I haven’t written about homeschooling in this space in quite a while and part of that is because I write about it elsewhere so often and I speak about it often and well, I don’t want to be tedious. I also have a desire to protect the privacy of my kids who are getting older now and don’t necessarily want all their business aired here or anywhere else.
My planning, however, is my story to tell and I love playing around with paper and pens and making the planning of our homeschool really serve our whole family. When I’ve planned well and prepped fully our days run smoothly and we are all much happier. When I fly by the seat of my pants I’m stressed and so are the children. Dad comes home to unhappy people and that creates even more tension. It’s best, at least for me, to work a few hours a week at executing my vision of how our homeschool should be and how I can best serve my children by providing as excellent an education as I can. I usually do this on Friday afternoon but to be honest it does happen on Sunday afternoon pretty often.
My kids are enrolled with Seton Home Study School, which gives an excellent jumping off point for our homeschool. I know everything that needs to be covered is included and I use the lesson plans to guide our way and provide a good foundation. As a working mom this helps give me peace of mind. That being said I don’t dot every “i” and cross every “t”. The lesson plans are to serve me not to be a master of our homeschool, therefore I take what I like and I add what best suits my students, our schedule, their interests and our family life. A rail to run on is good but I’m not interested in being on a non-stop train.
Each child has their own page on the Seton website (password protected) where they can upload work, take tests and ask questions of a counselor. For high school students there is also a student moderated forum called Catholic Harbor where they can safely find community. My high school students use this as their planning system, both of them are digital people rather than paper people (Sigh) and this works well for them, with my supervision.
I use the Erin Condren Teacher Planner (that is an affiliate link, if you place your first order through that link you will receive $10 off) to keep up with the work of the younger three students. This is my third year in this planner and it has served us both beautifully and functionally. Since the planner is set up for teachers in a classroom and not homeschool it took a friend to show me how to creatively use it for our small school Jennifer Mackintosh is a great inspiration for planning and she has a YouTube video that takes you step by step how she arranges her planner to work in her homeschool. I use many of the same methods, inspired by her.
This is the monthly view, September which was a slowish month and February which has yet to be filled out. I use this space for recording the big picture of the month. Outside classes, field trip, online classes days off, things that affect the whole of our day/week/month.
Since the teacher planner is not religious I use my Catholic Daily Planner to find any feast days or other liturgical observances to record in the teacher planner. This lets me plan ahead to include Mass, special novenas, food and possible crafting. If I don’t make a plan for these types of things they don’t happen and I like for these things to happen. If I teach them all the math and grammar but neglect our faith I’ve accomplished nothing.
The actual nitty gritty planning happens on these pages which are dated. This is a new feature, previously they were undated and I’m happy with the update. I took this photo while I was planning this week and you can see I color code the kids (Brendan is blue, Bridget is pink and Sean is orange) and then they use a highlighter as they complete an assignment. I use the post-it notes to plan out some extra study or fun add-ins and then when I’ve solidified the plan I’ll write it in that column. I usually bring this planner and a notebook with me to the library so I can pull any resources from there and not have to remember. Sometimes I’m a genius and take a picture of the page with my phone but mostly I just toss it in the library tote. I’m an obsessive note taker.
One little hack that I made for these pages in the back of the planner is to set out a list of goals for each child and myself so as to ensure a wider education experience. The pages are set up as a student checklist and I just put a few stickers over those headings and made my own list. These are things that are covered by morning basket time, read-a-louds, documentaries and exploring the natural world. For me, this is just as important as regular studies because it helps to make our homeschool more beautiful, and as a Catholic beauty should always be a goal, it helps to make their education richer and it makes for a more rounded person. Creativity, beauty, and exploration are an important part of a well lived life.
I highly suggest your checking out Jennifer’s You Tube video to see how she has set up her teacher planner.
If you would like to know more about lesson planning and the lovely ladies who have inspired me please look at the webinars hosted by Homeschool Connections dedicated to the subject. I had the privilege to host these for a few years and, even as old as I am and as long as I’ve been at this, I’ve always learned something new and valuable from these dear friends.
Seasonal Homeschooling, Cultivating a Gentle, Grateful Year – Dawn Hanigan
Stewarding the Gift of Time – Jennifer Mackintosh
I’d love to hear your homeschool planning process!
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