One of the biggest areas that I have found my teaching experience has helped me with home schooling is lesson planning. In my perfect world I wouldn’t necessarily bother with a schedule, but we wouldn’t get much done either! I believe making lesson plans helps to give you a framework for your school day. This can be done either with a structured format such a lesson plan or a less structured format such as a journal. You can plan for each day, week, month, and before you know it, the whole year is done! I will be addressing the “how-to” of lesson plans for several posts since the explanation is fairly lengthy.
Do I sit down and plan out the whole year at one time? No, I think that it would be an overwhelming task, and besides I don’t have the stamina or time to do that- neither do you! Set aside a few hours one week to lay out an overview of your year. (See part 2) After that has been accomplished, set aside one day a week to plan for the upcoming week. I usually spent 1-2 hours on Saturday morning writing out lessons and figuring out what materials were needed (science, art supplies).
Things to Consider before Diving into the Planning:
- In what direction do you want to go for the school year? Take some time to pray for wisdom and guidance.
- Have you discussed the upcoming school year with your husband? Have you considered receiving suggestions from your children? I have asked my children before what topics they would be interested in studying and have added units and/or resources accordingly (if the ideas were legitimate). I just discovered a resource about having a planning weekend with your whole family. If if doen’t work out for all of you to be involved, perhaps just you and your hubby can go. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea!
- Do you have all your curriculum and/or resources ready so you can start to plan? Have your supplies and materials (textbooks, library books and movies, etc.) available for easy reference. Don’t begin if you are missing the majority of your resources or are going to be using a certain curriculum based on hearsay. One time I bought a curriculum via the internet and website recommendations that I planned on using for the entire year. I had already loosely organized my year around that curriculum, but didn’t like it once it arrived. That was hours of wasted time! 😦
- How long are you planning on being in session? Will you go year-round and take several breaks (school for 6 weeks- off for 2 weeks) or do something more traditional like begin in August and finish in May?
- Plan for breaks, holidays, vacations and the unexpected. How can you plan for the unexpected? Have a few “free” days throughout the year and if something would come up (winning an all-expense paid vacation to Tahiti) you won’t be stressed out if you have to send your children to grandma’s without schoolwork. If nothing occurs, you can either finish early or take the days off! 🙂
- Are you going to be utilizing other classes or programs outside your school for some of the coursework? Be sure to have those dates and times handy so you can plug those into your schedule.
- Don’t over commit! Do not plan on doing a great amount of extra curricular activities. While there are plenty of wonderful opportunities for you and your family, consider what you want to achieve by participating. Too many activities can lead to stress and not accomplishing what you set out to do. After all, it is called home schooling for a reason. 🙂
- Time of Day- When are you planning on being in school? Do you have toddlers, teens, aging parents or a lot of orthodontist visits that you need to consider when setting your schedule? Plan for that as it will alleviate the stress of not planning and feeling like you are behind on what you had in mind for the school year.
Part 2 will be about writing lesson plans for textbooks and more traditional curriculum.
Love your timing Lisa! I just finished checking to see what books were at the library and buying what would be hard to find. Poof! In comes Lisa’s thoughts on lesson plans!
I do like a general idea of what the year will look like, but have noticed that my planner stays neater and I get less frustrated if I only plan specifically for few weeks out. ( You really do find out what is really going to work once you jump in and start!) Neater because, let’s face it, very rarely can you plan out a year and not fall behind or need to adjust. Less frustrated because sometimes I have trouble letting go to expectations/goals that I have set that are just not realistic.
Anyway, here is my BIG HINT: I am inserting a reminder in my outlook mailbox that will be popping up a couple of weeks before I need each book from the library. Then I can simply log into my library account and put the book on hold.
Also, I am excited that we will be using not only a combination of books and books on tape/cd, but also, several items are free to download onto my Kindle.
Looking forward to your next post!
Thanks for the insights, Mary!
Kindle or other electronic readers would be a great way to get books without leaving the house for those who are busy or live too far away from a library. I also love the reminder on your computer about placing holds. It would be helpful to have a reminder about when books are due too. I have bought my share of books since I have forgotten to return books and have paid overdue fines. 🙂