Monday, January 24, 2011

School Days, School Daze! Part One, Planning day-to-day

Thinking about homeschooling -with all the requirements, goals, tests, books and options- can put even the most determined mom in a "Where is that yellow bus?!" mood.  Add in the uncertainty and unlimited options of unit studies, and you may end up in a real school daze!  But it is not as hard as it sounds, and once you get started, unit studies can be easier then a lot of other schooling methods.

I wanted to write a page detailing our planning and organizing.  But once I got started, I realized that this is going to be a lot longer then I thought, so you will just have to bear with me!  I really hope that this series helps those of you who are new to homeschooling, and even those who have 'been there, done that', but are new to unit studies.  This first post will be all about planning!

reading by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-SphereI have tried several different methods for planning the day-to-day use of unit studies.  Now, I know some people just do whatever works, until they are done or tired of it.  That just doesn't work for me.  I really need to know what I am going to be doing each day when I wake up, or we will get nowhere and spend all day doing it!

I tried workboxes.  That didn't work for me.  For a lot of reasons, but the biggest being the simple fact that we don't have room for them.  I also found it silly to use boxes for them when I am there directing each step anyway, and they do all their subjects together.

I tried planning out each book, page and website for each day.  That certainly didn't work for me.  Too much time.  Too strict.  Much too complicated.

So finally I have settled on this method which actually seems to be working for me!  My school planning consists of two main things- a file folder and a planning sheet.

We will start with the planning sheet.  It has each child's subjects down the side, and also combined subjects.  This is what I have on my page:

  • Bible
  • Bop, math
  • CJ, math
  • Bop, phonics
  • CJ, phonics
  • Unit study for that week
  • Language, spelling, handwriting (We do not do each one of these on each day) 
  • Tot School for Baby Girl

There is one column for each day of the week and in this I write my ideas for the week.  I add in computer learning and anything that does not fit into my file folder.  I also write in things like math drills and worksheets, so I won't forget them even if they go in the folder.

The file folder:  This is a plastic organizer that you can get for a couple bucks anywhere.  On mine, I cut off the little flap that comes down over the top becasue it just got in my way.  (Unfortunately, mine is pink just like this one.  I wish it wasn't...)  :) 

I labeled each divider with a day of the week, Monday thru Friday.  There is one pocket left in the back that is unlabeled.  This is the physical part of the plan.   After I get my planning sheet filled in, I put whatever I can into the pockets.  Worksheets, small readers, math pages, lapbook and notebook pieces, all go in for each day.  This is as close to workboxes as I get.

This is the way I quickly plan each week and have everything ready.  Anything that does not fit into the folders, such as computer time and our Bible study program, is on the planning sheet so I won't forget it.  I keep the books that we use everyday on my shelf right next to the file folder so they are ready to go.  On most days I actually write down what computer program/website I want them to use, and what part of it.  This really helps keep me on track with our online reviews, which we have quiet a few of.

Every morning I can just pull out my folder and planner, and start working.  We start at the top, and just work our way through.  Everything is there, ready, so I don't waste time looking for that worksheet or this book.  When we are done with one subject we cross it off and go right to the next.  This helps keep us all on track (and in the same room!  They like to run off) because there is no waiting time to get distracted.

Next, I will talk more about why I don't use the workboxes anymore and how I physically organize our very crowded space.  Come back soon!

What do you use to make your school days run smoothly?  Are there any must-have products that you use to plan and organize?


  1. I am liking this topic a lot. I havent used unit studies really, I just kinda go with the flow of what my kids are interested in and what they need to be doing. I use a spreadsheet that is in microsoft, I sit down about every 4 weeks and type in everything we will be doing and print it out for my guide. I would love to do a unit study next year, however I dont really know where to begin with a 6 and 4 year old! Do you have any suggestions? Blessings!!!

  2. Kris, I do plan to be talking more about how to plan your own unit studies for little ones. But it sounds to me like you are pretty much going with what they are interested in, and making it into your own little study anyway, so good for you!


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