day looks like this:
1. I’m still in my pajamas while two little kids are ready to get started for the day. My brain hasn’t fully turned on yet, but I walk into the homeschool room.
2. I see the calendar board and I go through the motions while my brain clears up and I am thinking again. Oh, today’s letter is….
3. I go to the binder and pull out an activity or two. If the girls are still interested, we move on to a game from the file folder. If they are still wanting to do things we add an activity from the game closet. If they could care less about an activity, I can easily switch it up by adding or changing resources. If I have time I can search for more ideas on the web or make something myself. But if I don’t, I still feel like we have accomplished something.
Successful Winging It in Action!