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?
Free Homeschooling is possible! Welcome to my new series. I will try to post this weekly.
The truth is that homeschooling can be very expensive if you get caught up purchasing tools and supplies. Luckily, there are numerous free resources available to help keep your budget from bursting at the seams. Here are are few of my favorite.
This is a full online-curriculum that allows students to learn independently online. You can change grades at any time by emailing the organizers or, if you upgrade to a premium account, through your on-line Parent Dashboard. This curriculum covers all subjects and the lessons are broken up by day (180 days) and your child can begin at any time. You do not have to do every lesson and we use it when things get busy around here. For the most part, this is a supplemental curriculum for us but it can be used as a spine.
Free online textbooks and online practice for children. Hevaily focused on STEM. Completely free but registration required. I print these out when I use them as my daughter learns better when she can highlight, take notes on, or write directly on the material.
Interactive learning tools that help supplement lessons. While not a full curriculum, the information here is invaluable. These resources are all interactive and are more or less available for use on PC/Macs, iPads, Android Tablets, and other mobile devices. Search by subject available. All resources here are completely free.
What are your favorite free resources? Please share in the comments!
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.
When I was teaching High School English back in 2005, another teacher used Weekly Sheets to keep her students informed about what would be happening in the upcoming week. It was a practice many of us quickly adapted, myself included. I never thought to use it in our homeschooling mainly because it required that I be certain about what was going to happen… and that’s where I fail!
I have a HUGE problem with staying consistent in everything that I do. With homeschooling, I begin with Big Fat Hairy Goals (a term that I took from my time as a New York Teaching Fellow), but then I miss a day, and that turns into a week, and then it seems like everything is just out of whack. When I began planning for this year, I realized that in order to stay consistent, I needed to be (1) realistic (2) organized (3) focused (4) and fluid.
So once I planned out my six week block, I knew that I could produce weekly sheets that would move us forward by keeping us on track. The sheet is pretty self-explanatory and while I create them in advance, I do not give them to my daughter until we begin the week. This way if there is something that we did not get to that needs to be added, I can do so.
The Tornado loves having the sheets in her binder. She is able to see what we are doing and because I include her spelling and vocabulary words for the week, she can review quickly.
You can download the free Weekly Sheet template (a PowerPoint file) at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
It seems like I am always changing up the way I do things and I am. Reflection and adaptation are the two words that motivate my homeschooling efforts. I remain open minded about, and aware of, my strengths and weaknesses. To that end, we have revamped our homeschooling this year. Check out my video on YouTube that explains what we are doing, why, and how you can get started.
Leave a comment if you have any questions.
The first run of The World is Our Classroom is available for download at the new website http://ourclassroomplanner.com/. It’s free for the first 20 customers and then it will go on sale for $15.00. Head over and get yours now!
Here is a look at the inside of the planner. As of now, I am going to be offering the planner for free as a download. It will include the 12 month calendar sheets (religious holidays are not noted) and then 1 copy of each sheet. That way you can print it and punch holes in it if you would like. Eventually, I am going make the pages editable in Adobe, but I never intended to so that is not a priority as of now.
Love to hear your thoughts!
[book id=’5′ /]
I have designed a paper Homeschooling Planner (Year-round) that offers the following:
-52 Weeks of Gratitude Chart
-Year at a Glance (June 2012 – July 2013)
-Importing Reporting Dates (Fill-in)
-Family Read-Aloud Book List (fits 40)
-Family Field Trips List
-Student Info (for up to 4 children)
-Homeschooling Goals (up to 4 children)
-Subject Time Log (7 days/wk for up to 4 children for 52/wks)
-12 Dated Monthly Calendars from June 2012 through May 2013
– Weekly Schedule (summary- up to 4 children for 52/wks)
-Daily Planning (detailed up to 4 children for 184 days)
What else would you like to have in your Planner?
I am finding that as much as I want to stay free to do things as they come, my daughter and I are both schedule people. We like to know what we are doing and when it is going to be over. So, with that in mind, Andrew and I have mapped our schedule for the school year which for us will start on September 11. Keep in mind that we are flexible and while our days seem pretty packed, I have even scheduled meals, snacks, naps, and free time. I work from home so things have to fit around my work schedule and this seems best. Mondays are a light day because I actually go into the office then and Saturdays we are reserving as a day for us to complete what we don’t finish. Sundays are scheduled but will be mostly field trip or activity days because that is when my husband is off from work (Sun, Mon, Tuesday, usually).
Now you may be wondering what Life Skills entails. That would be making our beds, washing up, brushing teeth, getting dressed, meditation, emptying the dishwasher and of course, breakfast. This is the time we chat and prepare to start the day. We have also scheduled Free Play (those are the times that I know my daughter needs a break from work and from me. That’s also the time for me to check into work very quickly.) Dinner is later on our schedule, but we will probably eat much earlier (like around 6). After dinner, I have also scheduled Reading for Fun – just time for us to sit reads books together or separately, and to relax. This is down time.
How do you plan your homeschooling Day?
Let me back track a little to give you an idea of what our lives are like now. I actually design websites and do social media consulting for a living. For the last year, I was the social media manager for a regional food chain. When that position ended, the Media Agency offered me a full-time position as a Social Media Manager for a rather large parent company whose three major brands needed social media revitalization. I head to the office one day a week and my normal 25-hour-a-week work schedule would turn into a 45-50 hour a week one. Additionally, I still do a little web design on the side. Did I mention that we are also doing renovations on my mother-in-laws house and moving in with her to help her with her bills? Life has been crazy.
In the midst of all of this, we are looking forward to the new school year. There is nothing more exciting than its promise. With it comes new books, supplies, and a wish to get it right this time. I know, we homeschool all year around and began Kindergarten back in June. Truthfully, we have had one of those summers that is chaotic and has left us begging for a normal schedule. So, after finalizing most of our Kindergarten curriculum, we decided to take a minute to just regroup. This also meant that we would take a moment to buy all the supplies that we need to meet the school year head on!
A friend of mine, Yakini, commissioned me to do graphic design job for her and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get some of the supplies we needed. I and Andrew created wish lists on Amazon for each subject and filled these lists with all the books and other items that we would need to get through the year. I asked Yakini to buy items off of the wish lists and not give me cash that I would spend elsewhere. It has proven to be a great idea! Look at what came in the mail today:
After reading the awesome blog posts and curriculum summary over at Satori Smiles, I purchased The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) and devoured it in less than two days. I LOVE the classical approach to homeschooling but definitely believe that it needs should be tweaked a little (we love art, music, and learning to express our emotions).
Here are our
curriculum TOOLS for the Kindergarten School Year 2011-2012. We are using a variety of resources including the Calvert Pre-K curriculum that I purchased last year but did not use in its entirety as I realized that All-in-One products are not for us. Keep in mind that Art and Music portions are missing as well as a few other things that we are going to be including in the future. I will add them as soon as we figure those out.
In our home, I am the primary homeschooler, but Daddy participates as much as possible (which is often). He created the Math, Science, and Logic sections our curriculum!
Please note that when possible we use affiliate links because Momma’s gotta make money! If you choose to buy any of the resources here, please do so by clicking through using our links…. Thanks a bunch!
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (TYC) –
5x/week; main coursework
- Explode the Code (ETC) –
3x/week;We do one letter sound a day, roughly about 12 pages.
- Various Early Reader Books
Supplements used on occasion:
- Progressive Phonics: For everything! Completely free and full of phonics goodness.
- Jumpstart.com – Subscription based service that provides a plethora of learning games.
- Your Baby Can Read – really good books, flashcards, and video supplements. We will use the books and flashcards for on the go sight word practice.
- Starfall.com – free site that we will use when I need to work.
- Calvert: We have the Calvert Curriculum for Pre-K but it has a lot of good material for literature. We will use this as our primary curriculum.
- LibriVox: Free Audiobooks (recordings of books in the Public Domain)
- Various Read-alouds
- HWT K – “Letters and Numbers For Me”:
5x/weekM has known how to write her letters since she was 2 but she needs a lot of help with writing neater on between lines. We are going to use HWT because it seems like it is the best program. We also already have the chalkboard thanks to my sister-in-law who is a Teacher’s Assistant.
Supplements used on occasion
- Various handwriting worksheets and activity books: We will use these for more practice.
- Plain Composition Notebooks: we urge her to write all day. We play word games and connect the dots and more.
- RightStart Math A –
3-4x/week. $45 for the lesson book and $5 for the worksheet book. No need to by the kit since we have most of the manipulatives and/or can buy from teaching store. Will give an outline for what must be accomplished and will tailor lessons based on strong/weak points.
- Singapore EarlyBird –
1-2x/week. Textbook A & B $22 ea. Activity book A & B $16.50 ea. Highly rated homeschooling resource that again can offer backbone outline and lesson plan.
Supplements used on occasion
- iXL– free web-based site that offers interactive Math questions.
- MathBlaster.com (from Jumpstart.com): LOVE this! Subscription-based math games.
- Kidzone free printable Math worksheets
- Math is Fun another site offering free printable Math worksheets
- K Basic Math Workbook: We only have the workbook as I purchased it second-hand but I like the exercises.
Math Reading Books (The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition))
- Burns, Marilyn. Greedy Triangle. New York: Scholastic, 2008.
- Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno’s Multiplying Jar. New York: Paper Star, 1999.
- Murphy, Stuart J. Divide and Ride. New York: Harper Trophy, 1997.
- McGinley-Nally, Sharon. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All: A Mathematical Story. New York: Scholastic, 2008.
- Neushwander, Cindy. Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure. Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2002.
- Axelrod, Amy. Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math & Money. New York: Alladdin, 1997.
- Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2 by Bernard J Nebel – 1-2x a week. $24.10 Offers an organized sampling of the many different areas of Science.
- Science Discovery–
1-2x a week. Free Web Based Pre-K and Kindergarten Science Lessons.
- Regular Trips to the Zoo
Supplements used on occasion
- Science Arts: Discovering Science Through Art Experiences (Bright Ideas for Learning), by MaryAnn F. Kohl. $12.89 great lesson ideas that teach art and science at the same time.
- Activities for Kids free web site that provides Kindergarten Science Activities
- Educational Toy Factory another free web site that offers Kindergarten Science Projects.
- Williams, Robert A. Mudpies to Magnets. Mt. Ranier, Md.: Gryphon House, 1987.
- Williams, Robert A. More Mudpies to Magnets. Mt. Ranier, Md.: Gryphon House, 1990.
- Rockwell, Robert E., et al. Everybody Has a Body: Science from Head to Toe. Mt. Ranier, Md.: Gryphon House, 1992.
- Early Learning Skills (Master Skills)–
1x a week. $6.95 Workbook that used to strengthen thinking skills
- Lollipop Logic: Critical Thinking Activities,
1x a week.$10.36. Worksheets and activities that focus on 7 different thinking skills
- Virtual Perceptual Skill Building Book 1,
1x a week. $25.
- Kindergarten Prehistory by Raising Science – this is a $6 curriculum that guides us through what The Tornado will need to know before we delve into history.
- Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History
Supplements used on Occasion (Forthcoming)
- Nature Walks and Scavenger Hunts
- Swimming (Seasonal)
- Sports Skills and Gymnastics @ The Little Gym
- Bike Riding
- Zumba and other dance classes
- Wii Active Life Outdoor Challenge
- Wii Dance Dance Revolution
- Wii EA Active and More EA Active
- Wii Michael Jackson: the Experience
As a member of the SecularHomeschooling.com, I am finding so many resources to add to my homeschooling collection. Recently, I came across a post in which a member shared the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Award Program. It was a timely find too as I just shared my family’s love of reading! Here are a few details from the site:
Acknowledging the value of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ appreciation of classic literature for young people, the Mensa Foundation is providing a year-round challenge to kids of all ages based on the NEH’s “Summertime Reading” list.
That’s not really true. We have been homeschooling since my daughter was 2.5. This past year (albeit very sporadically) we used the Calvert curriculum (PreK) level mixed with a lot of stuff that I created and some fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants ingenuity. We have been trying to find our footing, but with big changes in the near future regarding our housing situation, I have decided to start planning for The Tornado’s kindergarten year.
The truth is that because we are moving I have struggled with the decision to homeschool The Tornado. I am tempted to send her to kindergarten because it would be nice if they taught her all the stuff that I loathe, phonics, how to use scissors, and patience, but I know deep in my heart that homeschooling is in her best interest. I admit that as an only child, she is often alone and lonely and she longs for the “fun” that seems to be had in school by the numerous TV children who attend. BUT I know that there are ways to combat and I have a plan.
And this blog will help keep us going.