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In the middle of the second year of homeschooling, I have tried some methods of planning. Once it doesn't work, I changed into another ones. We try to get the most suitable for our family all of the time. I am not a good planner nor an organized mom. I don't have wonderful organizational skills like what my mom has. However, as the time moves and as the condition forces me to do multitasking jobs, I cannot avoid planning anymore. Whether I want or not, I have to be a better planner from time to time..
Well, today I would like to focus on my homeschooling planning as this is what I am doing right now. Our schooling was started in mid July 2013 which might be earlier than yours. I started planning at end of May. When kids were enjoying their holiday, it was the busiest time that I had. Here are the things that I did:
- I started to determine when the school would be started and when the school would be ended. I adjusted the date with the governmennt.
Outcomes: the start day and the end day of school year
- I played with the calendar to determine the “division” of the school academic year into terms. The middle is always Christmas and New Year holiday for us to take a real break. The length of one term is usually around 9 to 11 weeks, depends on the number of holiday and vacation in the period. I also set the required days to school in a year. From http://www.homeschoolskedtrack.com I just found that it is 180 days for USA public school. I set mine 195 days with 4.25 average hours of learning in a day.
From the number of days in that school year – (required days of school+holiday or vacation)= free days
Of course we are not going to be that strict with certain amount of hours and days to learn like the public school, but at least we know the limit and it will reduce my worry of being left out
- The first date of each term
- The number of the weeks and the dates under (in the school year), example week 1 from 15 July 2013 to 19 July 2013.
- I use to give signs to school academic calendar with colors for holidays, school days, end of terms, and the number of full day weeks in each month.
- The number of free days that we can use for miscellaneous things.
- Next, I set the courses, the subjects, and subject groups if necessary for each kid. A course is a part of a subject. For example:
- piano is a course, and music is the subject for the course.
- Creative writing and business writing are courses, and the subject is writing.
- Swimming and wushu are courses, and the subject is PE.
- Indonesian history and world history are courses which are under history subject.
- History, Geography, and Economics are subjects which are grouped under social studies.
Next to the courses, subjects, and group of subjects, I allocate the duration of each in minutes.
- It is time to see what need to be covered for each kids based on the core standard or national standard. You might not follow the standard, but i think it would be good if you have certain goals of achievement. They don't have to be wordy, but it is enough to be clear. For instance, in science I set which topics or units we are doing this year and what skills kids need to master. If we choose to follow text books and improved what's inside, let start to get the curriculum or the resources for each course.
- What I did next was distributing the resources or learning activities. There are a couple of ways to do this that I know. First, the number or the amount of lessons will follow the time allocation. For example, if you follow atext book like Maths, you would divide the number of pages in the textbook with the number of the class meeting or lessons to determine how much to cover in each lesson. This method is good to assure that you cover things on the right time, but it can make you trembling with the time so it can affect the kids who will study. Public schools and some purchased curriculum usually use this method. It won't be any problem for kids who can learn independently or for those who understand target. For me, I prefer the second one like what I did. For Maths textbook, I determine how many page or how far my kids can coupe in one lesson or certain amount of time. For example:
- I know that my kids would be able to cover 2 pages for fraction addition in each 30 minutes, so i will write:Sequence 1: Math Mammoth 5B pg. 23-24
- The next lesson should be about long division and I know he will cover 4 pages in 30 minutes, so I will write:Sequence 2: Math Mammoth 5B pg. 25-28, etcThe capability of each person is different. If kids can achieve more than that, it would be great. However, if they cannot reach it, then either the standard should be less or we need to help them more.
I never put the lesson distribution into dates to make it more flexible. I call the planning of each subject as a Yearly Subject Lesson Plan. This is the hardest thing of all. It is great to start arranging lapbooks, notebook, and worksheet accompanying each sequence. Otherwise, we can do it weekly.
- Now, I start arranging the time table for each kids which is adjusted based on each family's condition. I prefer to separate long school hours for kids so that they won't get frustrated. Moreover, they will be more focus on shorter periods, especially for younger kids. For older kids, there might be credits for each subject that are suggested to follow and use as ratio for learning hours needed.
I set higher credit for core subjects like Maths, Science, and Language as they are subjects in exams. Therefore I give the kids more frequent lessons in a week for those subjects. Of course, the length of lessons hour in one day will approximately meet the average of learning day as I set in number 1, which is 4.25 hour. When I finish this step, I can be very released.
- To get things easier for me daily, I set a weekly lesson plan as a group or individually. It includes
- The dates and the days of the week
- List of subjects what the kids needs to accomplish for each lesson of the subjects under certain date
- Checklist if they have doneEvery week I need to pick one sequence for one subject in one lesson based on the time table arranged in the previous step. Of course I need to check whether kids have finished the previous lesson assigned before I make the weekly lesson plan.If you do workbox system, it is time to put number which one is put on certain box. I did it, but now I just arrange the sequence of the subject lessons based on the time table
- Last year I didn't make the Daily Lesson Plan, but this year I make the daily lesson plan for kids and give it also to them so they will know what to do although sometimes they still ask. I make it daily because reading the weekly one make them confused. There are so many things to complete on a piece of paper. Reading the daily one is much easier
Last two years I typed all plans using excel and early this year I used handwritten form considering of being more practical as we don't need to print or bring computer. 2 days ago I remembered about Homeschoolskedtrack. It is a free homeschool schedule and track system which is online. I am extremely happy for this. I just need to do step 1 to 6 by typing it on skedtrack. Start from step 7, the weekly one, Skedtrack will do them for me automatically. Even it will keep students's grading. Therefore, I need to copy and retype all things to Skedtrack so It will ease my work.
Wow, what a long writing I am doing. It might be something not new for most homeschoolers, but many people don't know how to start. I hope that it can help many homeschoolers to ease your days.
Adelien Tan is a mother of three awesome boys and a wife of a great husband. They are a home education family who live in Surabaya, Indonesia, where home education is still very rare. English is her foreign language, but She tries to use it in blogging.