There is a section of my bookshelf in which four years of lessons plans live. Why? I have not a clue. Perhaps I will look back on these longingly one day and remember the times we educated at home. Or perhaps my children will crack them open, inspect them, and then exclaim, “THIS is why I don’t know blah, blah,blah because it was never taught.”
Perhaps I should just toss those away right now, before more years of lesson plans can add up and fuel the fire of my adult children.
I have used many planners over the years and tried out many systems in hopes of keeping our schooling organized and streamlined.
I have purchased expensive planners, printed off Classical Conversations planners, inscribed the lessons on our school room’s white board, and scribbled down ideas on stray pieces of paper.
The thing that has worked the best and stuck with us the longest is the simple spiral notebook.
Yep…the handy little thing that one can find on the Target clearance aisles after the Back to School madness has settled down and all the homeschoolers begin to do their supply shopping.
Each day the children’s assignments are written down in checklist form. I do maintain a master lesson planner for my own sanity and record keeping. However, each child has their own notebook.
I write down their daily assignments, along with any chores or responsibilities they have to do that day.
Did you get that part? Their chores are written right beside “Math Lesson 62”. Gone are the “But I didn’t hear you say for me to make my bed” days because IT IS WRITTEN DOWN and YOU CAN BOTH READ!
Then the children simply dive into work.
(Ha! This sounds as if they are merrily humming tunes from The Sound of Music and being wonderful, pleasant people 100% of the time. They ARE pleasant people…but some days there is a whole lot of grumbling when they look at those notebooks. Just want to keep it real, in case you think we are all Merry Sunshine and Roses over here.)
Some of their homeschooling is independent work while other of it is group time or one on one time with me. If something does not get done or if we need to push something to the next day, the child simply does not mark it off their checklist. Easy-peasy. Also, there is no need for me to continuously tell someone to do something or inquire as to something’s completion. I can just glance at the notebook. (And hell hath no fury like a mama who spies a box checked that has not actually been completed. That has only been tried once and the child likely will never try it again. )
One child likes to get started FIRST thing (hello, 7:30am!) because she has realized the sooner she begins, the sooner she will finish and thus have all the play time in the world. The Homeschool Notebook allows for her to get a start on her day without me having to jump right in with her (I have to have breakfast cleaned up and a chore done before I can start my portion of the schooling. I just feel better when the house is tidy.)
If the lesson planning and record keeping side of homeschooling is making you feel like educating at home is not working anymore (*), get in the car, drive to Target, grab Starbucks (coffee heals all), and scoop up a pile of ten cent notebooks. Try this method for a few weeks and see if a bit of calm and organization are restored into your homeschooling.
If not, just drink more coffee.
(* There are some things that are true indications that homeschooling is not working and other options should be evaluated. Sometimes homeschooling does not work. And that is OKAY. )
(** Homeschool Notebook is something I love to share with homeschool groups and communities. Please see my speaking engagements page for more details!)