When I first decided to homeschool, I knew there were things I should do. I wasn’t sure what they were, exactly, but I was certain there were things. I know from experience that teachers spend months lesson planning, so I assumed I’d need to do the same; whether I’m teaching one child or 35, don’t they all need to learn the same things? Yes, of course! So, that’s what I decided to do: my first year, I’d spend every.waking.minute lesson planning!
Great plan, right? Nothing would be left out! I would do ALLTHETHINGS. I would make sure my one child had an identical education to the 35 classmates she’d have in public school. After all, this is school-at-home, right…?
If you’ve managed to not chuckle so far, you can go ahead and let it out. We all know how wrong I was. Very, very wrong. As it turned out, what I needed to do was, well, the opposite of my earliest plan.
Homeschooling does not have to look like school-at-home. It can look like whatever you and your children need it to. I really wish someone had told me that! I felt like I was the biggest failure at replicating the classroom environment at home: how was my 8-year-old supposed to work in a peer group if she isn’t a quadruplet? Man oh man…I can’t go back in time and give her these siblings! Now what?!
What’s when I found my sweet spot.
Mama found her groove.
(I’m sorry, I know that was cheesy and terrible. I’m not sorry about saying it, because it’s who I truly am, but I’m sorry you had to hear it!)
There are 3 things I need to do to get my stuff together and my school year going.
When I was in the Navy, they always said “fail to plan, plan to fail.” It’s true. If you’re not a planner, this is hard to hear, but it’s true. Here’s how I plan:
- Look at the calendar: First, I block off dates I know we won’t have school. We take off for all family member’s birthdays, major holidays, fun holidays (Like May 4th, Star Wars Day), and breaks. We school mostly year-round, so it’s important to take a week or so off each month.
- I use this planner I shared with you earlier for my own planning as well!
- Check out state standards: I’m required to teach at least to common core state standards in my state, so I research those. (How I feel about the standards is irrelevant.) I make a list of topics we will cover, and then what we’ll cover first. Sometimes, it makes sense to go in a certain order, and other times, we can deviate a little and change things up.
- Add in fun stuff: Learning should not be boring! If my kids are learning about writing, why can’t they write about the adventures of Pikachu? They totally can. So, I make sure my assignments are interesting and encouraging.
- From there, I need a general overview and schedule (what we want to cover and how often per week). I’ll track books, curricula, and resources I want to use as well as individual sports, clubs, groups, etc and what that commitment entails
estimated times for each subject OR how many weeks I want to dedicate to a topic (again, just a rough guide)
I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I believe in numbered, not dated plans.
Life happens, illness happens, sometimes new opportunities come up we want to be able to take advantage of, or my child’s pace might be faster or slower than I planned. It’s easier to move a numbered “History lesson 84” wherever we need it rather than a dated “History January 22” that requires erasing, re-writing, or rescheduling all the days following it.
- When long-term planning, I just have lesson numbers.
- When short-term planning (weekly), I list based on days of the week.
- If you review my core classes like ELA, Math, Science, History, Executive Functions, you’ll noticed they’re dated week-by-week. I follow the same method for my online classes; kids get sick, I get sick, hurricanes and tornado’s happen (rarely!)
At the end of the day, I am a planner. I need a plan. Detailed or super simple, a plan keeps us on task and helps the kids and I to meet our goals each year. Please share how you plan!