Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lesson Plans and Schedules

There are many different approaches to lesson planning and record-keeping, and what the state or homeschool oversight group requires affects what we do. This is how I put it together.

I use an eclectic approach to curriculum, choosing from several different publishers, and tweaking or supplementing often. During the summer, I write out some notes and plans for any subjects in which I am making significant changes, or pulling together my own study using a spine such as Around the World in 180 Days.

Before the school year starts, I spend some time getting all the assignments entered in the Homeschool Tracker. I used the free version of the Tracker for a few years, but when my oldest was approaching high school, I thought it might be worth buying the premium edition of the Tracker and let me tell you - it has been! I actually enjoy keeping records on this program and it helps me to stay organized in areas where I would otherwise be drowning in post-it notes and scribbles. I use the Lesson Plans in the Teacher section, which means I don't have to reinvent the wheel every year. This is especially helpful as I'm entering assignments for Spencer, because they are in the system and I can reuse the same assignments for Landon and for Kennady without having to start from scratch. When moving the assignments from the Lesson Plans grid into the current school year calendar, the Tracker offers several options to help automatically spread the assignments over a semester or the entire year, saving me the trouble of counting days or weeks and trying to make it all fit. Once it's all in there, I just adjust as needed.

There are still aspects of our schedule for this year that I'm not sure of, but so far I'm planning that we'll do Science two days each week and the same with History/Social Studies.  The Music study and read-alouds are where I'm a little uncertain, but I'd like to do music three times a week to start the day.

For each kid I will print an assignment list from the Tracker every couple of weeks that lists their assignments and due dates.  IF they keep up with the due dates I give them, and IF nothing messes with our schedule (two VERY BIG IFs!) they should be finished everything by the end of May, and finished some subjects much earlier! That's a worthy goal, but realistically we know that stuff happens, and we won't be able to finish everything early.  As long as we finish on time (for final report cards), I'm satisfied.  At the beginning of the year, I help Landon and Kennady take a look at some of their books and figure out how many pages/lessons/chapters per day or per week they need to average in order to finish by their target date.  It usually works better to have them participate in setting the pace.  Not foolproof, but better.


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