Finding an online homeschool planner should not have been so hard. It should not have driven me to the verge of tears. It should not have made me SCREAM multiple times, but it did. It was tedious to say the least.I didn’t think I had too many requirements, but it seems that I was asking for a lot.
What time should you start your homeschooling day? This is a common source of anxiety for many homeschooling families. It was for us as well. Having come from a traditional school background (I was a teacher for five years before leaving to homeschool The Tornado), I was used to waking up at 5:00 AM to begin my day. That meant the she was awake that early as well. Our bedtime ritual began at 5:00 PM and she was usually asleep by 5:30 PM. I was also attending graduate school so between lesson planning, grading, and writing/reading for grad school, my nights did not end until much later. And we were all miserable.
When I left teaching the first change I made to our lives was to increase the amount of sleep we got. My daughter has always been a good sleeper so that wasn’t an issue. But I suffer from insomnia and struggle to fall asleep. Once I do, I can sleep for fourteen hours with no problem. Unfortunately, I rarely (even now) get more than six hours, and that’s being generous. Dealing with poor sleep health and trying to homeschool while cranky and exhausted made for pretty bad experiences.
At first, I thought that we had to start our homeschooling day on a “normal” schedule. We awoke around 8:00 AM and homeschooled right after breakfast. But it did not work for us. I work from home and need time to deal with business during regular business hours. The Tornado is not a morning person either, much like her parents. She struggles to focus in the early day and we both do better when we have a chance to ease into the day.
The solution for us was to start our homeschooling day in the early afternoon. We usually start at 1:00 PM, but we are flexible with that. Some days we manage to start earlier, most days it’s later. What I have learned is that we do what works for us and I no longer feel guilt of shame that I am not “normal” schedule homeschooler. When it comes to preparing our daughter for the real world, my husband and I believe that it is more important to teach her to do what she needs to do to meet the goals that she has set for herself. That means if she takes a job that begins at 8:00 AM, then she will know that she has to plan her life accordingly. Additionally, I think it’s important for her to know that she does not have to do things like everyone else. She can create a life of herself that best fits her body-clock.
So. what time should you begin your homeschooling day? At whatever time works for you.
What do you think? When do you begin?
This has been an interesting year! When we began homeschooling this year, things were going rather smoothly! I even did a video about how I planned and shared my weekly sheets that I created to help keep us on track. However, the thing is, often, the best-laid plans go awry when life kicks it up a notch. I worked hard at creating a system I believed was going to work had our year progressed in the same manner in which it began. Sometimes, things happen, and you have to step back to start anew.
You may remember that I was running my web design and social media business. I was working on six-week projects with concrete start and finish dates, and I had more time to homeschool all day if needed. Then, my husband and I decided that I would look for full-time employment that I could do from home. NextRep offered me a position as a customer service agent with their team. The work required that I train during a set time but then provide service during a pretty flexible schedule. Unfortunately, answering calls in my bedroom, as opposed to an office, was challenging and made what could have been a GREAT job a nightmare (the perils of downsizing from a three-bedroom to a two-bedroom). As I contemplated using my MS degree to go back into the classroom, I was contacted by a company with whom I had previously applied for a Social Media Manager position. They were looking for someone to work full-time and not necessarily from home. However, after the initial meeting, it became apparent that it was a great fit.
I now work about thirty-six hours a week for a steady, reliable income. I began the job two weeks before Christmas, and I was rolling full-steam ahead from the very beginning. I also continue to do web design as I have a few obligations to complete before deciding if I want to close my shop permanently.
Starting in a new position left, what amounts to, microscopic time for homeschooling in the way that I had planned. That is not true. I could have continued with the schedule and planning, but it was not in our best interest. Between ADD, depression, and anxiety (all mine), I decided that the best thing to do would be to sign Mya up for Time4Learning. I was hesitant at first because we had previously tried this online curriculum only to discover that Mya figured out how to buck the system (she’d click through really quickly for 30 minutes just to play the games). After reviewing the curriculum again, and deciding that because she was older now, she would be better able to understand the requirements, we signed her up again.
Within two months it became apparent that she was not retaining any information and that her learning style is not conducive to an independent, online, curriculum. I did what any parent would, and I cancelled our subscription and turned to something else. For the most part, we have been using the materials I had chosen at the beginning of the year and doing so in a very flexible manner. Rather than the massive amounts of scheduling like I was doing early on, I now make lists.
Enter the Bullet Journal.
Planning and organizing are a task that most people avoid.I love it but understand that it is stressful and requires too many components to ensure that I am doing things correctly. It’s not necessarily difficult. It’s just that there are so many options. Here were my requirements.
- A system that helped keep things neat.
- One book that I could carry around and that is it; a system that was simple and condense. I have been using a Passion Planner for two years which is a goals oriented planner for my everyday life and the Our Classroom Planner that I made and sell on Teachers Pay Teachers for homeschooling. But the truth is that it’s just too hard to keep track of EVERYTHING.
- A system that allowed me to utilize my natural desire to brain dump and list the things that I needed to do while providing flexibility and ease.
- No stickers
- No cute spread layouts.
- A simple pen and pencil system
The Bullet Journal is that system. It allows me to create the lists that I need (To Do List; Shopping Lists,; Book Log; Homeschooling Projects; Menus, etc,) all in one place. There is an index so that I can find things quickly and even with a massive migraine like the one I have had for almost two weeks, I can check things off without having to look at the glare of the screen. It works for me, and I’m shocked that I haven’t utilized it sooner.
If you are interested in how learning more about the Bullet Journal, head over to my personal blog and read 11 Tips for Starting a Bullet Journal Quickly.
Before moving across country in December 2012, I made sure to request and receive a copy of my daughter’s medical records. It took two weeks for them to copy and send them to meso I was glad that I asked for them in early November. Having been through numerous hospital ER trips due to respiratory issues and a hospital stay for pneumonia, I knew that it would be important to have her records in hand and to familiarize myself with what was in those records. While we are homeschooling and do not have to meet school immunization requirements, I wanted to ensure that I had her full immunization history along with the delayed schedule arrangements that we made previously.
I also want to be prepared because being organized in case of an emergency is necessary. In NY, my husband was responsible for taking The Tornado to the doctor for her Well Baby Visits, but I was the organizer of information and keeper of the questions-to-ask. Should something happen to me, it is imperative that he have all the information needed to facilitate the care of our daughter, but it is also important that that information be accessible to her caregivers should something happen to both her dad and me.
Fast forward to today. The Tornado had a physical with a new physician today and I arrived prepared. The office staff was really happy and thanked me for making their jobs easier. In fact, they were so happy that I left there feeling like a RAWKSTAR!
Here’s how you can ensure that you too are ready to be pro-active in your child’s medical care:
- Be Informed: request a copy of your child’s medical records. Some offices will provide this free of charge, but many will charge. Pay the fee to have the copies made. You don’t want the summaries, you want the full records with the doctor’s notes and lab results if any. And when you receive this copy, READ IT. Make sure you understand what is going on with your child’s health. Look for discrepancies or things that you would like to have clarified. Remember doctors and nurses are human and can make mistakes.
- Simplify: Chances are you now have a lot of information. You will want to simplify this information by transferring it to a more concise form. To do this, you can use this chart here: Medical History Summary (.docx). Once you complete this make copies for your home, your Emergency Contact, and your childcare provider, and the person who will be responsible for your child should something happen to you and your spouse.
- Complete a Immunization Record: You want to keep track of your child’s immunizations (and any reactions should they occur). If you haven’t been doing this, don’t fret. You can get this information from the file that you asked your doctor for in step one. This is the form that I used, but you may need to edit it to fit your needs/information: Child Immunization Record (.docx). Be sure to make copies and distribute to all parties as necessary.
- Medicine: If your child is on daily medication, you will want to have a sheet for that too. Here is a form that you can use as well: Prescribed Medicine History.
- New Doctor: If you are are heading to a new doctor, ask if there are New Patient Forms and/or Pediatric forms that will need to be completed at the first visit. If there are and they have a way for you to download them, do so. Take the time prior to your appointment to complete these forms as thoroughly as possible. If you wait until the visit, you will feel rushed and will forget something.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
I’m in the process of planning for the new school year. That’s actually not true because I have decided to nix school years and just think of each year as a new session. So I am planning for our next session. In doing so, a friend from our homeschooling co-op introduced me to two blogs: Ed Snapshots and Amongst Lovely Things. I have been reading various posts on both blogs and noticed that I have never posted my Homeschooling Goals. These goals are what I want my daughter to learn and gain through our choice to homeschool. These are things that I firmly believe that she could not gain in an institutional school setting.
- I want my child to have a strong sense of self. To know who she is and from where she came and to understand what makes her unique. I want her to have faith in her ability to do her best and put forth a valiant effort. That perfection does not exist but that she should take pride in her work. And I want her to remain humble and grateful.
- I want her to have a solid grasp of her likes and dislikes while knowing that it is never to late to makes changes.
- I want my daughter to communicate well both orally and in writing. I want her to have a strong vocabulary and the confidence to share her thoughts and feelings and to know that self-expressions is a great source of freedom.
- I want her to question and to seek knowledge. I want her to remain curious and reflective while understanding the interconnectedness of all that she encounters. I want her to be open to different perspectives while using what helps/works from those to formulate her own. I want her to seek out the stories of her elders and to respect the knowledge gained from experience to guide her through life.
- I want her to appreciate culture (art, music, food/cooking, fashion, dance, etc.) and engage in these things openly for fun and knowledge.
- I want her to develop a love of reading and the written word. I want to her read and be able to discuss the classics as well as more contemporary works. I want her to be able to discuss the works of well-known writers while also looking to the lesser known ones for inspiration and understanding of the greater world.
- I want her to develop a love of language and to learn multiple languages through study and travel.
- I want her to have a working and accurate knowledge of history and geography and to be able to discuss the contributions of traditionally marginalized people.
- I want her to love and respect nature and the universe and the wonders of science and to see herself (and humans) not as the center of the universe but as one of many within it.
- I want her to have a strong working knowledge of financial security while understanding that happiness does not come from the amount of money one makes. I want her to be at ease with numbers and basic calculations so that she can make wise decisions about her finances.
- I want her to maintain her imagination and to use that to help effect positive change in the world.
- I want her to actively pursue physical and healthy activity and to respect her body and her mind.
- I want her to explore her world and to never be afraid to encounter change.
- I want her to be compassionate, empathetic, and accepting of others. I want her to understand that if one is to be free, than all must be free. Freedom is a right granted to all who share and occupy the universe.
- I want her understand what a healthy relationship/family/friendship is and to have fond memories of her time with her family. I want her to value her friendships and her family while creating healthy boundaries and taking time for self-care. And I want her to know that any relationship that she wishes to have will take work and requires nourishment.
What are your homeschooling goals?
Image Credit: Ky from Flickr
We are gearing up to start homeschooling again after a sporadic year of not meeting the goals I set for first grade. While we have settled in nicely here in Arizona, the move left us struggling to finish all of the lessons that we started last June. So, this year, taking into account that we are no longer in a crazy reporting state like NY, we have decided to rewrite the requirements for second grade to accommodate two grades in one. Here is what our schedule looks like for the next six weeks (more on that in a minute):
Go ‘head; click on it and see just how crazy I am. No seriously, it looks like a lot but we are good at getting through everything as long as we prepared. And as long as we work together. Speaking of working together, my husband and I started a business with another homeschooling mom and although getting a business started is hard, being here at home is the best thing that happened to our homeschooling family.
Back to the six-week plan that I mentioned above. We have decided to school six-weeks on and two weeks off this year. This way we can set short measurable goals and then revamp accordingly. And because I really wanted to plan ahead, I found that six weeks is a reasonable amount of time in which to complete a full unit. The best thing about all of this is that because my husband loves schedules, he was game to help map this our.
Now about the actual content. My daughter turned seven in April and technically that means she would be in second grade in an institutional school. Well, she is, by skill level very much above grade level. She is doing some third grade math and science and has been reading and understanding chapter books since she was five. For the fun of it, she took a second grade standardized test and scored above average in everything. So I am not worried at all about her being behind. However, because we strayed away from classical education last year (and lived in chaos) we did miss some fundamental. In an effort to ease our minds mine and my husband’s that is, we have decided to slow down and backtrack a little.
Our Six Week Firsecond Grade Curriculum is as follows:
(Our subject spines are listed first followed by supplements. These are mostly affiliate links, so thanks in advance)
- A History of Us (AHOU)
- If You Lived Series (IYL) – this link goes to the search page on Amazon as there a many different books from which to choose.
- Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding – Earth Science and more (BFSU)
- More Mudpies to Magnets – one of my favorite for activities (MM2M)
- Human Body Detectives (Homeschool Buyers Co-Op had a great deal and it ended 8/8. But they may be having one again soon so check often) (HBD)
- Family Time Fitness – great program for those not quite sure what to cover in Phys Ed. And while you can just get your kids to play sports or run around outside, this teaches the proper way to exercise as well as a host of other lessons. (FTF)
Spelling and Vocabulary
- All About Spelling – Level 2 – I love this program. My daughter loves this program. My husband? Not so much! But it works and we will keep using it for as long as it does! (AAS)
- Wordly Wise 3000 – We do not use the online version of this program because we like workbooks. The link is to purchase the online version.
- First Language Lessons – Finishing Level 1 and Starting Level 2 (FLL1 and FLL2)
- Growing With Grammar – Level 2 (maybe)
- Rosetta Stone – Spanish Level 1 – On sale now for up to 35% off depending on which bundle you purchase. Best deal ever! (RS-S)
- Rosetta Stone – Latin Level 1 (RS-L)
- Meet the Masters (MtM)
We will be using other materials in each category as well, but these are our major books. Now, it may seem ambitious, and I know, our days are packed to the brim, but we work so much better this way. I’m going to share my actual 6-week plan next too.
And be sure to check out what other homeschoolers are using in the 2013 Not Back to School Blog Hop!