Monday, September 5, 2011

Tri-Moms: Organizing the School Year

Though I am a planner by nature, when it comes to homeschooling, I've found that I do better without a daily lesson plan.  Because I tend to get too attached to a schedule once I've made one, it is more beneficial to me to look at the year as a whole and make yearly goals instead of daily plans.  Then if we have a social invitation, sick day, or other unexpected interruption, we take the day  (or  week) off and we pick up where we left off without feeling as though we're behind.  It is all a mental game, really. 

At the beginning of each school year, I make broad goals that we work all year to complete.  Some of our goals for this year include:
  • History:     read our way from the post-Civil War era through space exploration
  • Art:     study the works of 2-3 artists
  • Music:     listen to and read about 9 hymns (1 per month) and learn to sing along
  • English:     help both Maddie and Owen  become independent readers 
  • Memory Work:     memorize The Lord's Prayer and the books of the Bible & memorize 2-4 poems
If we complete a goal by December, I may consider making a new goal for that subject.  If we complete a goal by April, I may consider the subject complete for the year and lighten our load.  It is a good method for us and it works.  

Though I do not make daily lesson plans, I do like a bit of structure.  I prefer to sit down at the school table with an expectation so I'm not winging it every day.  Though I have jotted it on paper, it is such a flexible routine that if we anticipate a 3- or 4-day school week instead of the typical 5, we can tailor our plans accordingly.






Kick off the day with...

Bible memory

Bible reading

Bible reading

Bible reading

Missionary study

“Extra” Subject:


Art Study

Science Reading

Music Study

Outside Science

Table Time:

English: Phonics and/or




English: Phonics and/or Copywork


Winding Down...

<------Geography/ History Reading------>

Then there is the issue of end-of-year organization.  In the fall of 2007, during my first weeks as an "official" homeschool mom, I had every intention of writing down of what Gavin did in school every day.  I recorded each math lesson and each page of handwriting in a grid with spaces for each subject and each day of the week.  I thrive on organization and records so I expected to enjoy this process of record keeping, but instead it stressed me out.  It was too easy to get discouraged about blank spaces and what didn't get done.  I talked it over with Brian and decided to abandon the daily records and instead keep a more general yearly record. Now when May rolls around and we wind down our year, I type up a comprehensive list of what each child accomplished in each subject and compile the pages in a binder along with work samples, art projects, and a few pictures from the year. It is sort of like a school year scrapbook. 

By the time I'm done, I have a 1-inch 3-ring binder for each school aged child to mark their finished school year.  Someone recently asked me what I do with the things that don't fit in the small binder.  My answer?  Throw them away!  I work hard to include all the highlights in the binder, but if it doesn't fit, out it goes.

: :: :: :: :: :: :: :

If you are like me, you enjoy getting a nosy little peek into the plans of other homeschool moms'.  Visit the other Tri-Moms, Allyson @ A Heart For Home and Christy @ A Living Homeschool and read their take on organizing their homeschools. 

Up next: September 20
  Getting the whole family involved in homeschooling

Fall Schedule of Topics
October 4:  The joys and fears of our children growing older
October 18: Traveling with children
November 1: Thanksgiving crafts and recipes
November 15: Teaching the meaning of Thanksgiving


  1. I like your idea of general plans. I, too would get discouraged if I had specific plans made up weeks ahead of time and got behind.

  2. I like the idea of a yearly plan too--it seems simplified and less stressful for sure. I think I would need more frequent goals than that though since I'm a procrastinator. I usually schedule a week at a time. That way I have a plan but it's not so far in advance that I can't change it up if need be.

    Oh, and I love the idea of the scrapbook at the end of the year!

  3. I enjoyed reading this post. I love the idea of whole year plans.

    I noticed you have independent work for phonics/ much time do you spend with each child going over the lesson? It seems for me teaching phonics and math takes up a good portion of my time. I normally have Erin do her reading work while I work on math and phonics with Maygen and then when we're done I work with Erin on Language Arts and math.


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