Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Homeschool 101 - Planning the School Year #5daysofhomeschool101

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Homeschool 101 - Planning the School Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - Day 2 of the Homeschool 101 blog hop hosted by the Schoolhouse Review Crew focuses on planning. This is a quick description of how I plan out my school year, and the resources I use.

Okay, we've chosen our curriculum for the upcoming homeschool year, so now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of lesson planning! I enjoy this job, even though I'm not usually one for detailed plans and schedules. I do like to have a list of things to do, so I don't forget, and so that I have a box to check off as I complete things. Here's my simple how-to for lesson planning.

Gather the schoolbooks, the calendar, paper and pencil, and the computer.

How many lessons or chapters per week/day?
Many times the curriculum will already have suggested scheduling provided. For example, Notgrass Exploring World History has thirty units with five lessons each, so it's perfectly suited for a lesson each weekday for thirty weeks. Other texts are not quite so straightforward, but at least I can look at how many lessons or chapters there are to cover and then decide how to spread that out over a semester or school year. I go the old-fashioned route to start with and work with paper and pencil to sketch out a general plan of how to spread out the schoolwork over the year, so that we know in general how many pages/lessons/chapters of each subject to cover in an average week.

Which days are school days? How many will we have?
I block out things like vacation and Christmas break on the calendar, at least as much as I know now, and then mark out thirty-six school weeks. Some years we've started our school year near the beginning of August, and other years we start in September, which we'll do this year. We aim to be mostly finished by the end of May, but usually I spread out some things like math even more. And in reality, most summers are a little like this one has been - finishing up a subject or two that should have been finished much earlier, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. I also note our outside classes and co-ops so I can plan the school calendar around those. We have gym class on Tuesday afternoons and choir on Tuesday evening, so there's only time for a little bit of other schoolwork in the morning. Guitar lessons have been on Monday afternoons, so I need to leave some space for those as well. I use the Google calendar for all our family's activities and appointments anyway, so the vacation days are already there, and it's a simple matter to add the gym class and those types of repeating things.

Put the lesson plan info into the Homeschool Tracker. Start assigning lessons.
Once I have a general outline, I turn my attention to my favorite homeschool planning tool, Homeschool Tracker Online. I use this fantastic program to keep track of lesson plans, assignments, due dates, time spent, resource lists, and more. It's also my record of grades and credits, so I could produce my own report cards and transcripts if needed. Since it's capable of saving entire lesson plans, I already have some of that done, having done the hard work of entering the lesson plans for the Notgrass courses several years ago. For this year, I still have Science and Math lesson plans to finish adding to the lesson planning program. After the lesson plans are entered, they can be assigned to my student as needed. I generally assign about a month's worth of lessons at a time, and print the assignment lists for Kennady to check off as she completes them. It's easy to reschedule anything we need to if we are moving faster or slower than anticipated, or decide not to do a particular lesson for some reason.
(Read my full review of Homeschool Tracker Online hereHomeschool Tracker Online: A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

Homeschool Tracker Online - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review on kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Other lesson planners and school calendar tools you may find useful are those on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. In addition to the huge library of curriculum resources, the Resources for Members section contains the downloadable Hey Mama! Planner.


For those that like to do all their planning on paper, I highly recommend The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia. This 52-week homeschool planner was designed by best-selling homeschool author Debra Bell, and has calendars, planning and record-keeping pages, and guidance on how to plan and pray and use the planner.  
(Read my full review of this planner here: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner - A Schoolhouse Crew Review)
Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

What's your method for planning out your school year? Leave a comment letting me know; then continue hopping through the rest of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thoughts on curriculum in Day 2 of 5 Days of Homeschool 101.

5 Days of Homeschool 101

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Lori said...

Simple and straightforward. My kind of advice! I appreciate your perspective. - Lori

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