How I Plan: Part 1
I am often asked how I schedule out our homeschool year. I truly think everyone’s schedule is their own and should reflect their own thinking preferences, the types of learners their children are and what philosophy they follow with homeschooling. That being said, I do think seeing how other’s schedule can help us find our own way of doing things.
I come at my scheduling from a unique perspective and a strong sense of who I am as a person and mother:
- I am a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in Executive Functioning. So I utilize many of the tips and tricks I teach my clients.
- I am an energizer bunny much of the time – so I need a system that won’t eat time I’d rather be spending elsewhere. Because I know myself and I won’t see it through until the end if it does.
- I am spontaneous – friends are going to the zoo today? We can learn a lot at the zoo, so let’s go! My schedule needs to be as flexible as I am to sudden changes in our plans and routine
Knowing all of this about myself, I’m going to do a few posts on how I schedule our school year, our days, our curriculum and more.
I use this book every year. I fell in love with it when I worked in a clinic and was excited to use it again when I began homeschooling my kids. It’s *extremely costly* [insert sarcasm here] at $8. But, you can actually get it for free, every year. Yep, free! Sign up as an educator with Lakeshore Learning and, at the beginning of every school year, they send an ad with a coupon for this planner. It is free with a minimum purchase amount, which I never have a problem hitting. Stickers, posters, paint and glue get stocked up for the year and I nab my free planner! Click here to order the planner online.
Now let’s take a peek at why I like it and some of the other tools I use in planning my year…
The front of the planner is full of reproducible awards, student information, etc. I don’t really use any of that, so I just paper clip them together. That means I flip open to this page when I open my planner.
This page is one of my favorites, because it is my Year At A Glance. Here I lay out everything that switches each month and term. I make note of our our hymns, folk songs, composer and art studies, read alouds and audiobooks for those months. I like seeing the overall plan for the year. I also love this so I can peek ahead and make sure to request the books I need from the library in advance!
Next I collect my sticky notes. Now, I have a huge addiction to the sticky note. As in, drawers full all over my house. I have loved them since college. But these sticky notes are specifically for my planner because of their size (2″x2″) and the variety of colors. These are the ones I have purchased:
Why a variety of colors? Because I color coordinate them to the 7 categories I break our work down into… “Lemon” for literature, “Lime” for loops, “Magenta” for math. It’s how my brain works!
Now for the actually planning pages! I love the “freedom with structure” that each page provides. On the left side I write any co-ops, field trips or special activities we did within the day of the week box.
Across the top I break up the material and topics we cover into 7 categories – remember those 7 colors of sticky notes? The boxes are 2″ x 2″ – so my sticky notes fit PERFECT!
I write out what we need to cover each day on color coordinated sticky notes and place them in the appropriate boxes in the corresponding column. This helps me make sure certain days aren’t too overloaded and that I can fit it all in around co-ops and other outside trips and commitments. I can see it all at a glance!
Tip: I follow (loosely) Sonya Schafer’s Homeschooling Hack for laying out our days.
Side note: I have also seen families who give each member of the family a column, then all the colors of notes go in that person’s column. Again, “freedom with structure”!
Why Sticky Notes?
Plain and simple? Plans change. Opportunities arise. Bad days happen. And homeschooling gives us the freedom to seize opportunities. To respect each other’s needs. To take breaks.
Did Wednesday not happen? Pick up those sticky notes and move them to another day. Rearrange, stack a day a little heavier, or even do school on Saturday instead. With sticky notes, nothing is written in stone.. or pen. When I write something in a spot and it doesn’t happen? I feel ‘behind’. But behind who? This is our journey. Our story. Our life. We aren’t behind anyone. We are right where we need to be today.
So pick up that sticky note and move it to tomorrow. And know that baking with a sad little girl, or hiking with your disregulated young man, is exactly what school needed to look like today. The curriculum book will be waiting for you tomorrow.
And when we do accomplish that sticky note? I keep a tape runner [affiliate link] in my case and I glue the bottom part of the sticky note down. Then it won’t fall off and I don’t have to rewrite anything! Remember what I said about it not taking up my time?
Keep It Together
One last recommendation for you all. Keep your planner, and any tools you use, together. I love this Yoobi Document Organizer I picked up at Walmart .
It’s a zipper case that fits my planner perfect. It also has zipper pockets for my color coded sticky notes, slip in pockets for my pencils/pens/tape runners, and a handle for carrying it! It’s quite frustrating to not have everything you need when you have time to work on it – so keep it together in one spot!
I hope this helped give you an idea of just one way to plan out your year! Here are some links to other ways people plan out their year:
- Abiding Farmhouse: Anna Vance Paper Co Planner
- Pursuing Peace: DIY Homeschooler Planner
- Project Happy Home: Happy Planner
- Homeschool On: Bullet Journal Planner
Coming up soon I will post about daily schedules and our loops!