Scheduling. Planning. There are those homeschool moms who see those two words as a necessary evil, those who get giddy with excitement over the idea of a blank piece of paper ready to be filled with lesson plans, and those who fall somewhere in the middle. I tend to fall in the middle with a slight leaning toward the giddy side. I enjoy planning, for the most part. It’s what keeps me sane during the school year, but I’m not a huge scheduler.
It seems like a really big question among new homeschooling parents is: How do you plan? How you do schedule your day?
(Okay, okay, so that’s really two questions.)
While I’m big on lesson plans (because I’ll totally forget the little things — like, oh, say, reading — if I don’t have lesson plans written out), I’m not big on a hard and fast schedule. It goes against my grain. I tend to get very stressed with specific time frames. Yet, somehow, we seem to make it to church on time each week, quite possibly because we love our new church, but I digress. We have a homeschool routine. And, for those of you stressing about late start times, I’ll be honest and say that it is my goal to move our schedule up this year from a start time of 11:00 or 11:30 to an earlier start of 10:00 or 10:30. We’ll see how that goes. We’re not working on it this week.
Our daily routine looks something like:
8:30 — Mom drags her sleepy behind out of bed
8:30-9:30 — Mom’s Bible study and computer time
9:30-10:00 — Mom’s workout time
10:00-11:00 — Mom wakes kids, so they can start work on chore chart. Mom showers and works on household chores
11:00-12:30 — Bible (everyone), then, Brianna works independently, while Mom works with Josh and Megan on grammar, spelling, journals, etc. Josh and Megan begin independent work (math, Explode the Code, handwriting).
12:30-1:00 — Lunch prep, kids work independently.
1:00-2:00 — Lunch (includes TV and computer time)
2:00-2:30 — Silent reading time
2:30-?? — Science, history, reading (for instruction), hands-on activities, family projects, and any unfinished work from the morning
While I don’t have color-coded blocks in thirty minute increments, we typically stick fairly close to our routine times out of sheer habit. Like I said, I’d like to work on getting school started by 10:00 or 10:30, but I won’t stress if it doesn’t happen. None of us are morning people and I enjoy being able to work with our bodies’ natural rhythms as a benefit of homeschooling.
As far as actual lesson plans go, I’ve mentioned before that I use forms from DonnaYoung.org. There are tons of forms to choose from on her site. I’ve got one that I use for both my master planning and as assignment sheets for the kids. I like to plan my lessons for three weeks at a time. That three week planning was born, years ago, from a 28-day check-out time from the library and me wanting to leave the last week free to finish up books as needed. The check-out times at the library have changed, but the three-weeks planning schedule has stuck.
I generally start by filling in any outside activities that we may have going on. Then, I plug in the easy stuff: math, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams workbooks — the subjects with specific lessons or pages each day. Then, there is the stuff that never really changes — our Bible Study Guide/Keys for Kids rotation (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday for the former, Wednesday and Friday for the latter) and spelling and reading, which are just “pick up and do the next thing” books.
Honestly, math, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams are “pick up and do the next thing,” too, but this year I’m giving the younger two kids lesson/page numbers on their assignment sheets to a) encourage independence and b) make sure that I know what lesson they’re supposed to be doing in case it happens not to get done…not that anyone around here would try to get away with not doing their work from time to time.
Then, I tackle the more difficult stuff, like history, science, and our Friday projects. Because these take more time and mental effort to plan, I save them for last, so that I at least have a sense of accomplishment in having the “skeleton” of the schedule in place with the easier-to-plan stuff. These last subjects are the ones that I have to sit down and look at to determine what we’re going to do from the text, what comes from supplemental materials, and when and where we’ll want to do hands-on projects.
The hardest part of planning seems to be the beginning of the school year when we’re out of our routine. Those first three weeks’ schedules took forever to plan. Now that they’re done, though, I’ll typically spend a Saturday afternoon, once a month, planning for the rest of the year, three weeks at a time.
What kind of planner are you? If you have any specific questions about how we plan, our routine, or the forms I like, just let me know and I’ll be glad to try to answer them.