It's that time of year when homeschooling parents are busy planning for the start of the new year. I am planning to share a series of post on how I plan, in the hopes that it might help someone. But today I will share a shorter overview. The first thing I do when I start to plan out a new year is pray. God gives me guidance and helps me to make the most out of the resources I have.
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Next I think about what goals I have for us as a family and each child. Does one need extra help in reading? Another might need more math practice. Than of course think about what character and attitude points we need to work on.
After writing out a list for each child, I then start to think about what subjects I would like to cover this year. I do include our children in this process. They don't have full control over what we learn, but their input is important. I've found that children also are much more interested in their work, when they have had some say in either the subject or resource they are using.
My next step is to decide our yearly calendar. We are normally year round schoolers, but for record keeping I like to have an end and start date. I mark out our holidays and any other days or weeks we would like off. This year I'm thinking about using a 6 weeks on, 1 week off but I'm not sure yet.
If I'm going to be using any unit studies, such as Five in a Row I like to have an outline made a head of time. For this I use a simple spiral notebook. I record the book/unit title at the top and then make a basic outline of what we would like to cover with it and the resources needed. Other books that are broken down by lesson number, I divide the number of lessons by the number of school days to figure out how many times per week we need to do that book to finish. Now I do just use that as a guideline! Life happens and if an opportunity comes up for a field trip, or we get sick I don't stress about missing time. I just reschedule the lessons and do the next thing.
I also use a wonderful program called Homeschool Tracker. I started using this years ago and it's a wonderful addition to our homeschool. It comes in 3 versions, the basic version is free. I used this for a while until I knew that I liked it enough to want the Plus
The Plus version has so many more features and one that I love is the lesson plans. I can write up my lesson plans and then use them for every child. Plans can be archived until needed again. This saves me many hours of work! I can also easily copy lesson plans into a new plan to customize resources for that child without needing to start fresh. The only drawback with the Plus version is it's a Windows only program and we run Linux. To get around this I installed my copy of Windows into a virtual box so I can use this inside of Linux. Homeschool Tracker does have an online version available now as well that will run on all systems. I have not yet tried it, simply because I prefer to have my plans on my computer. If my internet goes out I can still enter lessons, and print of records.
With Homeschool Tracker Plus, I can print daily or weekly lesson plans and checklists. I can easily reschedule lessons if we missed them. I think this might have to be another post as well, because there is just SO much to this program!