Planners, Planners, and More Planners

Planners, Planners, and More Planners

Hi.  My name is Kim and I’m addicted to planners.

(This is where you say, “Hi, Kim.”)

I own countless planners!  I am admitting out loud, right here, for the very first time.  I have tried everything, and have discovered a few things along the way.  Age, grade, personality, and type of homeschooling strategy play a huge role in choosing how to organize your school life.

When I first started homeschooling, I wrote lesson plans for my first grader.  I had been a certified teacher in a previous life, so lesson plans made sense.  The form with which I was most comfortable included a “what” I was going to teach, as well as a “how” I was going to teach it section.  I did this for multiple subjects for one child, thinking I was taking care of business.  Here in Georgia, I am not required to file lesson plans or curriculum choices with any local or state board of education.  In my over-exuberance, however, I felt I had something to show for my efforts.  It was a great system and kept us organized and on track.

Until.

Fast-forward to the next stage of my homeschool adventure– teaching more than one child.  My second child was suddenly ready for school, and that’s when The Panic reared its large and ugly head.  Not only did it quickly occur to me that I could not keep up with the pace of such a detailed approach, but I could not even remember why it was so important anyway.  For elementary school?  Come on.  Was I really going to do the exact same lesson plan for the next child regardless of personality differences, learning styles, and varied interests?  Time for a new planner.  I used a regular teacher’s lesson plan book and adapted it to cover the day’s work for both kids.  The lessons became less detailed over the course of the school year, but still I was at least able to go back and see what we had accomplished week by week.

Until.

Next came having three small children at various grade levels with various interests.  By now I’m an eyes-glazed-over planner junkie,  buying various planners at a homeschool expo and combining them like an organizational Dr. Frankenstein to create a binder the size of small suitcase to manage my entire household.  My personal binder kept grades, lesson plans, meal plans, phone numbers, and utility bills.  Clearly I had gone over the edge, but there are no meetings for this addiction.  And lugging this beast around along with three children?  Forget about it.  But what was the point of having the freedom to school anywhere if I could not carry my “life” with me?

The next stage of organizational madness came when I realized that I had somehow raised an OCD child who wanted her…(gasp)…own planner.  What?!?  You want to check your own boxes, write down what you accomplish, and I will not be able to look at it and fulfill my desire to check boxes?!?!  After breathing into a paper bag for a few minutes I reluctantly decided to give it a shot.  On one condition.  Bring me your planner every Friday so I can make sure everything is in order.  Success!

Until.

They all wanted their own planners!!  The monsters I have created!!

Today I have four kids, ages 6-14 schooling in my house and running my life.  As they have grown, so has the system for keeping it all straight.  I have discovered that a yearly syllabus for me and a weekly planner for each of them is our perfect solution.  They each have a block of subjects with lessons outlined by the day.  Since we have a syllabus, I don’t have to be quite as specific with the daily lesson plans.  For example, I have taught Singapore Math long enough to know how much each child can handle daily.  Some curricula come with a built-in plan.  I do not re-type this plan but instead, photocopy it, one for me and one for the student.  I put weekly dates by each assignment and then type in their box under History – see syllabus.  When the student has finished his assignment, I ask that they highlight it.  This allows me to see the completed activity in case there is a discrepancy in what was expected and what was delivered (although this never happens  J).  I have also found that a weekly plan allows for Life to have its say once in a while– unexpected company, illness, mental breakdown.  You know what I’m talking about.  Having yearly and weekly plans working together also allows my children to learn and improve valuable time management skills.

Obviously, there is no one system that works for everyone.  While I could go into great detail about almost every planner on the market, your best bet is to evaluate your choices based on factors like what kind of lesson planning you want to do, how much autonomy are you willing to give your student, and the personality of the person using the planner.

 

 

 

About Kim Pray

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