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Planning Backwards: How to Crush It in 4 Steps

Backwards planning is like choosing a meal to make for dinner, breaking it down to create a grocery list, and then following each step in the recipe to make the meal a success that will fuel your family. This approach makes more sense to the desired outcome rather than taking random items from your pantry and refrigerator, then trying to come up with a meal to include them all.

While you won't always have the option of choosing the more logical approach, backwards planning will decrease the chances of missing important, key topics in your teaching.

By breaking down the concepts that make up a topic, you are able to create a road map that is specific to each objective. Similarly, thoroughly covering each supporting concept will allow your learner to craft a solid understanding of the pieces that create a bigger whole.

For example, teaching multiplication would require mastery of number sense and addition to ensure the learner is successful in continuing to build skills upon previously acquired knowledge.

“By breaking down the concepts that make up a topic, you are able to create a road map that is specific to each objective.”

Choose a Big, Main Topic

For the sake of the analogy, let's say this is the lasagna, or meal of choice.

Within a subject, select a large topic, like the life cycle of a plant. Think about all of the concepts that will be important for your learner to have as prior knowledge so this new idea will seamlessly make sense.

What supporting topics must be mastered first?

Picture these as the layers of noodles and yummy meat sauce in your lasagna. For the life cycle of a plant, backing topics would include needs of living things and understanding what a cycle is.

These "layers" will form the layout of lessons, discussions, and activities that make up the practice toward mastery of each concept. Planning how much time is necessary is at your discretion, which is where your judgment of your learner's understanding comes into play.

If you need more learning sessions to develop the ideas or present the new information with a different tool, such as videos and hands-on practice, don't hesitate for your child's best opportunity at comprehension.

You may first choose to assess your child's existing skills, but if your learner is in the beginning stages of schooling, this may not be applicable. If there are pieces that your learner is not comfortable with or needs reinforcement of, plan mini-lessons to fill in those gaps before moving to another chunk of the main topic.

Mini-lessons can also be used to provide deeper understanding and immersion into a new concept. These smaller bits of teaching are the ingredients that make the whole dish possible.

Enjoy the interests your child has in these ideas and allow for unplanned conversation to guide your instruction.

Don't be afraid to adjust!

All in all, planning is only a rough draft of your approach in teaching and will call for some tweaks along the way. This is a sign that you are aware of your learner's needs as they progress, so allow for change and flowing discovery while learning.

You're going to rock teaching at home. Planning backwards is worth the time and attention because it provides a 360º look at each big topic you will cover with your learner.

For planning and preparing templates created especially for homeschooling, hardworking parents like us, pop on over here! If you want even more chat about making the most of your teaching-at-home, join me here.



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