I keep seeing blog posts and homeschool newsletter articles about all these other homeschool Moms and how they plan and organize for their school year. I start to think I should blog about something organizational, too. Then, I look around and realize I don't really have anything great to share about organizing for homeschool.
For me, organizing for the year starts with sitting down with my calendar. I look at a possible start date, then count forward 36 weeks, skipping weeks I know we'll be taking off, and figure out what our projected end date would be. If that looks like it's too early, or too late for my preferences, I adjust the start date. This year, I didn't want to start school on August 9 on the hottest week of our summer so far. But, I'll basically be taking October off, to adjust to the new baby, and I'd really prefer not to be still finishing our year when July rolls around. So, August 9 was the date.
The next step is to figure out my curriculum. At this point in time, after homeschooling for 11 or 12 years (including preschool for my oldest), that's not too difficult. We have our main curriculum already, and we didn't really need lots of extra stuff this year. I need to order some handwriting workbooks, and I'll continue to watch for history and literature books to use with our Tapestry of Grace curriculum. But I didn't have to choose anything new. In fact, several of our children actually ended the last school year in the middle of their math and grammar texts, so we're just picking up where we left off at the moment.
I don't spend a lot of time making detailed lesson plans in advance. For one thing, sickness, Crew reviews, or family emergencies will likely pop up that change all those lesson plans, anyway. We just proceed through our lessons at a steady pace. Tapestry of Grace is laid out with weekly plans, the kids aim to do a math and grammar lesson each day, and we try to keep the older girls on pace to complete a module of science in 2 weeks.
I try to spend time each weekend filling out assignment charts for the children. This includes their Tapestry of Grace reading assignments, their daily textbook lessons, and any supplemental materials I want them to use that week. Some weeks, I confess I'm filling those in on Monday morning while the kids eat breakfast. The children and I mark off their work as they complete it, and make any changes to the plan as the week goes on. We save these as a record of the work we accomplished.
In the past, I've created detailed planners for myself, but they just don't get used after a few weeks of school. The individual assignment charts, completed weekly and saved in notebooks works best for us. I do keep an attendance chart going, to track the days we accomplish school. Sometimes I only give credit for half a day's work, and some family outings on the weekend can count as a school day if they're educational field trips.
Long-range planning for me isn't planning out the entire school year as much as it is looking at where my kids are currently, and where they need to be to graduate. Are they on pace? Do we need to concentrate harder on a certain area? What courses will my high school student still need to cover before graduation? How hard do we need to push?
At times, it feels like my method of school planning isn't "good enough" compared to other homeschool families. But it works for us, and it has been working for many years. I guess that's one organizational tip I do have: find what level of planning and what method of organization works best for you. Once you find a method that works ... stick with it!