Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homeschool Planning & Tracking

After finishing up my second year of homeschooling, I've come to a realization.  I need to be more organized.

Now, I'm a really organized person.  I plot and plan and then triple check everything and no, I'm not crazy...well, maybe sometimes.

So, this begs the question, why in the world would I need to be MORE organized?!

Part way through last year I was finally comfortable enough with every one's curriculum and our daily routines to start adding in bigger projects.  I'm not a project-ey person by nature, I like things to be the same everyday and projects intimidatingly disrupt my normalcy.  But, I found to my surprise, I really liked doing them with my kids and, no surprise, they liked doing them too.  Even though I liked them, I didn't like how I was doing them.  It ended up being sort of haphazard, forgetting about holidays until they'd passed and not really knowing when things (like book reports) should be "due."

I also never knew how long we'd been in school.  We work our way through our curriculum and do plenty of school, but I wanted to know when quarters were over.  I wanted to be able to tell (more easily) if we were on track with our curriculum.

So, I began my search for the "perfect" planning calendar.

Unfortunately, I soon came to the conclusion there is no such thing.  I found a lot of really cool calendars with all sorts of different planning options, but none that fit all my needs.

I also found that the more I looked, the more I wanted to stick in my planning calendar.  Cool things that hadn't occurred to me, but should have.

So, I've come up with a list of things that I need (want) to keep track of and do for next year.

To help keep track of how long we've been in school, I've come across a few ideas.  One is an out and out attendance sheet that I would use to mark each child on a graph each specific date we have school.  The other is just a sheet full of numbered circles where you fill one in each day you're in school.

I think we'll start out with both, I'll take dated attendance and have my kids fill in a bubble for each day they are "in" school.  I'll be able to keep track of quarters and curriculum progression and they'll be able to see the days add up (plus, we'll know when we get to the 100th day, there are so many fun things to do!).

Project Scheduler
I'm thinking it would be best to use a monthly calendar to keep track of projects.  I can write in holidays we want to celebrate, figure out how many book and research reports the kids are going to do and space them out throughout the year.  To keep who's doing what separate, I'm thinking I'll write each child's projects in different colored pens (I've been looking for an excuse to buy some fun pens for myself).

Field Trip Planner
I'm not sure if this should go on the same calendar as the projects, or somewhere different.  I'm worried about having too much stuff on one calendar and about having too many different I'm torn about how to go about it.  I'll probably try it all on one calendar and then adjust if I need to.  Or maybe stick it on the one calendar, but also have a separate sheet with all planned field trips for the year.  Sort of a year at a glance sheet for field trips.  Shoot, I still can't decide.

Goal Setting
I want my kids to set goals specific to our school time.  I'm a big fan of goals and so I'm surprised this never occurred to me, but it didn't.  I'm not sure what these will look like, so I think I'll leave it up to my kids.  We'll brainstorm together in the beginning our our school year and then I'll give them some time to write out their own goals. 

I also think goals should be malleable, changing with us, and so we'll review our goals setting new ones at least every quarter (see, I need to keep track of how long we've been in school!).

Vision Statement
This is sort of related to goal setting, except they will be goals for everyone.  For our school as a whole.  I've actually been thinking about this for a while and I have a seed of an idea. 

Last year my kids made their own coat of arms for a history project. 

Each coat of arms represents each of my kids and as I watched them come together, I started to think it would be fun to make a coat of arms for our Homeschool.  We could talk about what we want for our school time and then figure out ways to symbolize that with pictures.  After we're done, we can stick it on the wall to remind us of the direction we've chosen to head together.

Reading Log
I found a reading log I LOVE (Tina's Dynamic, link below).  We tried to keep a log at the beginning of last year and failed miserably.  It wasn't fun for anyone, but I plan to use these logs to keep track of assigned books (the ones that go along with our history and language arts curriculum).  I'll write when they should be starting and finishing each book and they can figure out how many chapters or pages they'll have to read everyday day/week, marking them off as they go.  Then, at a glance, we can both see if they're staying on track.

Supply List
Another item I desperately need is a list of supplies for our various curriculum.  These are usually for History and Art projects and Science experiments.  While I do purchase some supplies at the beginning of the year, I collect others throughout and need a way to track exactly when I'll need what.  I hate getting all ready for the day and realizing I'm missing one part to a planned (not well, sadly) project.

Daily/Weekly Planner
This is actually the one thing I don't need and am so glad I already have.  I made a checklist for Ben part way through our first year of homeschooling and it was a real life saver.  Seriously. 

I made one for both James and Makenna this last year and it saved my bacon.  Or my sanity.  Maybe both.

For the upcoming year, I've thought about ways to give Makenna complete control of her schedule with her own planner, but I love the checklists too much.  Although, I know it's good for her to learn to make out her own schedule (and how to stick to it), so I'm thinking I'll give her a new schedule and a planner a few weeks before school to let her figure out how she wants to keep track of her schoolwork.  I know, I'm still doing part of it for steps. 

So, what do you think?  Am I missing anything crucial?  What is your very favorite planning or calendaring tool?

Oh, and just in case you would like to check them out, this is where I've found my favorite bits and pieces that I plan to use to make up my own planner thing-ey.

Weekly Homeschool Planner - not free, but you can look at a sample before buying
Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus - this is AWESOME (and free)!!
Living Well Spending Less - free
Confessions of a Homeschooler - not free, but adorable

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I like how organized you are! Just thinking about all the planning for homeschool makes me want to crawl into a cave. Thank you for the ideas!


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