Last week I spent my time gathering all my resources for the upcoming school year. I lined everything up, took a good look at it all, and used my awesome new planner to make a long-range plan for next year. Because I was able to see the whole year laid out, it gave me peace about our homeschool. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I won’t have bouts of self-doubt and throw something out the window once the new year gets started. It just means that there is a plan. If the plan has to change some, that’s ok. But, I now have a roadmap for the upcoming year (even if we do take a couple of detours along the way).
Now that the long-term planning is done, I have to start daily homeschool planning. This part used to be painstaking, boring, and downright miserable. I’m a planner. I need concrete plans (even if I don’t always follow them) so I won’t get behind, and I won’t skip things that I feel are important. I used to spend days trying to put all my lesson plans into some type of planner and then it would all fall apart when I tried to move something to another day. I was exhausted. My husband thought I was insane to spend this much time planning. And honestly, I had to agree with him. That’s when I decided enough was enough. Surely someone had invented a planner that would do all this work for me.
It turns out they did.
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Online Daily Homeschool Planning
Out of desperation, I began to research online homeschool planners. I knew I wanted an online planner because I wanted to be able to access my plans anywhere I was (like ballet or archery practice), and I also wanted to be able to reuse my plans with the younger kids. So, online seemed the way to go. I tested a few and picked my favorite, Homeschool Tracker. I finally found a planner that would do most everything I wanted and needed. **Side Note**: As a former accountant, I have an unusual love of spreadsheets and all their number goodness, so I may be a bit over-the-top with my planner wish-list.
I use Homeschool Tracker for weekly and daily homeschool planning. It is not what I use for long-range planning, though it can be utilized for that. It includes all my details and, personally, I don’t want that in my long-range plans. Homeschool Tracker is also terrific for organizing the books and resources that you use throughout the school year. Honestly, it has a ton of uses, and I don’t use all of them. What I love about it though, is the ability to create a year’s worth of lesson plans in minutes. Not days. Minutes!
How I Plan an Entire Year in a Few Minutes
Planning an entire year’s worth of lesson plans is a snap with Homeschool Tracker’s “Lesson Plan Add Multiple Items” function. The great thing about this multiple add function is that you can put in all the daily lessons at one time. The program will increment the lessons by any number of days, lesson number, chapter, or any other division you need.
Once you have all your information entered, a preview will appear on your screen. All the new items will be inserted into your existing lesson plan (which is shaded out). You can choose to approve all the new items or just some of them.
I do this for each subject or curriculum we will be working on for the year. Generally, this takes me a couple of hours for each child for the entire school year. But, there are some other great functions that have made this even easier. One of these is the Shared Lesson Plans function.
I used the Shared Lesson Plans function for our Apologia Biology Lesson Plans. Someone else had created some fantastic lesson plans and saved them for others to use. All I had to do was copy them to our lesson plans. Why reinvent the wheel?
The 10 Minute Weekly Schedule
Once all the plans are in Homeschool Tracker’s Lesson Plans, all that’s left is scheduling them into our weekly calendar. There are several options that you can choose from to do this, but once you are done you will have this awesome calendar with assignments that can be moved by day and block. You can even choose different colors for each child.
I love this calendar. I use it daily to refer to what I have planned for the week, to reschedule things as necessary, to enter any grades, and mark items as complete. As you can see at the top, Homeschool Tracker also tracks the time each child spent doing school work that day. I can print this out later for our state attendance records. Next year this will be even more important as my oldest will be starting some high school courses that we will need to track carefully.
**Side Note** I don’t schedule our entire year in our calendar at the beginning of the school year. This would require a lot of work if we need to reschedule items due to unforeseen changes to our schedule. I usually just schedule one week at a time. What that generally looks like in our homeschool is me spending a few minutes on Sunday evening scheduling the week while checking my home calendar for appointments and other items that I might need to add to our school calendar.
The Daily Task Sheet
So, now that you have all these awesome plans and schedules what do you do with them? How are your kids to know what is expected of them?
Again, Homeschool Tracker has several options. One that we will be trying this year with the middle schooler is the option for her to go online and see her own calendar and to mark items as complete as she does them. This gives her some responsibility for her own education. She can see what she needs to complete this week to not fall behind. She can choose to do those tasks all at one time or spread them over the week like they are scheduled. I’m relishing her taking on some of this responsibility.
Another option is the Daily Task Sheet. This task sheet has been a staple of our homeschool for years. I’ve printed it out for the kids, so they have a checkbox and have an idea of what we will be working on this week. We discuss this in our Morning Meetup each day. This year we are trying something new.
Each of my girls wanted their own planners, so I let them pick their own. The tween wanted the Apologia Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens. She loves the idea of keeping up with all her tasks in her own pretty planner (and she likes using washi tape). So, this year I’m just printing out the Daily Task Sheet for myself and letting the girls keep up with their own planners.
I print it out at 85%, hole-punch it, and slip it into my Happy Planner. And, voilà, planning for the week is done.
Curious about long-range homeschool plans, Morning MeetUp, and more planning? Hop on over to The Ultimate Guide to Low-Stress Homeschool Planning and Scheduling for some great planning tips.