I have tried buying each child a planner. The trouble is MY short attention span. I get tired of writing in repeat lesson plans: math, writing…. I tried putting them in charge of it but really the results were the same. Somewhere along the way they quit writing it down. I also found I was frustrated with not really knowing how much we got done. I could see how far we’ve come with the math book, or another curriculum book but what about rabbit trails? no one wrote those down. some days that we had spent learning more than an average school day went unrecorded. no one recorded extra reading. I felt frustrated and like I wasn’t doing enough. I know I’m not alone, I hear this from homeschool moms everywhere. Tons of blog posts written on this very subject! This is how I handled several things at once:
- are we getting enough done?
- keep accurate school records
- life skill- keeping your own schedule- using a planner
- schedule living books- because we like them better than textbooks some of the time.
- stay on track
I began with a friend’s plan for keeping track of high school.
downloadable version here: plan record keeping daily check off
I listed things I wanted them to complete. I had no thoughts of them completing everything every day, but checking off which things got accomplished, recording Math Lesson 12B (we use Math U See) or writing lesson #4…
They also has places to check off chores, instrument practice, and duel enrolled classes. This worked well. It was good. We printed 3 or 4 sheets at a time, they filled in some of them. We put them in our portfolio records books. This accomplished some of my goals: 2- sort of, 3- sort of, 5- it was a good reminder to keep on track.
When my kids wanted more living books courses we tried this:
and it breaks down like this…my son was taking:
NOTGRASS American History- I scheduled the 30 lessons out over our 36 weeks. The next line for Literature schedules the Literature that goes along with this. The idea here is to schedule out Book x has 300 pages to be read in 2 weeks so each square can be filled in with the 30 page section of the book to read. If a day was missed it can either be made up, or recalculate how many pages to read for the remaining days. As a reminder I noted the progress each week for the writing assignment. In week 27 Notgrass schedules a research paper so I added an area for that (and a research paper book A Rookie’s Guide to Research by Barbary Mills and Mary Stiles) (writing and literature were covered with this curriculum)
MATH was something we swapped a couple of time before he found a curriculum he liked. (we’ve had trouble choosing upper level math) but he just recorded what lesson. I don’t schedule math because we don’t move on until they ‘get’ it and don’t dwell on the stuff they do get, so it was easy for him to record which lesson he did. Even if he misses several days or weeks in recording you can see that he is progressing to new lessons)
DUEL ENROLLMENT and EXTRA ACTIVITIES: He is duel enrolled at the local school for Ag, Spanish, and Band. There is a place to keep track of them if he wants- but I’m not required to keep records on that ;). This would be more of the life skills variety. I also keep track of Boy Scouts here- he can make notes on things he needs to complete at home.
This is what it looks like ONE WEEK AT A TIME: At the top I note ONLY the week scheduled.
Our schedule is flexible. I’ve informed them that to get through 18 week BEFORE Christmas break will require working a full week’s lesson the week of Christmas- if they choose they can push that week until after Christmas (just adjust the week at top- no redoing the whole planner!) but that means the school year will last one week longer into the spring- they all chose to keep up.
- SPECIAL NOTE on keeping up! just like making up a sick day in public school you have times you will do more than a day’s lessons. This works the same. They want to take a day off? They got behind?… they simply complete the required day(s) work and check it off. neat huh?
DAILY SCHEDULING AND HOLIDAYS: The very top line I note things scheduled on our calendar. First thing I learned is that I need to fill that in FIRST. I schedule right over holidays before I put the in. Second- I kept is small because I wanted the flexibility of moving the weeks around. After using this, however, I found that they really keep up (see above special note) and if I made that space bigger They would be able to add to their life skills by recording other things in their schedules. My calendar portion also included the local school schedule because of dual enrollment classes.
FLEXIBILITY: It is built in.
- I only schedule a 4 day week. Fridays are scheduled as notebooking days. notebooking, catch-up, or swap this out for a day we spent chasing a rabbit down a hole, a day spent working on the farm/yard/house, field trips, friend days, illness….whatever.
- it is on copy paper. write in it! cross off lesson x, add in y, write down which math lesson you did. Change the curriculum completely and schedule it or write it in as you go. It’s a planner, it is just partially filled in and planned out.
I PRINTED IT. I want to a print shop and had each of my kids’ schedules like this printed and coil bound. This allowed them to open it to the week they were working on so that they could check off assignments. The one thing I would change is that I would add the child’s name on the top of each page because with 4 of these schedules lying around the house open- I have to flip through or check course schedule to decide where this book belonged.
BONUS!!! This is the bonus I never expected. This is my favorite part and I didn’t even know it was going to happen! I spent some time putting these together for each child. I picked out things for them and what put as much in as I thought they could handle- each child and each grade level being different. And you know what- if we could check everything off I had so meticulously planned- I let them go. If it was 10 am or 12pm or 4pm- when it was all checked off- I let them go. I wasn’t the nagging mom! They spent time baking cookies (really they did!) We had less stress. I was more confident in what we were accomplishing- even if they finished by 10 am! I wasn’t trying to add one more thing every day and they were more receptive to ‘hey, do you want to watch How the States Got Their Shapes on Netflix with me?’ It works for us. Maybe it can help another family too. 🙂
**I make no guarantees of any credits, benchmarks, grade level or any common core standards with the ideas I share.
UPDATE! Since publishing this, I have found another simple method. This system is working for us, but maybe not quite right for you, I think this one looks like it is full of great ideas too! Homeschool-your-boys.com has a post My Super Simple Homeschool Planning. check it out! ** don’t forget- there isn’t a right and wrong way to homeschool- find what works for you. for your family. in your home.
Also, a friend designed this system. Had I not already developed a system that was working for us, I’d definitely start here. I love this! Frustrated Perfectionist.
Let me know what works for you!