After using a different lesson planner for each of the 8 years we've been homeschooling, I finally decided to come up with my own. Nothing seemed to work exactly the way I wanted it to. Part of the problem is that my planning involves times when I am working with the kids as a group, times when they will work with me individually, and times when they will work independently. My lesson planners usually ended up with lots of sticky notes added, or notes scribbled in the margins.
To make the planner I first thought about our daily routine. We start together, then we have some time individually, then we end all together again. I divided our day, according to this basic routine, into blocks. In a previous post I wrote about how we have settled into a nice routine that includes some mini-breaks throughout the day. This is still working well for us and the blocks of time are divided by these breaks.
I will be planning for 6 weeks at a time. I'm finding this works well as six weeks seems to be a good length for most "units" we will study in science or history. Planning in advance will also free up the weekend time that I usually spend writing lesson plans. We'll see. I've only planned for six weeks in advance once so far.
The planner is organized in a 3 ring binder. When I print it, I will print pages 1 and 3 back to back. These will be put into a page protector in the binder. Then I will make 6 copies of page 2. These will go behind that page protector. Obviously, pages 1 and 3 are for the entire 6 weeks, and page 2 is a weekly page so there needs to be 6 of them. Hopefully, that will all make sense when you see the examples below. I don't know how to make a pdf file, so I just scanned these. You can click on them to make them bigger.
Below is page 1.
Under the dates at the top there is a section for the History Selection which I will read aloud to the kids. This reading aloud during breakfast has become something the kids really enjoy. This is not a time to read text books, but historical fiction that all the kids find interesting.
Following the history read aloud, once the children are done with their breakfast, we do copy work. Copy work used to be one of the subjects the kids did during their independent work time, but I really want to stress that they do this neatly. So, we all do it at the dining room table together. Once the kids learn the proper formation of the letters for handwriting, copywork takes the place of handwriting practice. You can see on the planner that there is a different topic for copywork each day. Monday, it is a selection taken from their language arts book, Tuesday it is a selection from one of the pieces of literature we are reading, Wednesday the selection is from the coming Sunday's gospel, and Thursday the copywork is from a saint that we are currently reading about. (Friday we don't do copywork.)
Finally for page 1 there is a table for our Religion lessons. Above the table there are the numbers 1-6, followed by "O"s. These are my attempt at a reminder for me to go over each child's Catechism questions with them daily. I'm not always good at doing this so I'm hoping that the need to check that "O" will be a good reminder.
Page 2 is to be copied 6 times, one for each week of the six week period. For some reason, a couple of the column lines aren't showing up, but you can tell where they should be.
workbox plans. We use this page when we are in the classroom where the kids work independently and I rotate through each of them, spending time on those subjects they are having difficulty with, or those subjects that we do orally together. In the boxes below the table there are places to write in and check off the kid's daily read aloud selection and memory work.
Finally, page 3 is to be printed on the back of page 1. This will be stored in the page protector.
It begins with the Science selection that I will read aloud to the kids while they eat their lunch. Like the morning history read aloud, this is a part of the day the kids all enjoy. As they eat, or when they are finished eating, they create sketch journals of the topic we are studying about.
The table near the top will be mostly for Jetter next year. The science program we will use comes with an activity book. Social Butterfly will be doing a hands on program called TOPS. She and a friend will do that together once a week. Builder's science will be covered during our weekly nature hikes.
There are more "O"s on this page. These are a reminder to have each of the kids recite the piece of poetry that they are currently memorizing. This is the part of our day that we call "Tea Time" even though I'm the only one that likes tea! We will start with poetry recitation, then I will read from a book of poetry, just for the enjoyment of listening to it. Finally, I will read aloud, once again, from a book. For this read aloud time, I don't read from a specific subject, but from a book that we are just enjoying for literature. It's taken us most of this year to get through Redwall, but everyone has enjoyed it.
We will end this time with either picture study, the study of an artist, or learning about a composer for music.
For next year, the kids will still receive their assignment sheet, which will be mostly the same as the one they are using this year. This assignment sheet is only for those subjects that are done independently, during "Workbox Time".
This system seems to be working well for us and I enjoy having things mapped out six weeks at a time. Page 2 of the planner is the one that will occasionally be changed if we get behind or if something new is added at the last minute, but it is a good guide to keep us headed in the right direction.