Wednesday, August 7

Day 3: Homeschool Organizing freebies

This marks the third day of free organizing printables, and let me tell you: You are going to love this. I am really excited about sharing these!

This is the stack of goodies that I go through every August as I prep for my upcoming year. It truly preps me for the WHOLE YEAR. I make a great big mess to get started and I write and rewrite things a dozen different times, but then it's finished. It's really finished for the year.

The amazing part about that is that I am kind of scatterbrained. I'm easily distracted. I require a verrrrrrry flexible schedule. We will skip school for a week on a whim and go camping. We will take off the entire month of December for Christmas School. We will take turns with stomach bugs and each of us will lose an entire week...but not the same week...due to vomit, snot, and exhaustion.

This stack of awesomeness let's you lose a gazillion days of school and always be able to pick it up and see where you are and where you should be. Sure, you could miss enough days to mean you'd need to cram 6 weeks of school into 5 days, but I can't help with that. I can just help you see that there is a disaster to deal with. But at least you'll know what the disaster is!

Some of my forms were inspired by DonnaYoung.org. This is a fabulous site with free forms for just about anything you can think of. I am a control freak and some freakish rebellion keeps me from enjoying any pre-made form "as is". I have to tweak everything. It's an illness. I've used inspiration from various sources and developed the forms that fit my needs. I'd love to hear if they help you!

I begin by narrowing down the subjects, which I mentioned before. After I know what I am teaching, I need to narrow down when I'm teaching. I begin with a calendar. And, I have to recant here because I actually have found a calendar that I have never felt a need to tweak. FiveJ's puts out a school calendar every year and it's always perfect for my binder. I take that calendar and my school year form and plot out the weeks and days that we will be in school.

Next to each week on the calendar, I write out week #'s to represent each week of a 36 week school year. I skip plenty of weeks where I know we'll miss 3 days or more. I don't actually stick to a 36 week schedule, but I'll explain that in the next paragraph. I keep page 2 of that freebie file in the front of my binder so that it is handy for jotting notes and for reminding me of my goals.

For each subject I teach, I fill out a course outline using this Weekly View by Semester form. See how it is numbered down the side? It's not dated. It's numbered. I divide up my school year into 36 weeks. I school year round, but I divide it up by 36 weeks. Those aren't the same thing, you see? This means that I can work on "Week #1" for 3 days or 3 weeks. It doesn't matter. It's still week one of my 36-week school year. When we finish week #1, we go on to week #2, and so forth. I also like to divide my weeks up to include a review week every 6-8 weeks, depending on what the year looks like. I plotted my calendar in the first step, giving me a general outline for the year and an idea of when we would end our school year. But things happen. My calendar might say we planned to hit week #36 in June, but we might not actually hit it until August. Then again, we could hit it in May. It just depends. That's the beauty of homeschooling with flexibility. It's also the curse, because seriously, I have never been finished in May. Never.

Did you notice the grading scale on the bottom of that previous form? Grading subjects is brand new to me. But my sons are in high school now and it's time to start approaching things a bit differently. When you homeschool, you teach until they get it. If they don't understand it, you don't move on! So technically, every student gets 100%  in every class. Most colleges don't understand that. Putting 100% down for every subject looks suspiciously like Mama is a biased teacher. So this year, we're trying to grade things. For an individualized grading page, I have this grading form for you.

To get down to the nitty gritty, I do a little math. I look in the math book and see that there are 400 pages. I divide that up over the # of weeks we're in school. 400 ÷ 36 weeks =  a little over 11 pages of math per week, which equals roughly 2 pages per school day. I browse the table of contents to find some good places to stop and review exist and I round the pages assigned up or down each week to fit comfortably into my Term #s. I just draw a marker line in my Semester form to show where I want to pause for a review week.

Now, for my younger students, the assignments aren't as simple as "do the next page". I like a little more detail, a bit more flair. Our assignments are easier and more broadly painted. I use this year-at-a-glance form for these big-picture subjects. There are 3 pages included in this form, providing different views for your needs. I prefer page 2, with 5 weeks available because some months bless me with these bonus weeks! I just cross out the boxes that don't fit into our calendar.

If I were using the year-at-a-glance form for science in the early years, it would include the basics that I wanted to cover for the year. I'd draw a line to separate my semesters (likely between December and January.) I might begin August with Astronomy basics for week #1, The Sun for week #2, Mercury for week #3, Venus for #4, etc. In January, we'd begin studying Deserts for week #1, Rainforests for week #2, Grasslands for #3, etc.

Once the general plan is all laid out, I can plot it more specifically on week-at-a-glance forms. I don't generally fill these out more than 3 weeks out. I already have a big picture view. I don't get too specific too far from where I am. Sometimes books that I intend to last for 3 weeks last only 3 days. Sometimes they last 6 weeks. If my forms are filled out for the year, my OCD spazzes out when I have to scratch stuff out. This is the form that gets used to pieces. I print these for the kids and they each keep one in their binder for the week. They mark off assignments as they are completed. They spill milk on them. They doodle arrows and castles and all manner of nonsense in the borders. These are an essential part of our homeschool life. It's simple, but here it is:
In the left column, I list every possible subject that I could want to teach, yet always forget to teach. I need prompted every week. Oh, yeah, nature study. Why can I never remember that?? I've included one with a blank subject column since we don't all teach the same subjects.

Be sure to check out the rest of this amazing Blog Hop in the link below!
Summer Blog Hop

1 comment:

Beth said...

I'm loving this planning forms, Jenn! Can't wait to get home and try them out. You *may* have inspired me to plan menus.

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