I have a confession to make…
I am a planner! Planning is my thing; I love planners and I love pens and pencils and I love highlighters. Oh, the possibilities. I love the feeling of a well-planned event coming together perfectly. I have even been known to plan vacations that I know we aren’t going to take 😉 In case you haven’t figured it out, I love everything to do with planning…
And it almost destroyed our home school.
It turns out you cannot perfectly plan your day – months, weeks, or even days ahead. Especially, when you have children with varying special needs. Things are always going to come up: appointments, field trips, illness or even just a difficult day.
This was causing me so much stress. I felt angry and frustrated almost every day and of course the kids felt it too. I had worked so hard at planning the perfect year and life was ruining that for me. Even though I loved having my kids at home with me I found myself longing for the days they were public school. My perfect planning was destroying our joy!
It was time I Broke up with my Planner!
One day while I was praying, I cried out to God; this was not how it was supposed to be! Homeschooling was supposed to bring us closer as a family not farther apart. I felt God saying that there had to be another way. There had to be a way that we could still get our work done, but not be a slave to my planner.
The method I use now has grown out of my need to plan and make sure we are learning what we are supposed to be learning, but also making sure we had enough wiggle room to take days off when necessary.
I divide my year into 3 terms. For us its September-November, December-February, and March-May. We home school through a DL School in BC, so what we learn is already decided for us. At first, I use the ‘Yearly Overview’ printable and for each subject I write what I want each child to study during each term and what materials, books and curriculum I plan to use.
Yearly Planning Sheet
Then I move on to the ‘Term Schedule’ sheet and I very explicitly write out what will be done for each subject for each child. If they have a text book I include chapters and page numbers, if there are questions at the end of the chapter I write down which questions I want them to do. I include books I want them to read and videos I want them to watch. Then I very clearly explain any assignments I want my child to do for that subject and when I expect them to be completed.
Now I must confess, I do this one term at a time. I never know when inspiration will hit me for a fun learning project, so usually I end up redoing everything again anyway. After learning the hard way a couple of times, I now plan each term a couple of weeks before the term starts.
Term Schedule Planning Sheet
Download your planning sheets below! You can print them out and write on them but I also made them fillable for those of you who are trying to use less paper.
This is where I stop for my kids grade 7 and up. They are required to look at their assignments and figure out how much they should do each week to be done by the end of the term. It’s great practice for high school and even for post secondary education for them to learn this now. For grades 5 and 6, my kids and I figure out a schedule together, so they can learn which planning style works best for them. I want my kids to be prepared for the 7th grade when they have to do it by themselves.
For my children in the elementary years, I plan their days using the spiral notebook method. This is by far the easiest method for me. It just takes a few minutes and I never have to do any unnecessary planning. Most of my older kids use a variation of this method too. It’s just so easy to use!
Spiral Notebook Method
Here’s how it works. The first thing you need to do is figure out how much they need to accomplish each week to finished school when you want them to be. (I learned to be a bit sneaky in my planning and I now plan to be finished our school work about a month before I really want to. That way it’s not such a big deal if we take a day off here and there.) Then you grab any old notebook you can find, one for each child. I use a spiral bound notebook, because we got about a million one year when they were on sale 😉 The evening before I write exactly what I want each child to accomplish the next day. Remember to write the date somewhere on the page as well. I like to go back and see when did certain assignments.
Math – pages 21-23
Language Arts – Lesson 12
Science – Sink/Float Experiment
And so, on and so forth. Then as they accomplish each task we check it off. It helps me to keep them on track and it helps the kids to know when they are done with school for the day. It’s just that easy.
A word of caution though, make sure you write out the tasks for the next day the night before. If I write them that morning, I am way more optimistic about what they can get done in a day and everyone ends up frustrated with the day.