As we get closer to the start of our first homeschool year, I’m finding a lot of information online about organizing. I see posts of countless variations of printable calendars and every kind of imaginable record keeping list. I see many homeschool bloggers sharing their week by week (and sometimes day by day) plan for each subject for each student for the entire year. I’ve even seen daily calendars showing a time slot for each subject! One part of me would love to be that organized one day but it also makes my head spin bit.
One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that we can customize our approach to fit the needs of our children and our family as a whole. For now we’re going to take a more laid back approach for organizing and planning. I can’t imagine planning out a whole year other than to say we’ll complete the curriculum we’ve chosen. Even that is difficult to say, because we may go faster or slower than we originally plan. I don’t see any reason to go through the trouble of planning each day for the next school year when it may very well change. Here is our game plan…for now.
I printed out a few copies of a blank weekly calendar with a list of subjects down the left column and the days across the top. I choose to print only a few weeks because once we start I may find that the format isn’t working. If that happens, I’ll make or find something new. We will be doing Sonlight Core P4/5. The Instructor’s Guide that comes with it is laid out with weekly schedules and notes for the reading. Of course we can customize as needed but I like that there’s very little prep work for the parents. We will take some time over the weekend to look at the week ahead and gather the books needed and any supplies for the activities. Sonlight is the first row on my weekly calendar. Some people go as far as retyping the Instructor’s Guide into their own schedule but I don’t see the need for that at this point. I listed it though to give me some extra room to make notes.
For the other rows, I have Math, Reading, Handwriting and Activities. For Math we’re doing Horizons K. It has 160 lessons designed for one lesson a day. Our plan is to complete one lesson a day. If we get behind I plan on catching up over the weekends or when we can. I don’t want to push her too hard to complete a lesson if for some reason it’s just not working one day but I don’t want to be so relaxed that we end up way behind. This math program comes with some great manipulatives. She calls them math toys and can’t wait to play with them.
We’re also using All About Reading 1. It only has 50 lessons. Their website recommends doing 20 minutes a day and stopping wherever you are in the lesson. We’re going to use this row in our weekly planner as a way to note what we did rather than what we’re planning to do. I won’t really know how far we’ll get until we’re actually doing the lesson.
For handwriting we’re using Peterson Directed Handwriting. It has 30 specific lessons used over six weeks. After that it’s pretty vague. I’ve read the instructions and it seems to be a go at your own pace type program after the initial lessons. I’m planning on sticking with the 30 lessons but we may work through them a bit faster. It starts at a point that may be too easy for her. I’ll definitely have to put more thought into how to proceed after the first 6 weeks.
I listed a row for activities to give us a place to keep track of extracurricular activities, co-op classes and field trips. Right now she’s taking swimming lessons and she’s looking forward to taking a gymnastics class. Piano is another activity that we want to look into this year. Las Vegas has a huge homeschool community with many activities. We’ve gone to a few events this summer and I’m sure we’ll continue throughout the school year. One group is starting a nature field trip twice a month that we’re hoping to attend regularly. This will be the place to note all of this extra stuff.
I have a few other documents used for planning. I’m using a chart to note the details of organized group field trips and one document for any co-op classes she may take. I also have a list for books I’d like for us to read. Anytime I come across book suggestion I want to look into I can easy list it here. Last but not least, I have a simple calendar for attendance.
I’m keeping the Sonlight Instructor’s Guide, the future worksheets and the master copies of all the worksheets in one binder. The weekly calendars, co-classes, field trips, reading list and attendance documents will be in another binder. I’ll also put all completed work in this binder. Our homeschool area is actually our loft but I can see us spending a lot of time on the couch downstairs for reading. I’m planning to put the week’s schedule from Sonlight, my week’s schedule and any worksheets for the day on a clipboard so it’s easy to see exactly what we’re doing that one day. It will also be easier to carry around the house.
None of this documentation is required in Nevada. I think it’s a good idea to have it in place though should we move or the laws change where we live. So, this is where we’ll start with organizing but I’m sure some things will change as we dive in.