Homeschool Essentials: Have a Plan

homeschooling essentialsWelcome back to this 5 day series on Homeschool Essentials. So far, we’ve covered :

Today, we’re going to talk about the importance of having a plan.

Although different provincial regulations and teaching methods require different amounts of detail for plans, actually having some sort of plan is definitely essential to every homeschool. [Yes, even unschoolers!]

Yearly Outline

Having an idea of what you kind of oversee the whole year encompassing is a good place to start – whether that be taking a look through your planned curriculum and seeing what you are going to cover or coming up with a set of learning goals for your children.

Here’s an idea that you can do with your children – have them create a vision board for the year. Cut/paste pictures or words of things they want to accomplish or attempt throughout the school year. You can divide up the page into sections to focus on, like academics, social, spiritual, physical, financial, etc. This is a great way to see what your child’s goals are, and to help them figure out what steps they need to take to get there.

Weekly Plans

Making an outline of what you want to accomplish during the week, no matter how detailed or vague that will be, is a great way to follow through and succeed at finishing them.

Personally, I find when I’ve spent time planning out our week, that we get done what I wanted done – instead of just winging it and then wondering what we’ve spent our time doing over the last few days. (For the record, winging it doesn’t work very well at our house. It ends up with a lot of video game and computer play times…..).

The one resource that I’ve found super helpful is a teacher’s planner. This one is the one I love the most from all the options available:

It’s called The Ultimate Teacher’s Planbook, and yes – it’s American, but it’s really fantastic. It’s an oversized book, with printables (mostly suited best for a classroom, honestly, but some good ones still), year-at-a-glace space, monthly planning calendars and then weekly planning pages. Each page has 12 boxes for each day’s lessons, places for notes, and a couple of journal prompts. I love that I can write down everything I want done in a day and just checkmark it off when finished. If I do it in pencil, I can move things around if we don’t get to something one day or need to continue working on a skill for longer.

Daily Plan

Having a way for your kids to visually see what they are expected to accomplish in their day is a great way to get them on board, avoid arguments, and make it easy for them to develop independence. Here are a few ways that you can do that:

    • A Checklist – Just writing down what you want done in the day and letting your child check things off as finished is a terrific and simple way to have a daily plan. Some great ideas for this are to
              • use a whiteboard (erase the activity when done!)
              • use a paper checklist¬†{Download a free daily planning checklist.}
              • use a digital list with check boxes
    • Visual Charts – Sometimes, seeing pictures is the best way to understand what needs to be done in the day. I have at least 1 kid who really excels when I remember to use this method with him. I took a clipboard, added a whiteboard sticker page and separated it into squares. On each square I place a card with an image/title related to what he needs to work on. When he’s finished that task, he flips the card over and can move onto the next card. When all the cards are flipped over, he’s done everything I need him to do for the day. It’s pretty easy and effective.
      visual boardThe cards I created and downloaded off of a great website called Mrs. Riley, a terrific website!
    • Workbox System – For many years now, there’s a buzz in the homeschool community about a method of daily organization called “workboxes.” Basically you have a set of containers of some sort, and label each with a subject & number using velcro dots. Your child starts at bin 1 and when finished – moves that number to a chart and then starts on bin 2 – repeating until all the bins are done for the day. The bins are filled with subject by subject work to do, or a snack or free play, or chore cards, or whatever you need.

Here’s some great pinterest links to different kinds of workbox systems and related ideas:

Follow Cathy Mullin’s board Homeschool Workbox System on Pinterest.

Tomorrow’s last essential is to Never Stop Learning.

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