You're searching through your curriculum trying to figure out what you are going to be teaching today.
Your children are running around wild because you haven't given them any instructions and they don't know what is expected of them.
You are working with one child but the other school age ones are fooling around because you didn't have any independant school work set out for them.
The day is already almost gone and you feel like you have nothing to show for it. Does this sound familiar? If so, know that you are not alone. It's not easy homeschooling one child let alone a few.
Believe me I know!
With children ranging from 10 to 2 I know the all too well the stress of trying to educate and care for them all. But I am learning with a little planning and a lot of grace and patience on my part, it can be done. I don't have it down perfectly, but as I desire to be faithful with all God has given me to do I have seen his faithfulness to give me what I need to accomplish everything I am called to do!
I started lesson planning last year and it has drastically helped our school days and my brain run much more smoothly. Granted there are weeks I don't get to it. I mostly know what we need to be doing but it really makes a huge difference when I do lesson plan. When I lesson plan I feel like I have a good grasp on what we are going to be studying, and putting in more prep time allows for a more cohesive learning experience for us all. Of course there are those weeks when I do lesson plan and nothing goes as planned. I am learning to give myself and the kids grace and not get bent out of shape when my well laid plans are thrown to the wind.
When I first started homeschooling I scoured the web; searching for anything that would tell me how to homeschool...exactly. I wanted every detail. Just tell me what to do, because I don't know what I am doing! I found a few blogs and sites that were helpful but most posts were vague. Because really there is no one fits all way to homeschool.
If you are like me and want all the guess work taken out for you then please read on. Of course you will have to fill in a lot of blanks and I won't be able to tell you exactly how to lesson plan, but I hope by sharing what we do, it will get your creative juices flowing. I don't know about you but I need all the help I can get. I feel like I have made a lot of progress the past couple of years, but I still have a long way to go.
This is what is working for me now, but is by no means perfected. How I lesson plan might not work for you, but I hope you are able to come away feeling a little less intimidated by lesson planning if it has been weak point for you.
First things first. You need a lesson planner and of course there are a million different ones out there. I have a hard time when there are so many choices. If I see one that strikes my fancy then I just go for it and change it if I need to. Right now I am using Alicia Hutchinson's Lesson Planner. If you go to my post on it you can get a discount! I like it because it is simple yet has everything I need. It has a calendar, library list, notes, unit studies calendar, attendance sheet, month at a glance, weekly schedule, ideas and plans, quarterly pages and 3 different choices of lesson planning pages. It is only a couple dollars and once you download, you can make as many prints as you need.
I like to take my planner to our school room and then book by book, look and see what chapters we will be on and what we will be studying. I thought I would show you what curriculum I use to make it easier to see how I plan what I do.
How many children you have will determine how you will lesson plan and what kind of planning page you will use. I use the combined student planning page of my planner to write an overview of all that we will be doing for the week. At the end of each day I will write down exactly what we did, because sometimes we don't get to all I planned or we add in other things. I use a separate planning page for Ellie and a combined one for the boys. I use little sticky notes to get to the pages quickly. I try to leave some room for creativity and run with ideas when they come. Having it written all down solidifies it in my mind and takes a lot of stress off of me during our school week.
I usually start out with planning Ellie's school first. I use My Father's World and really love it. Each week is a different letter that goes along with a verse and unit study. We are really having a lot of fun with each week's subject. Sometimes I make it into a unit study for the boys as well. This week is F for frog.
Bible- her verse is "I use my tongue wisely" based off of Proverbs 21:23
Math- we will use a leap frog math game we made/ a math workbook/ Adding with dice/ game of war/ writing number words/ counting by twos/ play store with $/ Number cup
Reading- I use The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading which I love. It tells you what to say and do and I have used it for all my kids and they all know how to read! What more could you want? I also use Bob books and whatever else she wants to read.
Phonics- I use Explode the Code. It has been a great supplement to go along with The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading. She just finished Explode the Code 1 and is now onto Explode the Code 2. I also use the phonics workbook pages that came with the My Father's world Kindergarten set.
Handwriting- I use Handwriting without tears/ My Father's World Sheets and D'Nealian Handwriting and writing notebooks from the $ store.
Science- We cover a lot of science in our My Father's world unit studies and she also participates when I do science and experiments with the older boys. Every other week we have a library day and get books out corresponding with what we are learning in our unit study.
History/ Geography We just finished The My Father's world Exploring Countries and Cultures Cycle which Ellie also did with the older boys. Now we are using The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times
3rd and 5th Grade
For my boys Israel (almost 11) and Judah( almost 9) I use a lot of the same curriculum just different age levels. I do a lot of work and reading with them individually when the other is doing independent work. They also do a lot of school work together.
Bible- We just finished the book of John and are on to Acts now. I or the boys read, I ask them questions about read, we pray together and I pick a verse for us to memorize for the week. Ellie does this with us as well. The two little boys usually play while we do this and often distract us. It can be hard to get them to all sit down together but they are learning to be better behaved the more we do it. I love hearing their prayer requests and it has been such a testimony to them to see some of them answered; even after years of praying.
Math- I use Singapore Math 2B for Judah and 3B for Israel. We also supplement with a lot of hands on games. Math races and speed drills. Singapore offers a free test at the end of each book.
Language/Grammar- I use Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 2 for Judah and Level 3 for Israel. I love these books! They are also by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington who wrote The Ordinary Parents Guide for Teaching Reading. Like that book it also tells you everything you need to say to your student and is in such a great format that you can do most of your work through memorization and copy work in a notebook. These are so ideal in a big family as I can use them over and over again.
Reading- I help the boys pick out books that they are interested in reading and then we are reading a book together. I then have them narrate back to me what we read, they also read out loud and then I dictate to them a paragraph that they write out. I immediately go over what they wrote and have them correct and errors in punctuation and spelling. This has really been working well for us as it's usually like pulling teeth to get my boys to read and write. They have really come a long way!
Writing- For writing I use Writing with Ease which has helped me to know how to teach them and use other reading books to help with their skills as well. My boys are not always motivated to write so I try to have them pick out subjects that they are interested in and write about them. We also get really inspired from Games for writing.
History/ Geography- We are using Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times which I supplement with a lot of online resources. I really like this post that goes through the whole book and has links and ideas for each chapter.
Science- We are using World of Science from My Father's World. I love that it has a Biblical perspective and has experiments that you can do along with each chapter. We also try to watch any shows on Netflix that correspond with what we are studying. If the kids are really enjoying what we are learning we take a little more time and do more of an in depth study. For instance last week we were learning about simple machines so along with it the boys picked out their favorite invention/ inventor and did a little report about it/them.
Computer- We don't really use computer a lot but from time to time I will have them do a learning or typing program or lessons. We do use it a lot to search for information or watch an informative youtube video.
Nature Journal- We love to go out and explore a lot at the beach and parks in the area. We always bring along our nature journals and write about what we saw and draw pictures of what we are studying.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." -Benjamin Franklin
Planning it all out
I am pretty comfortable now with all of our books and know what we will be using each week. I start by going through each book and writing down what Chapters and lessons we will be covering. I try to have the boys do a lot of the same things to keep it easier but tweak it to make it at their individual levels. I then add in any activities that coincide with what we are learning and problem areas I know they need to work on. I keep a list of games and hands on learning activities for each subject. I also have a lot of pins on pinterest that I reference. For instance since I am doing a unit study with Ellie/and the boys about frogs I will look up all the unit studies I have saved about frogs and add in what we can use.
Sometimes we will not do everything that I have planned and sometimes we add in different extracurricular activities and that's okay. I think it's important to find that balance of structure and flexibility, which I am learning day by day.
I also write out a weekly schedule of what subjects we will be doing each day. We usually do not do each subject every day. I would rather really focus on each subject and have quality learning time instead of trying to rush through it and have them not really grasp what we are learning.
My lesson planner also comes with a weekly schedule that I use for this. I place it somewhere the kids can see it like the fridge(excuse my dirty fridge;) or corkboard so they are not constantly asking me what they are doing next. I find they really like to know what is expected of them for that day. Of course there will be days when things will change and they and I need to learn to accept it and not let it derail our day. I generally tweak it every week as I find what works and what doesn't. Ideally I would love to finish school by 1:30 but in real life this doesn't always happen.
I also try to keep a schedule of their chores out where they can see so they have no excuse to say we didn't know what we were supposed to do. They usually know what they have to do but always need reminding. Any time I teach them how to do a new chore i.e. laundry, cooking, cleaning. I add it in my planner as a life lesson/skill they learned. They also do a lot of activities with their Dad i.e. fishing, hunting, carpentry, gardening, beekeeping; that I are a very important part of their education that are worth recording.
Now that I have gotten into a good routine of doing this every week, it has gotten easier and easier and only takes me about 20-30 minutes. In the long run it saves me so much time in the upcoming week. Instead of wasting time trying to get everything ready and figure out what each child needs to be doing. I can look at my lesson plans and get right to it and writing it down helps me remember it better also.
In the state of Florida our only requirements are to keep track of what we are doing every day and get an evaluation each year of our school work, so I try to be very thorough in this. I know in each state it is different. I do some tests myself to see where they are at and also some chapter tests but for the most part I don't really grade them. I do keep an attendance record of how many days we do school.
I typically lesson plan Friday afternoon or on the weekend. Right now Luke my 2 year old is sleeping, Ellie and Simeon are watching Netflix and Josh is out with the big boys fishing. I could not imagine a better time to be lesson planning. It's a miracle! I know that it's not always possible to have a quiet house but it is definitely more ideal to find some time to do your lesson planning when you will not be interrupted.
If you have been struggling with lesson planning or lack thereof, I hope this gives you some ideas and helps you to plan your way to a more joyful and smoother running homeschool week!
Ultimately we have to commit even the littlest of plans to the Lord and ask him to bless them. You can have the best lesson plans and school schedule but still lack joy and peace if you are not laying everything before him.
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3 NIV
"Many are the plans in a person's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 NIV
Do you lesson plan?
What planner do you use?
What areas do you struggle in?
What have you found that helps you lesson plan? I would love to hear!!
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