As the school year starts (for us it’s already started!), I usually begin with thoughts of a better year. Better organization, better routines, better attitudes, better…better…
Lofty are my plans, but the execution of them is often a sudden reminder of my limits as one person. We just can’t do it all, right? One thing I’ve learned over the 12 years of homeschooling is that I have to remember to give my children a chance to take over. Recently, I realized that they can cook! I’ve now given them (ages 14 and 11) responsibility of cooking twice a week (each)! Not only does it help me TONS, but it teaches them how to be independent, how to cook, how to plan, etc. My son recently ventured out and made this amazing recipe of prosciutto wrapped chicken with asparagus in a creamy pesto sauce! WOW!
Another area of independence is in our school day. You obviously know that we have created some amazing student planners (check them out here), but it’s not just about “my” planners. You can use a variety of planning/agenda/organizer tools. Matter of fact, there are many, many choices available, but don’t get overwhelmed. You can keep it simple. Just a spiral notebook or a plain piece of paper each day or each week to write out the weekly assignments works fine. Just be consistent!
Why Have a Planner?
Whether your “planner” is a piece of paper, a white board on the wall, post its, or a purchased planner like ours, it’s important that you have a plan and write it down! God instructs us in Habakkuk 2:2 when he says, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Having a goal or a vision is great, but if it’s not written DOWN it usually doesn’t happen. The act of writing down our plan does something for us. We can see it, we can prepare for it, we can accomplish it.
We’ve used all kinds of different approaches to planning and writing down our plans… here are a few from the past:
In the end, these pre-done planners or outlines were great (especially for the young ones), but I found that it took away the part of actually having my children WRITE down their plan. That step of writing down the plan, “making it plain” was important to me, so eventually we evolved into a more traditional planner and the Homeschool Story planners were born!
In Classical Conversations there is a big difference between the Foundations and the Challenge programs. Foundations gives you topics to be memorized and studied each week, but no actual assignments. That part is left up to the parent. Challenge gives the parent/student a guide of specific assignments that are to be done each week. How you break up the assignments is left up to the student/parent. In either case, writing down the plan is VERY important.
Elementary – Grammar Stage
For Foundations, parents need to know ahead of time how they are going to dig deeper into the Memory Work topics. I always suggest just thinking of it as research. Study and research the topics. Read about them, watch videos, take notes, write a summary. That’s all I do for History and Science. Even though I basically do the same steps each week, it helps for me to write it down! What book and which pages are we reading? Which video are we watching and on what day? When do you want to prepare and practice for the presentation?
By having these things written out for each day, you can give your younger children a model to follow. They can copy down the assignment plan into THEIR planner. By doing this, they are learning a very important habit!
See my previous posts about how I plan for Foundations
Middle and High School
In Challenge classes, the students are given assignments that are to be done over the week, but they are not broken down into daily tasks. For example, they might have to write an outline for a paper, or read a novel, or research an artist, but they are not told when to do which tasks. I suggest sitting with your child the day after community day. Take a look at the assignments and help them plan their week. They write out all the little tasks that need to be completed each day in their planner. After that, they are responsible for completing those things. Everyone knows what’s expected and can stay on track.
No matter what you use, I encourage you to have a plan and write it down….and not just you! Have your children write down their plan in their own planner. I promise you’ll see a big difference in how smooth the day goes, the attitudes of the kids, and how much you can get accomplished!
If you’d like to checkout the Homeschool Story Planners, visit our store!
What do you do to help your children take ownership in their day (school and out of school)?