Planning for School

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It seems that one thing homeschool parents always wonder about other homeschool parents is how they do things. From what a day looks like in someone else’s house, to what materials other people use, to how other people organize and plan. So, just because I’m a pretty transparent person, I thought I’d share with you how I do my lesson planning — and maybe you’ll share with me how you do yours and we can both pick up a tip or two.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I like to use the Basic Unlabeled Weekly planner pages from Donna Young’s Lesson Planners” page. (I popped over to get the link and – wow! – she’s got a lot of great new stuff! If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to her site, you might want to go take a look around.) I’ve saved the Word document to my computer and customized it to suit our family’s needs.

I usually do my planning on Saturday afternoon so that we can run to the library on Sunday afternoon, if we need to. A quiet library visit after the post-church nap is a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I usually plan for two weeks at a time, sometimes more, but never more than four. If I plan for more than four weeks at a time, plans always seem to go awry and it stresses me when my pretty little typed-up lessons plans get messed up.

Yes, I’m that anal. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you haven’t read this post.

I generally start by plugging in all the things that are pretty repetitive: our Bible study, reading, math, grammar. Then, I work on Brianna’s assignment sheet, which I do on the same lesson planner form. I give her actual page numbers for the subjects for which she uses workbooks. That way, I know, at the end of the week, where she’s supposed to be. Don’t ask me why I found the need to develop that technique. (Hint: It wasn’t because a certain someone was not getting assigments done when she went off to work independently. It wasn’t that at all.)

Finally, I do the most time-consuming part of the planning — science and history. These two subjects aren’t bad, but they do require me to read ahead and see what materials we’re going to need, where I’ll need to supplement with library books and what hands-on activities I want to do. This part of the planning may involve figuring out when I want to finish a read-aloud and how many pages we need to read a day and things of that nature. Lately, it seems that I’ve gotten it down to a science and it hasn’t been taking me nearly as long as it used to.

What about you? How do you do your lesson plans? Or, do you even do lesson plans? I find that they’re more to keep me sane than anything else.

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  1. I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for the ideas. Just yesterday I sketched out the next three months of school. I use an online calendar that allows me to drag lessons and assignments around when we need to reschedule for some reason. I used to use a paper planner but all the cross-outs and arrows drove me nuts.

  2. Wow. You are way more organized than I am. I’m more of an unschooler, so most of our homeschooling planning is simply following what’s interesting to us at the time. That may mean noticing the boys’ interests and requesting some books from the library, or taking advantage of spur-of-the-moment opportunites as they arise (dissecting the broken vaporizer, for instance, and using the motor for experiments).

    I used to be more of a planning person, but found that both the boys and I were more stressed by that approach, b/c I didn’t allow enough free time to just follow where our interests lead.


  3. I always change. Sometimes I keep a notebook, sometimes nothing. Depends on what is going on in life. I’m not required to keep any records at this point.

    Last autumn, I started using the Robinson Curriculum. I set up a binder for each of the school aged children with a reading list, quizzes, writing section, and math section. Now THEY keep track. I still monitor. So far, so good.

  4. Hey found your site — I am a homeschool mom to 3 wonderful kids. You have some grest ideas!I will have to keep up with your blog. As for my plans I keep things in a notebook. I will have to make a post of everything we do.Thanks for sharing

  5. I too need to plan in order to keep myself sane! It also is helpful for the kids. I make up my own plan sheets on the computer and tweak them from time to time. How I plan varies from season to season, depending on what we are doing. Like you, I cannot plan in detail too far ahead of time b/c I would end up changing too much. A week or two at a time is good for me.

    Our schooldays are divided into a sort of "block schedule" (no, it doesn't work as neatly as it sounds), with certain things plugged into certain spots and others fitting in wherever they work. I print out block sheets for several weeks at a time and fill them in with pencil. (Mechanical pencil, of course, b/c *I* am too anal to use regular pencils which do not stay perfectly sharp. πŸ™‚

    Currently, each of my kids get a "weekly work" sheet each week which I have typed up. This is a sort of checklist for their "individual" work (some of which is actually done with me but most of which is done independently). Among other things, this sheet will contain history timeline entries, extra history & science reading assignments (sometimes that is just "bookbox- 20 min" and sometimes it is specific), grammar pages, etc. They also get a daily checklist each day. This helps keep all of our ADD brains on track.

    For history & science planning, I often make a planning form on the computer, but again, it depends on what we are doing & how we are doing it. Sometimes I am very anal with my planning and sometimes not; despite my love for having everything planned out ahead of time, I do more "planning on the fly" than I care to admit. πŸ™‚ Even when I do the anal plans I don't end up following them completely, but I still like having something to bounce off of.

  6. That’s me too, 40winkzzz — the planning is totally for keeping ME sane, even when we don’t stick to it completely.

  7. Thinks for pointing out this blank planner! I did just buy the Edu-Tracker software, but I’m trying to decide whether I should keep it or just go with something more like a spreadsheet (like this)

  8. Hehehe – I’m like you – I HATE to mess up my lovely lesson plan page. πŸ™‚

    This is a great post for new homeschoolers (or old homeschoolers who are struggling with how to plan)…I’m going to link to it in my next Peter Piper’s Picks (April 18). Good Work!

  9. Thanks for the heads up about Donna's updates. I hadn't been there for a while either. πŸ™‚

    Planning .. it's in constant metamorphis at my place, but I must say it HAS been simplified now we're using Sonlight. The IG's have most of the work done for me, but I do like to write daily goals down for my children. They each have a student diary and I write in the work to be done. Sonlight's IGs don't contain the math and all the L.A. elements, plus music/dance/art .. so I put all that in.

    All that planning usually happens over a cuppa on Sunday afternoon/evening. However, I'm thinking Saturday evenings may work better after reading your post. A quiet library visit on Sunday, before the week is in full swing, sounds like a very workable idea!!!

    Hmm – I may put up a more recent post on how I'm planning now. I really need to update from what I wrote up last year. πŸ™‚

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