Hey, y’all. Another school year has ended for us here at the Lit Mama Homeschool. We studied All of the Asian countries, even those tiny Middle-Eastern ones that you hear about on the news sometimes and can’t quite place… Oh, yeah, I know where they all are now. Sometimes I think homeschooling does as much for me intellectually as it does for my precious Littles. We didn’t just find out where those countries were, though. We studied their history (boom–history taken care of for the year), their topography (boom–science in the form of geology), their native animals (Oh. yeah. Biology), their art, and their governments. Even their gardens. It was a lot of material, but it covered almost every subject we needed. We journaled about them, so writing was taken care of (though we did English lessons separately). All we had to add was math.
The Littles with their Japanese tea garden in a box
Because I make up all our curricula myself, I am constantly researching things in more depth than I ever learned them in public school. And because we cover such a vast array of material, I also have learned more than I ever did in college. Not to knock my college education. It rocked. If I could go to college forever, I would. Homeschooling is a brilliant substitute. But it’s over for 5 weeks. Summer school doesn’t start until July.
So what am I going to do with all my free time?
What free time?
Sure, I’ve taken a couple days off from All Things School, but I have to jump right back in. I just told you–I plan everything myself. So since I (thank God) already have summer planned, by week’s end I will be pulling out the notes I made throughout the year, looking at the different plans I came up with for next year–there are at least 3, and I probably won’t stick to any single one of them–and diving into the research necessary to start filling out my planner and having everything ready for the day after Labor Day, which is our official start day every year. (Whew, that was a long sentence. Did it make sense?!) Here’s what that looked like last year:
Why yes, yes it is.
I have a lot of tools I use to help this process, and it is not as disorganized as it looks. The first thing I do is make up a school year calendar. I like knowing exactly when we’ll be in school and when we’ll be having a blessed break. It looks like this.
Go ahead. Copy the idea. It helps me tremendously when it comes to day-to-day planning. Plus, it ensures I get the required 180 days of school in. Since my wonderful state requires only that and that I keep attendance, I make sure to follow those rules to the letter so I can keep all this freedom to school my boys as I choose. You’ll notice there are only 3 weeks between our 2 longest breaks. We’ve always used that time (especially since it’s in the middle of the holidays and the Littles’ minds tend to be elsewhere most days) to do a concentrated study on one subject. We’ve done Christmas, dinosaurs, pirates… It’s a fun time for us. It’s also the time when the Littles learn and practice a Christmas play to put on for our extended family. Last year, Littlest wrote the play. And it rocked.
The next thing I do is get out my planning binder. As I do my research and find reading material, projects, experiments, and crafts to add into a class, I have 3 different places to write it all down. Why 3? Because organization. If I am not completely organized, my nature tends toward chaos. I mean, come on, you’re talking to a woman who would rather be immersed in a good story than just about anything else and writes stories of her own… If I don’t concentrate, my thoughts tend to wander. Organization helps me concentrate.
So I have my calendar on the front of the planner. Then a weekly schedule. Then separate tabs for each subject in which there is a daily schedule. And a project/experiment/craft schedule that I can glance at from week-to-week to make sure I have all the needed materials. I can’t tell you how many times that project schedule has saved me. If I check it on Friday afternoon, I have the whole weekend to buy whatever supplies I might need for the next week. It’s really hard to make a solar system with Styrofoam balls if you don’t have any Styrofoam balls.
My Daily Curriculum Planner and Weekly Project Planner are yours for free in my Subscriber Freebies. Just scroll down–they’re toward the bottom. And you might find some other goodies you want to pick up! They look like this:
They aren’t especially pretty, but they’re functional, and I just think that’s more important. 🙂
I plan each class for the year using all of these tools. I jot down on the weekly planner what I want to cover each week, then I get out the daily planners and fill them out in detail. As we approach a new school day, I have everything we’ll be doing for each subject written on that daily planner. Then I pull the projects from the daily planner and add them to the weekly project planner. By the time school starts in September, I am over-prepared.
I fully admit I have a problem. Hi, my name is KT, and I am a plan-a-holic.
So yeah, no such thing as free time here.
Because at some point I have to get the very chaotic classroom cleaned up from this year and ready for next. And that, my dear friends, is my biggest chore of the year.
Now. Will someone please sing something so I can get this damn Alice Cooper song out of my head?