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06 March 2013

Staying on Track

It's been very useful to me in the past to see others talk about how they do the practical, day-to-day things in their homeschools, so I thought I'd share the way that I do my lesson plans and daily lists for Hero. This is my planning grid. It shows 2 weeks of Hero's work, and I recently started to put ABC games and art projects down the extra space for "tot school" for Dragon, who insists that he not be left out.

The very top line is phonics, though we won't be needing that for Hero too much longer; his reading is better and better all the time. I just put a check mark by the days that we do phonics. I've got a spot to mark every day, but we've never done it quite daily. More like 3-4 times in a week.

Next is math, which is the hardest for me to plan because Hero is like a sponge in math; I can't seem to keep on top of where he needs to be. I seldom plan more than a week or two at a time, because if I do I'll just end up needing to re-plan it after he's seen what I'm showing him once or twice.

The rest of the subjects go like that: handwriting & drawing are related skills, so I've combined them, and we do that about 4 times a week. I'll be switching out geography for artist study on the next batch of charts that I print; I feel like we get a lot of geography in the context of our history, and it's far more useful and memorable when it's in context like that. Artist study is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time now, but haven't been able to make it work. We're about to try again. Science and History have the largest blocks because I have to make notes about what activities I plan to have us do. As you can see from the pink arrows, it's not set in stone. Sometimes stuff gets skipped, or in this case, forwarded into the next week.

I generally write in pencil because it's more flexible. If I write in pen I invariably end up looking for my whiteout! I plan out what I'd like to see happen in the week on this chart, but don't commit to specifics as far as the days for most things. That way, if we're engrossed in something we can stay with it for the day without messing everything up, and if we've got plans to be out or something unexpected comes up, our school schedule can absorb it pretty easily. Most weeks it takes us from Monday to Friday. Occasionally, we finish on Thursday, sometimes we've got a little mop-up that needs to be done on Saturday. It's a pretty flexible system, and it's been working nicely.

When we get up each morning, I make a list for the day, like this one we're using today. Hero knows that certain things have to wait until after school, like screen time, so he has motivation to get his work done. He chooses (mostly) what order to do things in. Some days he can do this much in about 2-2.5 hours. Other days there's lots of breaks and we're finishing up school around dinner time. I don't worry about it too much, as long as we're consistently getting things done. I do monitor to make sure that there's plenty of free play time, but it makes very little difference to me if he wants to do his school all at once or a little at a time over the day.

The second, short list on the right of the picture is my list of stuff I want to do with Dragon today. That's for my own reference; I don't think he's aware that he's "doing school" most of the time. Today I planned to play some letter games, read some stories, and I had him play with our pattern blocks. The list keeps me organized enough to actually remember to do stuff like that with him; without it I can get really bad about forgetting to do even basic stuff like reading the poor kid stories. Thank goodness for being able to make lists! I never used to do it, but the more I have to accomplish, the more useful I'm finding my various lists.

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