I chose my curriculum
I probably spent the most time on this step. I researched and read and researched again. Some of what we’re using is simply a continuation of what we used last year, but a few things are new to us. Of course, I’ll have fun things thrown in the mix from the Schoolhouse Crew Reviews. I finally made my decision, ordered my books, and was so excited with our lineup! You can see our list of curriculum for 2013-2014 here.
I chose how many weeks we would do school
We are going to plan for about 40 weeks of school for our upcoming year. I penciled in the weeks that I know we’ll want to take breaks (for holidays) and left a few floating weeks that we can use as a break week when we just have to have a break.
I divided up my curriculum by number of lessons
I looked through each curriculum and wrote down how many lessons were in each. Then I thought about how we would finish them in 40 weeks. I simply calculated how many lessons we would have to complete each week in order to finish each curriculum in 40 weeks. Some weeks I know we’ll do more than what we absolutely have to do and other weeks I know my kids will have trouble with a concept so we’ll need to slow our pace. But if I know we’ve done more than what we needed to complete on previous weeks, I won’t stress about the times we need to slow it down.
I set goals and objectives
I wrote down my goals for our first month. I also wrote down some long term goals both for myself and for my kids. That’s the extent of my long-term planning. I’m going to keep it simple by focusing on the big picture and not worry about which pages or lessons we’ll do each day.
I created a schedule
I type out a schedule in excel that has times in increments of 30 minutes. Then I made a column for each child (and for me). Then I put what each person would be doing at each time so that I made sure I had time with each child individually and we were getting to each subject each day. Each person has a color so that I can easily see who is doing what at any time of the day.
I made a read aloud schedule
Read alouds are very important at our house so I made a schedule to ensure that I would not fall behind on reading. I made a table with 40 weeks for each child. Then I put the read alouds in the table, choosing an order that would give us a variety of books each month, from picture books to chapter books. Now I can easily see which book we’re going to read next and I can order them or plan accordingly.
I made notebooks
I created a notebook for each subject for each child. I made cute binder covers and spines and then printed off any pages that we would need for the first month of school. Now I have everything I need for our first month in their notebooks. And when my kids complete a notebook page, I can immediately put it into their binder so we don’t have any loose papers. The binders also serve as a portfolio to showcase what we’ve learned through our year. They love showing Daddy all the work in their notebooks.
I created a homeschool log
I’m not writing out extensive lesson plans this year. Instead I’m keeping a log of what we do each day. I have a small journal and each day I write the date at the top. Then I write what each child competed, learned, or was challenged by that day. I have one color for each child (and one color for me). At the end of the week it’s fun to read back over my pages and see what we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come in a short time. It also helps me think ahead to the next weeks so I can see what we need to focus on in each subject. This log also helps me set new goals for each month.