Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm feeling like some sort of slacker

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!

April E.


  1. April, I'm moving more toward your method every year. I've been kind of nervous because I haven't done hardly any "planning" yet. But I've got all the curriculum. All I really need to do is sit down with a few of the new things we're using and see how much I should try to schedule per day. I don't do long range specific plans either because they just end of changed.

  2. Yay!! Another "slacker" :lol: !

    Last year I tried to use and keep up with a planner but by the 3rd month ... or ... week, I gave up.

    Maybe we didn't school one day one week or we took an impromptu field trip that had NOTHING to do with school another week. Then I had to erase and rewrite ... then eventually throw away the planner because it was more frustration than necessary!

    This year I looked at online planners and thought they might be useful but then I realised I would be spending money for nothing since I would just give it up anyway. Having to live by a planner just doesn't work for us.

    I figure, as long as they are doing their basics each and every day (3 Rs and then some), they'll be fine! We also are using TOG this year and I make quick notes on books I need each week and which projects we'll do along with all the materials needed. Other than that, we just learn and ... have fun doing it!

    Thank you for posting this, though. It made me feel better that I don't make made in stone plans :).

    ~ Kristal ~

  3. I once got the Homeschool Tracker software to use, but decided keeping hand-written charts was just easier for me. Especially at the time I first looked, when my kids were working together on unit studies most of the time and I only needed one or two charts per week. Even now, I can't stand the thought of having to click in and out of each child's file to update this and that every week.

  4. I don't plan meals, either. After 16+ years of marriage and almost 15 years of parenthood ... that isn't an organizational skill I've ever been successful with.

  5. Well, call me a slacker, too. Unlike other years, I am flying by the seat of my pants as we start the year. Of course, it helps that we have some curriculum that needs to be completed before new stuff is begun.

  6. I agree with you completely. That's about the exact same way I organize. And you are right, we all have to find what works for our individual families, not compare with others, and stick with it. Thanks for sharing. :)


  7. You have a plan that works for you so that is great!

  8. Stopping by from the blog walk!

    Obviously I am a slacker because I am just now getting around to the blog walk.

  9. I think it sounds like you do plenty of planning, April! School just becomes a science after awhile - you get so used to doing it that it doesn't require a ton of planning. :) I'm just hyper about paperwork, which is what prompts most of my plans. LOL

  10. Nope ... I'm the slacker who hasn't even posted the blog walk at all!

  11. I enjoyed this post! I can't organize everything too specifically, because I am such a perfectionist that if I don't do everything perfectly I am likely to abandon homeschooling altogether and just decide that we need to become gypsies. :) OK, maybe not THAT extreme. But close. I wish I were more organized...but somehow we manage. It sounds like you have it figured out, and it works for you. I think that's all that matters!

  12. This is such a source of encouragement, April! Thanks for posting it! I NEEDED IT!

    I'm giving you the Sunshine Award for making me bright today! Thanks again!


  13. April, I also am quite a slacker.

    I will say that I DID figure out the books I would need for the first 6 weeks of Tapestry of Grace and send my ILL requests to the local librarian and then request online the ones I will need next week which are available within my county library system. I DID get out all the kids' schoolbooks today and lay them out and take photos of them and blog about our plans, but really I only write up what we do a day or two before . . . or as we are DOING them! ;)

    Oh, and I have a couple of curricula I really still have to read through the teacher's manuals before we start (next week!)--one of those was Story Starters, though, so thanks for reviewing that one for me! Less for me to think through this evening. ;)


I love to hear from you. Thanks for your comment!