Planning My Homeschool Year 2014/2015
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I was already planning out our homeschool year back in June... When other families were gearing down and getting ready for summer, I was gearing up and getting myself as organized as humanly possible. I had many reasons for planning everything out ahead of time. Besides the fact that I am a planner, I also needed to get my head wrapped around what I had gotten myself into with homeschooling. I know, I know, Buttons is only in Kindergarten. There isn't a lot of pressure yet. But I am not satisfied by doing a mediocre job at anything I do, especially if it involves my kids.
So even before June, I was roaming around Pinterest looking for the tools I would need to get organized and put everything on paper. I looked through lots of different planners and printables. I read through lots of blog posts. I was ready to get started.
I had planned on creating my own planners and templates to suit what I needed, but I was lucky enough to find exactly what I needed already created by other homeschool moms and offered for free. It saved me so much time! Plus, the printables I found for planning out the year made things so easy for me. It's because of those sheets that I was able to visualize what our year would look like!
I am sure as time goes on, and I start to see the unique needs of my family, I will start creating my own planners. But in the meantime, having free printables created by other creatives has been a real blessing! I am all about spreading the love so I'm going to share what I've been using because it might help you too!
Planning the Year
Yes, planning the year. It's not as daunting as it sounds, really! Especially if you use these tools from Only Passionate Curiosity.
Before I explain what I do, I should mention that I always use a pencil. Life calls for pencil.
First, I used the "Yearly Schedule" to map out the year. I crossed off weekends, marked down holidays and other random days I knew we would take off (like the weeks around Christmas), and then I numbered the weeks. Our school year would have 38 weeks.
Next, I used the "Yearly Brainstorming" sheet. I took each curriculum book and wrote down how many lessons it contains. Then I was able to divide the lessons through the months of September 2014 to May 2015. This showed me a basic idea of how I should pace our lessons in order to complete all the curriculum.
It's important to note that I used my Yearly Schedule to see how many weeks/days we would be doing school each month. For December, we would only being doing school for 2 weeks so I decreased the number of lessons. For months with more weeks and less holidays, I planned out more lessons. By doing this, I was able to get a really good picture of how much we should do each week.
Even though I only planned out September to May, I do intend to continue school through June and even do a little bit of work through the summer. This gives me a lot of margin; if we can't keep up with the pace, we can very easily slow down and stretch out certain lessons. I believe it is very important to allow your child to lead the pace. If you go too slow, you risk your child becoming bored; if you go too quickly, you risk your child getting confused and overwhelmed. You and your child need to work together to find the pace that works for each subject!
For a weekly planner, I LOVE these ones by Lawteedah. They are a good, basic template with as much room as I need. Plus, they are super cute! I picked out the two patterns I like the most and printed off as many as I need for the year. No, you don't need to have "pretty" planners, but it sure does make planning a little bit more fun, don't you think?
Since I already planned out my pacing, all I need to do each week is add that info, with a bit more detail, to my weekly planner.
At the top of the planner, I fill in the date and I write which week number it is. Then, in the section for "This Week's Goals" I write in which lessons I had planned to accomplish for that week. For example, "Math U See - Lessons 1 & 2."
When I get to the main planner section, I write in the subject areas on the left. Then, using the weekly goals from above, I jot down which lessons I plan to do on which days. For example, Math: Monday - Lesson 1; Wednesday - Lesson 2; Friday - Review.
The only curriculum that takes a bit more time than that to plan is "Come Sit by Me" which is a Unity Study curriculum. I know which book I will be covering each week, but when I do my weekly planner, I sit down with the teacher's guide and choose the specific activities I want to cover.
Most important of all, in my opinion, is leaving room on your schedule for fun! Play, go to the library, go on a field trip, do some baking, play dress-up... it all counts as learning! So make sure you don't fill your weekly planner too full of workbooks or you'll miss out on all the good stuff that comes with living life :)