Last week we started our fifth year of home educating.
It’s the first year that all three children are officially school aged, although the youngest chose to start doing some table work, like her brother and sister, a few months ago and has been part of our group lessons since she was tiny. I guess that’s just how it is for the littlies in home ed families.
We tend to run the same sort of term dates as the schools in this area, so we started our table work on Wednesday and did the basics for the second half of the week. We also went to buy shoes on Wednesday once our work was done, which was pretty good timing I think, given the change in the weather over the last few days.
How I Plan
For the last three years I have used Pam Barnhill‘s Plan Your Year set up as the back bone of my summer planning. I like the step by step instructions, and how it starts with your big picture, and gets you to focus further and further into the details as you go along. Of course the trick is not to get TOO detailed, which in essence is what I want to write about here.
I usually start planning in June and early July before we finish for the summer. I look at what is working, what fell by the wayside, what I wanted to do but didn’t get time to, etc, and think about how I want things to go next year. I use the printables included in Plan Your Year to assess what is going on with each child, what each child is going to be using next year, and what I need to research. These all go in my A4 planning folder.
I come back to this planning part of the way through the summer holidays and work out what I want to work on for each child, what we are going to work on all together, and put together how the weekly schedule is going to look.
How I Organise My Day to Day Planning
I don’t write down a day by day account of what lessons we are going to do and when. We would get off track very quickly.
Instead I write down what the subject is in a weekly ticky-box plan, and then have separate lists for each child for what they are going to being doing for each of those subjects. These I put together as a small document folder for each child, (plus a family one for work we do all together), by photocopying the contents from our maths books, printing out the list of units for our phonics and grammar programmes, and printing the spelling work lists from our spelling curriculum.
I also headline up some sheets of lined paper with things like ‘Videos we watched’, ‘Documentaries’, ‘Science Units’ etc, so that I can record what we do as we go along. At the end of the year I can put all these document folders together into one for the year, or add each child’s folder to their portfolio, along with sample of their work. (I don’t need to do this, but I do it anyway in case we ever need it. Usually I pull some work from the front and back of their work folders once they are full to bursting, and recycle the rest. *cough* I also make little flick through videos with my phone, which I keep for personal use, to show how much was in there before I recycled. Belt and braces? Yup.)
I have started to record all our fiction and non-fiction readalouds in Goodreads as a specific HE bookshelf for the academic year and plan to print out the list at the end of the year to add to the folders.
Weekly Folders and Do the next thing…
As I said before, I don’t write a list of every exact lesson we are going to do each day. Instead I set things up so that we can do ‘the next thing.’
With maths we just turn to the next lesson, and when we have completed it I tick it and date it in the folder. (Again I don’t need to do this, but it helps to show me the progress we are making. It is a ‘we are here!’ mark, if you will.)
With the phonics or grammar, I print out the latest unit or two, and keep them in a separate folder and then build a folder of work for each child for the coming week, at the weekend. It probably takes me half an hour to file the stuff from the previous week and pull out stuff for the coming week (and I have just realised that I am rusty at doing this, since I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon and I haven’t even thought about doing this for the next week! Oops.)
I use a six pocket folder for each child – one pocket for each day of the week, so that I can piece out the work, plus one at the front to catch all the work that has been done and needs to be put away. I have been doing this for three year and it works really well for us, though I am on the lookout for folders that lie a bit flatter and than you can flick through rather than concertina out, just for ease of use.
I made myself a master sheet for each week, which I can change on the computer and print out as needed. This lives on a clipboard and I mark it up every day with what we did and didn’t do. (Guess what? I don’t need to do this. It’s just another of the ways I track what we are doing so that I feel good about what we are achieving. I’m all about the visibility.)
(I made it editable, and obviously our home copy has the children
This take a lot of the decisions out of our day to day home education. I can choose that we don’t do something I guess, or that we spend more time one something and skip something else to make room, but I’m never getting up and trying to work out what the children are going to learn, (as various extended family members have assumed of me.)
Tomorrow I’ll post part 2, (I know!) about what we are using this year, and why.