My (Fantasy) Homeschool Planning Steps
This was a post that I created last school year, shortly after the year got underway…(had to have been October 2014 since I make mention that my daughter wasn’t yet 14) and I was all gung-ho still and things were going spiffy with my new Experience-Based Learning system. I wrote it in anticipation of how I was going to be doing my planning….and never published it because it never actually happened this way, LOL!
BUT…I think there’s some value in the info below…I’m now going to take this fantasy plan, tweak it to the new year and TRY TRY AGAIN!!!
What do you think? Is there something here that might be useful to you? Might you find some idea that you could use in the upcoming new school year to help with your own planning? Have at it!! I wish you well! And leave me a comment below if you do make good on YOUR plan! You’ll be one step ahead of me!!
Now, on to the fantasy……. *cue sparkly harp music*
P.S. See notes in red italics for the updates.
I saw a discussion on Facebook recently asking fellow homeschoolers how they do their homeschool planning, and it occurred to me that writing out my steps might be helpful to other homeschoolers looking for guidance.
So, here it is, my planning routine! Mind you, I am not organized enough to do this every single weekend…and often I just do the most crucial and get to the rest when I get to them…and luckily most of my stations don’t require rebooting every single weekend. Some can actually last weeks! But for the weekends that I do need to do a bit of everything needed, I try to follow this routine:
- Correct all math work from the week and go over with kids. (Hopefully I’ve not fallen behind on this during the week…but knowing myself all too well, I realize I’m often behind on correcting math. So I just plan it into my weekend to catch up.) Nope, never happened regularly, though I did do this often. Go, me! What ended up working was just doing my son’s as he completed his work, and giving my daughter the answer key to correct her own. Pre-algebra! Better that she saw her mistakes immediately and figured them out as she went then wait for unreliable mom to get around to checking her work.
- Check kids’ journals and checklists from the week, and correct any mistakes. As part of our homeschooling, each of my children has a notebook that I ask them to write all that they are doing for their stations, enrichment classes, and field trips, etc. Anything we’d consider “school” related. Just a short description. So at this time I check that the items they checked off as done in their checklists correspond to a journal entry. My younger (9yr old), I am ok with just a line…my nearly 14yr old, I ask for more details. She often will do a paragraph or 2, unless she’s having a bad day.Sometimes one or both of my kids forget to journal about what they did for a particular day, so I try to get them to fill in the missing info over the weekend, as possible. Also: Sometimes I feel like an activity needs more info from my younger, so I’ll have him write the first part (The date, what he did) and then dictate to me more info and I’ll write that in his journal for him. After Dec my son switched to blogging instead of journaling (an option I gave him since he prefers typing over writing)…and it was a constant struggle to get him to even do that…my daughter actually did a bang up job of journaling all year and filled her entire journal with very little prompting from me! SCORE! I did pitch the checklists mid-year though….they ended up being a waste of paper.
- Get math packets and stations checklists rebooted and ready for the new week. I have their Math Mammoth worktext pages in packets of 5 pages, one for each day of the week. They don’t always get them finished each week, though. If they finished a packet, they need a fresh one on their math clipboard. And every week they need a new, fresh, checklist ready for the new week. This was actually not a problem. I just did as needed, and ditched the checklists.
- Find any new artwork and hang. I try to hang as I go, but often neglect to do so…so I added this into my weekend plan so that I make sure to gather those things up and display. We have a huge bulletin board for smaller things, and a fishing line all along the ceiling for hanging their art work for display. Yeah, never did this.
- Go through “create” station drawers, reboot, replace as necessary, taking out and putting away any unused materials. Check our shelves for books with activities that we could use in the new week, as well as Pinterest. Print/copy instructions as needed. Make sure there’s at least 5 drawers that are totally ready to go for creative projects for the upcoming week. Also add all needed supplies to a shopping list.
This “create” station is probably my biggest job. I want to keep all 10 drawers I have allotted for this station full of potential projects and their materials…rarely do I have all 10 filled, but that’s still my goal! My kids tend to have plenty of their own projects going on so I just rarely needed to do this…but I really do want to work harder at this and pull stuff out of our supplies that they never get to.
- Check art supplies, add needed supplies to shopping list. Once I’ve started a shopping list for the “create” station, I want to check our staple art supplies (glue, colored pencils, tape, paper, etc) and make sure to add anything that is low and vital to the shopping list (or order online next chance I get). Nope, never did this either.
- Reboot “read” station bookshelves/baskets…pull all books already read or that they have no interest in, put in library bags to return (or reshelve our own books). This is my chance to refresh the “read” station, to keep it interesting to the kiddos. A lot of these books I find through just skimming library shelves, but often times I’ll do research via Amazon and Goodreads to find more good book options that fit nicely with whatever topic we are currently tackling. Now this I actually did do all the time! Usually all library books. Yay, me!
- Check our shelves for books to put out in the new week. I have so many good books that I just forget about once they are on the shelf. Forcing myself to go through them all periodically to look for ones that would fit with our current topics allows me to finally bring those books out for use! This is something I almost never got to and still REALLY want to work on this year.
- Head to library to return books and find new ones. I need to make sure to get those books back to the library regularly as I have a habit of overdue books that has cost me quite a lot! Also allows me to find more good books to keep the kids interested in whatever topics we are covering. Still paying on library fines from last year. Sigh.
- Reboot “play” station…check for unused games, rotate games as necessary. We have a fair amount of games to keep us stocked in this area…but I still try to find new games to rotate in from time to time, to keep things fresh and interesting. Nope, didn’t do this either….I think I had far too many games at this station, though…this year I took out the bookshelf that I used for this station and moved the furniture around so I’m having to use something different for this so I’m going to try something different and just have a couple games and rotate more often with just a couple. See if that helps.
- Reboot the “write” station…check word prompts, rotate/replace as necessary. I get these through Pinterest as well as writing lesson books. When I find something I think is good, I photocopy or print it and place in our hanging pockets. This keeps the choices fresh and interesting. After a few weeks or sometimes about a month, I take the things that were never chosen and file them away to bring out another time, replacing with new choices. I try to find writing prompts and ideas that I think will appeal to my children and make writing the least painful. Sigh, I suck at rebooting this station…it’s at the back of the room and I just forget about it. On my list of things to do.
- Reboot “listen” station recordings, rotate/replace as necessary. I have the most difficult time with the recordings. I haven’t found enough high quality, interesting podcasts for my kids to listen to, and my kids usually reject audiobooks. Usually this station ends up being me reading to them…and that’s fine, as all of us enjoy that best…I just like to have other options, including options that they don’t have to wait for me to accomplish. I’m still working on expanding my repertoire for this station. My kids just don’t like listening to audiobooks or podcasts much at all, so I just don’t put much work into finding things for this…but I keep hoping that will change! I’ll keep trying…but I don’t put a lot of work into this because of that.
- Reboot “watch” station videos, rotate/replace as necessary. Depending on the topic, this is pretty easy. There’s a zillion good videos on PBS alone. But for this station I take whatever topics we are currently covering and do a search of PBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube, and then bookmark videos onto my Symbaloo account.Lately I have been tweaking this system, as my kids usually want to watch videos on our tv, not on a computer…So I check Netflix and Amazon first and add appropriate videos to those watchlists. I actually have the primary profile on Netflix as our “Educational videos” profile, and our just those videos on there…deleting/replacing as we change subjects…But Amazon isn’t as simple, since it doesn’t have profiles. (So allll our watchlist videos, recreational and parent pics too, are on there) so I have to remind them to check with me before picking a video to watch. Usually they are very good about this. I don’t even remember what we ended up doing by the end of the year for the “Watch” station…probably just our standard Nature, NOVA, PBS documentaries and such. Time to get back to work digging new and exciting stuff up! And I’d like to make use of Symbaloo again…totally got offtrack using that…it’s a great tool!
So that’s it! That’s my plan for planning! So far I’ve not been able to find time to do the whole thing start to finish, but I do it in pieces as needed.
And I’ve added these steps to my HomeRoutines app on my phone so I can check things off as I go and have reminders pop up. Yeah, I’m not really using that app a lot either….need to get back to that too. I go back and forth with that thing!! It’s really a fantastic app! I love that when I get offtrack that my routines are still safely stored in there, ready for me when I come back to it…and when I use it, it really helps a lot.
I’m finding that, like all things in my life, I get off track with planning all the time…and so having a system in place to refer to when I’ve lost my way has made things much more doable for this ever-distracted ADD mom.
I’d love to hear from you about how you do your planning, and how you keep from getting off track! Especially love to hear of tools used for these purposes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you have to share, and if anything I’ve shared is helpful to you!