And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Break the Planning Intimidation

Contains affiliate links. 

If you've always used a boxed curriculum or pre-planned resources, putting together your own homeschool plan can be intimidating. Every aspect of homeschool feels intimidating if you are a newbie! Over the last 5 (about to start 6!) years of our homeschool journey, I feel like I have improved my planning process every year.

A few years ago I started using the Well Planned Day homeschool planner and it has made all the difference. It not only gives me space to plan out our school day, semester, and year but it gives me room to plan extracurricular activites, bills, field trips, and even meals! So for my planning process I always start with my trusty planner. Before planning I've also found it a good idea to take care of early enrollment discounts with our "school" and to order and receive our curriculum. *Side note here: I've mentioned it before but you can save loads of money finding used curriculum. Look for local sales and look online. I only buy new when absolutely necessary.*

Tip: I always buy Post It tabs to make my planner even easier to use!

Sometimes I plan a subject at a time as resources come in. Other times I wait until I have them all and plan all at once. Either way doesn't really make a difference as long as you aren't overloading your student by not looking over everything at once.

These semester pages make it SO easy to plot out our 90 days and holidays. We are trying something a little different this year.

So pick a subject/ book and dig in. For some it is much easier than others. We are using Shurley English and it's pretty well laid out by unit and lesson. Math U See is also an easy one as we do one Unit a week and I just spread out the worksheets and test across the week. We are using Mystery of History this year and it was fairly easy to plan it out as well. For those books that aren't as neatly organized, take the number of lessons (or pages) and divide it out by weeks or days. We are required 90 days a semester which equals about 36 weeks a year so I usually base my lessons on one of those numbers. For example one of our new books had 54 lessons. Not quite even with my numbers but I decided to do it twice a week. That made for 27 weeks of 2 lessons each and I divided that into 13 weeks for the first semester and 14 weeks for the second semester meaning at the end of each semester we wouldn't be doing that particular subject. That works well in case we get behind we have plenty of time to catch up.

Once I've figured out how many times per week we need to work on a subject I assign it an abbreviation and start jotting it (in pencil, it's important that you can erase people!) into the planner. My abbreviations are simple (Math U See= MUS) and saves me some space and writing. Then I just go through and write it in for each day they need to work on it. If it is for just one student I put an initial next to the assignment.

I usually wouldn't get all my planning completed this early in the summer (so don't panic if you haven't started yet!) but this year the kids have requested more projects/ art/ hands on work this year and that stresses me out a little (to put it mildly). So I feel like I should get this routine planning out of the way so I can spend some time really digging into the curriculum and planning out projects. If I don't projects just won't happen and the kids will be sad and school will be no fun and we want to have more fun this year!

There is a nifty section with teacher and individual student schedules. Mine is still a work in progress. I accidentally used ink. Sigh.

So don't be afraid to step outside the (curriculum) box! If an all in one package isn't working for your child (or children) then take a look at some of the wonderful individual programs available. One thing I love the most about picking and choosing our own is that when something doesn't work or gets tedious, we can just try something new the next semester or school year! I have one child that needs to be challenged with new things so this method works the best for us.

Have any planning tips or suggestions? Do you have questions about my process? Let me know in the comments. 

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