Okay, so as far as homeschooling goes, I still don’t have enough years under my belt to be an expert. But if there’s one thing I KNOW how to do – I know how to plan!

Oh yes, I am a planner to the core. I plan in advance, I plan in detail. I plan with great glee and giddiness.

I’m sure there’s a 12 step program out there for me somewhere.

I digress.

For the last week or so I’ve been planning and preparing for our upcoming school year. Over the summer I’ve collected our curriculum and now (with only 2 minor things still to obtain) it was time to make a plan of attack (there’s that P word again!)

Step 1: Plan a school year.

First you must remember that although I am a planner, I am NOT a 100% follow-through-er to the T. I plan everything (except my wedding, ahem) with a certain amount of room for flexibility and, er, laziness, to occur. In other words – I plan for structure. Not strictness. Which means if I get somewhere and need to switch some weeks around, I’ll do it!

We’ve tried several approaches over the last five years (five, really?!) and we’ve found what works best for us is an all-year approach. As a result, we get to take more frequent breaks and it works out to about a week a month with 2 weeks for Christmas vacation, 2 weeks for spring break, and 3 weeks for Summer vacation.

So my first task was to sit down with my calendar and plot all those breaks out to make sure that we end up with a decent sized school year. Our 35 week school year for 2008-2009 will look something like this:

My 2nd step was to create a spreadsheet for lesson planning.

I say lesson planning loosely. I don’t want to lesson plan specifically, too far in advance. But I also don’t want to get to the end of the year and find out we still have half a book left.

So I created an Excel spreadsheet with 35 weeks, each of our subjects, pages for both girls, and I got to it. Starting with one textbook at a time, I calculated the number of chapters or lessons to determine the minimum number of lessons we need to do each week to stay on track.

I went ahead and wrote them out for each week instead of just writing “3 lessons a week”, so that at any point in the year I can look and see what lesson we should be on by that point.

This is what I came up with:

The girls share the same book for history and good citizenship and are going through the same series in science, health and grammar (just on different levels) which I think will help the flow of the school day.

I hope. 🙂

The next task was to enter the information into my tracking software, Homeschool Tracker.

You might wonder why I didn’t do some of this in HS Tracker in the first place?

  1. I change my mind a lot and it’s easier to manipulate things around in iCalendar and Excel where cut and paste is your best friend.
  2. I can print these out and have hard copies to refer to – I like to have hard copies on hand.
  3. In Homeschool Tracker I can create detailed lesson plans for the upcoming week; I can’t really create the general week by week view that I’ve done here. But having this week by week plan will help me plan each day’s specific lessons at the beginning of the week.

So after I finished my calendars and spreadsheets I created the new school year in HS Tracker, complete with the scheduled breaks and then added all the textbooks into the resource list.

Planning ahead.

This year I am trying something new. We gave it a go a few weeks ago and we really liked it.

To prevent myself from wasting so much time each day pulling out worksheets and bookmarking chapters, etc, I sat down at the beginning of the week and assembled a 3-ring binder for each of the girls. Each has a divider for each day of the week. Anything that is a consumable page (like handwriting worksheets,) I tore out and added one for each day of the week. For everything else, I added a piece of notebook paper to the beginning of each section with instructions for each subject. For example, “Science: Read Chapter 2” and “History: Listen to mom read the lesson and work on lapbook together.”

It took a little bit of time on Sunday evening, but when I was finished, everything was ready to go for the whole week. I only needed to pull out those binders and the non-consumable textbooks each day and it saved us a ton of time. Also, the girls liked it, and it made the school day flow better.

Now that we’ve tried it, I plan on creating a second binder for both girls so that I don’t have to wait for them to finish one and then refill it again. I can work on the 2nd binder when I have time during the week and then rotate them out. I really think it is going to work well for us.

Grades and time spent will get recorded on the notebook paper for each day and then entered into Homeschool Tracker at the end of the week.

Bring it on, baby.

So I’m feeling very ready for school this year. I still need to order some Spanish curriculum for Princess, as well as the quizzes and tests book that goes with her science, but those are minor details. Pshaw! Otherwise I’m feeling ready to go!

Even though we don’t start for a few more weeks yet.

Hey! What can I say?? I told you I plan in advance!

Tackle It Tuesday is hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom.

Update: This post inspired a how-to hubpage that can be found here:

Getting Ready for the Homeschool Year

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!