Recently a new homeschool mom asked me about my homeschool planner. She was pondering if she needed one or not, and was questioning how to keep everything organized. Now here’s my dirty homeschool secret…..I don’t use a planner! Well….at least not in the sense of a traditional planner. Yes, I am an extreme type A mom, one who has lists to create goals, keeps a meal plan, and designs cleaning schedules. I also know that homeschool planners are ALL the rage among bloggers, so I am not the norm here. However, for me, they just didn’t work.
The problem is that I find myself so stressed at the end of the day if I can’t check every box, or cross off every item. It usually went like this……..I would spend weeks working on planners (monthly, weekly, daily, and sometimes even yearly). Then once we actually started school our planner would work for a week, MAYBE a month. Almost instantly life would throw me a monkey wrench, and suddenly my planner is off track! I would throw it to the wind in a torrent of tears, all while feeling like a MASSIVE failure. You see the planner was holding me back, and making me crazy! So now instead of the planner I utilize several other resources to make my homeschool day go smoothly.
Today I will share my crazy system with you! I generally do all my homeschool planning no more than one to two weeks in advance, usually on a weekend. It typically takes me about an hour. Weekly planning helps me keep a better eye on how our homeschool flows, and allows me to make necessary adjustments as we go. So here are the resources I use each week:
1). A Monthly Calendar
This is just a basic printable calendar. I usually print one year at a time. Then at the end of every month I fill out the following month. This isn’t an actual place where I put school work, but just a basic household calendar. It’s color-coded so I can easily see what’s going on every day, This year I also plan to write in my meal plan for each week (in pencil of course) so I can easily see what the day holds, all in one convenient place. I pull out the calendar each week to see what the following week (or if I’m feeling ambitious 2 weeks) holds.
Both of my girls have checklists that are printed and taped on the wall at the beginning of each week. Again, these are not assignment specific, but just a general list of what subjects they need to complete each day. They also include a spot for daily & weekly chores, along with reminders for things like Awana work. They check off their work as they go throughout their day. My oldest thrives on lists, (she’s a little like her momma) so she loves this system. It also gives me the ability to quickly see where everyone is throughout the day. I leave a section for notes on each day where I list supplies we may need. These supplies are usually put out over the weekend so I don’t have to mess with them during the week.
I also use the checklist to manage days when we need to be out of the house. When the girls were smaller being out wasn’t such a big deal. Now their work load has increased so it’s a different story. I try to keep all appointments to either early morning or late afternoon, so we still have time to get at least the basics in. On those days I simply mark off the subject(s) that they need to skip on their planners, or I may write in an individual assignment to skip. The only exception to this rule is on co-op Fridays, and we typically skip school on those days.
3). Teacher’s Manuals
I heavily rely on my teacher’s manuals, even though we do distance learning for our core subjects. They are invaluable for supply lists, schedules, and objectives. I simply use a post-it flag and mark each week where we are in the manuals. Then I can easily flip them open and quickly list any supplies or special notes for the week. I make all these notes directly on the girl’s checklists so everything is nice and together in one place. If I am using a curriculum that I am planning on my own I use a simple planning sheet to sub for my teacher’s manuals. Once again, these are not date specific.
That’s basically all I use for my weekly planning system. It’s quick & simple!
So what do I do on a yearly basis?
- I print checklists & calendars for the entire year. These are stored in a file folder, in my desk.
- Print (or organize) any worksheets/supplemental sheets that my children will need throughout the year. I use BJU for core subjects and they offer many supplemental worksheets. I may not use every one, but they are all stored neatly. I also plan to use the printable sheets for Story of the World, so I will print these in advance. (This system is somewhat different for each girl, so I will do a follow-up post with my school work organization.)
- Compose a supply list that contains all the necessary supplies, as well as what worksheets need to accompany what lesson. (If this is not already available in a teacher’s manual.)
- I organize all of our manipulatives.
- Fill out my monthly calendars with dates that are already firm. For example, we usually set our co-op classes a year in advance so these are easy to add. I also include holidays and school breaks, as well as vacation plans.
- Complete any plans, as well as print any worksheets, for curriculum I am writing on my own.
- Organize our schoolroom.
So that’s really it…..That’s my planning method!
Maybe it looks like pure madness to you. If so, there are many amazing planners out there. Donna Young has great planners for every type of situation, and she was my go-to resource when I was a lesson plan kind of gal. I am updating all of my forms now, but I plan to offer those as a FREE printable in the next week or so. I just wanted to throw out a little hope to any moms that is over lesson planning like I was. Hopefully these tips add some ease into your day. I love to hear from you guys so please let me know in the comments what your planning looks like!