Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Streamlining School Planning

Oh, the hours and hours I spent in school planning those first few years of homeschool.  For months, I would painstakingly comb over curriculum, ordering in early Spring so that it would get to me in time to map out weekly lessons.  By the time summer rolled around, I would be working through next year's January lessons.  I bought planners and planning software and gradebooks.  And each year I had every intention of following my plans exactly.

Every year I failed miserably.

By week three.

Planning is great.  I have to admit, I actually enjoy planning.  But I don't always enjoy implementing. 

Let's face it, sometimes things just don't go as planned.  Curriculum doesn't always work out.  Things take longer than you expect.  Eight children all develop strep throat or a stomach virus simultaneously and school has to come to a halt for a week. 

So I gave up on meticulous planning and I now opt for a more streamlined approach.

This is my school binder.  It has a place for homeschool catalogs that I am considering purchasing from.  It has a folder to keep my school attendance log.

Press PAUSE.

This is by far my favorite school attendance chart.   The entire year fits on two pages and you can add your attendance days as you go to make sure you are on track. 

You can also use this chart to plan your Start Date, Last Day of School, and all the breaks in between.  Just decide when you want to start, fill in your breaks, tally up the number of days to be sure that it aligns with the number of days your school district (or curriculum) requires, and you're golden!  Be sure to use a pencil as it sometimes takes some finagling (that's fu-NAY-ga-ling, do we only use that word here in the South?) to make it all work. 
Once I've got my calendar planned.  I do some evaluation of the curriculum we used last year.  That means, I ask myself two questions.

"Did I like it?" and "Do I want to use it again?'

If I answer 'no', then I do a little online and catalog research until I find what I want.  I label one section of my binder "curriculum" and give each child a notebook page.  As I choose, I make a list of the needed curriculum to purchase for each child on their pages along with the cost.  (This helps the hubby to see where our homeschool budget is going.)  Once these details are finalized, I sit down with Chad and discuss the curriculum I've chosen and what our goals are for each child for the school year and write those down as well.

If I'm really feeling on top of things, I might jot down some field trip or craft ideas as well.

After that, I order the curriculum and we go with it.  No daily or weekly lesson planning.  It's pretty simple.

I did want to talk a little about our student planners though...
This year I made a planner for each of the older kids (grades 2 and up).  I used some folders I had bought on sale as the front and back cover.  I just slit them down the middle and inserted the sheets I wanted in order, then dropped them off at a local office supply store to have them spiral bound for just a couple dollars each.
I like that using the folders as the cover not only makes it more sturdy, but also creates a pocket folder on the inside cover to store extra papers in.  I included 2012 and 2013 one-page calendars in the front that I printed from my Schoolhouse Planner pages.  (You can get the Schoolhouse Planner free when you sign up for a paid membership to .  See my review here.)
The bulk of my planner pages are made up this two-page spread.  It's a place for my kids to write their co-op homework each week and to check off the individual work and chores that they've done.  If their planner is filled out correctly and they've completed all of their work for the week, they get to pull a prize from our prize box.

You can download these pages here.  I'm afraid they can't be edited and they are pretty specific to our family's needs, but perhaps you'll find them helpful... Homework Assignment Planner Pages - Page 001 Homework Assignment Planner Pages - Page 002

In the back of the student planners, I've added several other planner pages like book logs, field trip logs, their own attendance sheets to track the number of days they've completed school, and more.  Again most of my planner sheets came from the Schoolhouse Planner.

I had to share a pic of this quote that A10 apparently thought was inspirational enough to jot down in her planner.  Love it!


I'm not the only one discussing Homeschool Planning today.  Check out the Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop for more ideas and inspiration!  Pin It Now!

1 comment:

  1. I love the co-op list- great idea! I am always asking, too late, "What's your co-op homework?" I am definitely making a co-op form for this year's co-op. Thanks!



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