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Ausmumof3

Planning - electronic versus paper

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And structured versus free flowing.

 

Please help me think this through. I keep switching back and forward between planning methods and I can't fully decide which works.

 

Phone apps

Pros

Love the home routines app

Always have my phone with me

Can work when I'm out and about

Can fill in the calendar immediately and schedule stuff that's ongoing without writing it in each week

 

Cons

Haven't found an app that works well for making me a timetable

Haven't found an app that works well for school planning. Tried Evernote and it was too messy. I really like apps that are clean and simple.

Phone backup has issues and I'm worried I'll lose it all

 

Paper based

Pros

I can make it as big as I need

Handwriting relaxes my brain and gives me time to think it through as I go

I can have a printed timetable and calendar very visible which is helpful else I forget everything

 

Cons

Takes longer

I have to carry an extra notebook with me everywhere and possibly a diary as well

 

iPad

Pros

Same as the phone

Bigger screen

Cons

Kids use it a lot and it's hard to keep charged

It's heavy

It's an extra thing to carry

 

I can't figure out what I want. I'd gone almost totally electronic when the bullet journaling thread came up and I tried that. But if course all my stuff is already on my phone. The biggest downside with my phone is that I tend to get distracted as soon as I pick it up.

 

My other issue is one we all deal with. I tend to either be extremely structured or extremely unstructured. When I work with structure I get too rigid but we get done what needs doing. When I work with no structure the kids get a lot more fun unaccredited learning opportunities but the house ends up in a mess and we get behind on the basics. I'd like to achieve a more loose structure but I don't know how to get there. I seem to be an all or nothing person. I think a part of the problem is that to keep up with basics properly I don't actually have much unscheduled time left.

 

Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas to help with any of this?

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Sounds like you want an all in one - same system for both personal and school planning. I ended up splitting last year - personal:paper, school:online.  

 

I use bullet journaling for my personal planning (paper based - I need to be able to see it, or it doesn't exist in my mind). I also like the physical act of writing. It helps me to process my thoughts.

 

For school I use Scholaric. It is online, cloud based, inexpensive (depending on how many kids you have). I have never tried the mobile interface (I usually use it via desktop) but the desktop UI, while not beautiful, is intuitive and easy to use.  The response time of the UI is decently fast and I've yet to find a bug.  It helps me to do advanced planning for school and to juggle 2 kids.  Scholaric offers a free trial (I think 15 days?). It's $4/month for the first child, $3/month for each additional.

I find the online school planning helpful because I can plan further in advance without having to rewrite everything if one thing goes off schedule. Last year I was using paper based planning but it was such a hassle to recopy everything if one thing went off.  I also like Scholaric because I can print a copy for my DD each morning, and she can just run with the plan on her own while I work with my younger one.

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Thanks for the recommendation! I'll look at it now. Free trial is important to me because although I don't mind paying for the time and effort out into good software design I've been caught having paid for stuff that definitely didn't do what it said it would.

 

I am happy to separate them out - I have tried to do everything in one before and that didn't work well and is part of the problem.

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I switched to Homeschool Planet through homeschool buyer's coop because I needed to be able to plan pretty far out, be able to change one thing without changing other things and not have to rewrite all the time. I am a paper and pencil person but this has been a huge help. And DD loves getting a color coded printed list of not only her academics for the day but anything else on our agenda.

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You might need a combination of things.

 

I use OneNote via tablet or desktop for school planning, grocery lists, and any other free flowing lists and notes (like, the Thanksgiving dinner menu, my to do lists, etc.). It can be either structured or unstructured.

 

I do sometimes use paper for lists, but largely I use OneNote.

 

I could put a calendar on OneNote, but I haven't yet. Don't really know why. I use the calendar feature on my iPad for stuff because it sends me little pop up reminders to check library books, someone had an appointment, etc. I do also have a paper calendar on my fridge so I can write things quickly before transferring them to the iPad calendar.

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I puffy heart love my google calendar on my tablet for personal planning and scheduling. I also keep some long term list/idea type stuff on One Note.

 

As far as school goes, I do have Excel spreadsheets with long term curriculum ideas/plans. But although I've tried some computer based stuff for our daily school lesson plans, it just doesn't work as well for me as my big ole paper binder when it comes to the day to day. But then I just have it listed as "what comes next" with no dates attached, so if we get off it doesn't bug me much and I don't have to erase/rewrite.

 

We have structure and flow to our days, but we also have built in quite a bit of down time. For instance, we don't start til 9 so that I can get started on laundry and some other household tasks every morning without feeling guilty that we haven't started school yet. But from 9 to 12, I'm pretty focused on school and plowing through that list. Then we take a big break from 12 to 2, which allows the kids to do what they want to do and me to get a few more chores completed before starting school again at 2. Through the afternoon we're a bit more relaxed. I do have a list of school things to get through with each of the kids, but after having a focused morning we're able to relax about it more. Everyone is typically done by 5pm and they have all evening to pursue their "fun stuff".

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And structured versus free flowing.

 

Please help me think this through. I keep switching back and forward between planning methods and I can't fully decide which works.

 

Phone apps

Pros

Love the home routines app

Always have my phone with me

Can work when I'm out and about

Can fill in the calendar immediately and schedule stuff that's ongoing without writing it in each week

 

Cons

Haven't found an app that works well for making me a timetable

Haven't found an app that works well for school planning. Tried Evernote and it was too messy. I really like apps that are clean and simple.

Phone backup has issues and I'm worried I'll lose it all

 

Paper based

Pros

I can make it as big as I need

Handwriting relaxes my brain and gives me time to think it through as I go

I can have a printed timetable and calendar very visible which is helpful else I forget everything

 

Cons

Takes longer

I have to carry an extra notebook with me everywhere and possibly a diary as well

 

iPad

Pros

Same as the phone

Bigger screen

Cons

Kids use it a lot and it's hard to keep charged

It's heavy

It's an extra thing to carry

 

I can't figure out what I want. I'd gone almost totally electronic when the bullet journaling thread came up and I tried that. But if course all my stuff is already on my phone. The biggest downside with my phone is that I tend to get distracted as soon as I pick it up.

 

My other issue is one we all deal with. I tend to either be extremely structured or extremely unstructured. When I work with structure I get too rigid but we get done what needs doing. When I work with no structure the kids get a lot more fun unaccredited learning opportunities but the house ends up in a mess and we get behind on the basics. I'd like to achieve a more loose structure but I don't know how to get there. I seem to be an all or nothing person. I think a part of the problem is that to keep up with basics properly I don't actually have much unscheduled time left.

 

Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas to help with any of this?

 

I'll answer your second issue first: I've found that a hybrid works for me. I don't plan every last day. I make a yearly plan, and I have a daily routine, but instead of making that daily plan ahead of time and writing in "read xyz chapter, do this lesson in math, take a history test..." and so on, the days on my daily planner are blank. I write in what we actually do, like a journal.

 

So, let's say we're working through our math lessons, but my kids need extra time shoring up math facts. I don't have to change anything for us to do that. I simply write in "math facts" in the math box on my schedule for that day. Or let's say I want to bake cookies and take a bunch to neighbors for school around the holidays. I can simply draw a vertical line through that day's boxes and write "bake cookies" to show what we did for school that day (or field trip, or we could do a partial day and hang out with friends, etc...)

 

Obviously the adjustments that are reasonable can change with age, but that gives you some examples. 

 

My yearly plan is structured enough to give me something to gauge how we are doing (are we on track, ahead, behind where I wanted to be?), but flexible enough to allow wiggle room to take the day off and play Monopoly for reading and math in elementary, for example. 

 

For math, my yearly plan would leave 20-30 days of wiggle room for game days, extra facts practice and so on. What I did was look at the overall lessons and how we needed to schedule things to finish for the year--generally a lesson per day. If that left no wiggle room, then I would test my student out of the early lessons (usually these are review) until I felt we had skipped ahead far enough to create wiggle room.

 

There are some things that are more "self-paced" either on purpose or that seem to lend themselves to that, and I don't do anything--I just let them take however long they take (for example, we used Easy Grammar Plus over 2 years.) I really dislike things that have 180 scheduled days, so I try to adapt it somehow. We used Sonlight, and sometimes we were able to read extra on some days to have that wiggle room, or sometimes we dropped a couple of books. In early years, we stretched cores over 2 years--there are lots of ways to build in wiggle room depending on your needs.

 

Sonlight has a 1-page, yearly schedule showing books in order by the week you start reading them--and as my kids got older, I just started making up my own yearly schedule by week. I'd use lots of Sonlight choices, but schedule them at a pace that worked for us. I show examples in my blog post on creating my Teacher Binder.

 

You mentioned carrying your paper planner with you--do you mean in order to do school on the road, or so that you can schedule dr. appointments when you are out?

 

If the former--I actually wouldn't need to do that. I'd simply use Sticky tabs to mark our place and do the next thing. 

 

For the latter--I have a separate, small calendar for appointments (one of those 3" X 6" styles) that I carry in my purse. I don't try to schedule school AND appointments through one thing. I transfer things from the purse calendar to our large, wall calendar for the family, and I keep school planning in my teacher binder. 

 

Hope you find a system that works well for you!

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Mostly I want to carry it with me because my best kid free planning time is when they're at extracurriculars. I take wtm with me and start planning the next lessons or the next year, shop online and bookmark stuff on my phone. It is basically the only kid free time I get to really think.

 

I tend to forget a lot of stuff so if I write something in a diary I'm not likely to remember to transfer it to the wall calendar. It sucks but there it is

 

Thanks for explaining your system. I definitely think I need to separate them out. That will be the first one. But I still need to figure out the balance time wise and how to integrate them. I like the idea of planning posthumously if I read it right and I have done this in the past. The thing I struggle with is there's basically always something we'd rather be doing. So maths and readers and writing get done every day but if there's not a written schedule to keep me on track the other subjects get left behind. We did maybe five ch of history last term and the free supercharged science videos plus science club have been all the science the kids got. We haven't opened Italian books and we haven't done any structured art. I don't have a lot of energy and I'm a bit flaky so I feel like I need a structure to stick to.

 

We did our Sonlight core over 2 years other than language arts which worked well.

 

I can't afford the next level of Sonlight ATM unfortunately, if I could I wouldn't be so stressed about the planning. It's because I'm needing to pull together a program myself from library books that I need some kind of a guideline.

 

I do have a number of hand me down resources from Sonlight though which I'm super grateful for!

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I ended up planning for the entire year on lesson trek (sincr I was able to get a free account) and printing it. I have a paper planner I fill in weekly based on my yearly plan. The reason I do that is because we often have things like a doctor visit or field trip that is not on the yearly plan so on paper I will move things around for the week.

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I use folded pieces of paper. Sometimes giant pieces of art paper.

 

If you have not seen this YouTube video of a Waldorf mom planning a year for 3 children with just a large piece of art paper, you must really watch it.

.

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I use folded pieces of paper. Sometimes giant pieces of art paper.

 

If you have not seen this YouTube video of a Waldorf mom planning a year for 3 children with just a large piece of art paper, you must really watch it.

.

Oh that is very cool! I like that.

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I like that too. I like to have a big picture overview like that. I used to use a big year wall calendar, its too big for 3 kids now. But the visual on the wall really helped me stay on track.

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I plan my life on iCal, but not my homeschool. Homeschool planning has been my nemesis because I tend to plan in a detailed way then realize that I'm just doing school at home. It must be because I was a classroom teacher, and I planned the whole year in detail so I could keep my class moving and cover everything. But homeschooling is different (and better in my humble opinion) because I don't have to stick to some universal plan - I can change directions, review, or mix-it-up when I need to so my kids get the best education, not a generic one.

 

Anyway, to solve my problem I had to come up with a system that made it less overwhelming. I just know that I'm not going to sit down and plan every week or every day. And then somehow I always end up being the one responsible to make sure it all gets done! 

 

I ended up putting a weekly schedule in a page protector which my kids are responsible for. They have to check each thing off every day with a white erase marker. At the end of the week I can see at a glance exactly what they did (and did not) do. 

 

It's brought a lot of freedom to my life, that's for sure!

 

I'll have to look at the online programs just for fun. Maybe I could digitize my system?

 

(I made my system into an ebook, but I'm not going to link here - if you're interested you can PM me).

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Mostly I want to carry it with me because my best kid free planning time is when they're at extracurriculars. I take wtm with me and start planning the next lessons or the next year, shop online and bookmark stuff on my phone. It is basically the only kid free time I get to really think.

 

Gotcha. For that kind of planning, I usually use a small notebook, jot down each child's name and each subject under their name and then a list of resources I want to check out. Then when I have surf time, I check those out, which inevitably leads to checking other things out...and then I note the ones I like the best. 

 

A friend and I often do a planning day together. We get our kids together to play and I haul all my stuff over to her house and we spread out on a big table. We do get interrupted some (I think more now with teens than when they were upper elementary, LOL!), but I usually get a lot done. Maybe a couple of planning days like that could work out for you sometime? I also tend to take a day sometime when hubby can watch the kids and just get out on my own to THINK! It's amazing what rubbing two brain cells together, uninterrupted, can do for a mom!

 

Thanks for explaining your system. I definitely think I need to separate them out. That will be the first one. But I still need to figure out the balance time wise and how to integrate them. I like the idea of planning posthumously if I read it right and I have done this in the past. The thing I struggle with is there's basically always something we'd rather be doing. So maths and readers and writing get done every day but if there's not a written schedule to keep me on track the other subjects get left behind. We did maybe five ch of history last term and the free supercharged science videos plus science club have been all the science the kids got. We haven't opened Italian books and we haven't done any structured art. I don't have a lot of energy and I'm a bit flaky so I feel like I need a structure to stick to.

 

With my system, I have a box for every subject area that is a daily subject--so I can't just ignore it. I have to see that I made an actual choice to skip it that day. Also, we use workboxes. Unless I don't assign a box, it gets done that day--school isn't done until every workbox sticker is up. These two keep me on track and keep me from just randomly skipping things I might rather put off. I love the workboxes too because my kids know exactly what they need to do each day. We got a lot more done once we started using them, and the kids complained less--they didn't have to come to me to ask if they were done or how much was left etc... because it was obvious.

 

I can't afford the next level of Sonlight ATM unfortunately, if I could I wouldn't be so stressed about the planning. It's because I'm needing to pull together a program myself from library books that I need some kind of a guideline.

 

I do have a number of hand me down resources from Sonlight though which I'm super grateful for!

 

 

You could model what you want to do off of a Sonlight core. Pick your spine, (Sonlight's or another one), and then use the book list from SL. Usually you can find out the time period from the back cover or from an inside sample, or guess based on the person or event highlighted if it's historical fiction or a biography. Then list the books in order and work through them. When I make my list of books, I make a rough guestimate of which week I want to start each book, similar to the yearly schedule Sonlight includes in their guides. Then I can just work through the books in order. I make a list of optional books in case we get ahead of schedule, and if we get behind, I just choose one to cross off. If there are ones I want to make sure we don't skip, I put asterisks by those. The workboxes and daily grid where I write what we did keep me accountable to doing school on a daily basis, and my rough, yearly plan keeps me organized for the year. 

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I plan my life on iCal, but not my homeschool. Homeschool planning has been my nemesis because I tend to plan in a detailed way then realize that I'm just doing school at home. It must be because I was a classroom teacher, and I planned the whole year in detail so I could keep my class moving and cover everything. But homeschooling is different (and better in my humble opinion) because I don't have to stick to some universal plan - I can change directions, review, or mix-it-up when I need to so my kids get the best education, not a generic one.

 

Anyway, to solve my problem I had to come up with a system that made it less overwhelming. I just know that I'm not going to sit down and plan every week or every day. And then somehow I always end up being the one responsible to make sure it all gets done!

 

I ended up putting a weekly schedule in a page protector which my kids are responsible for. They have to check each thing off every day with a white erase marker. At the end of the week I can see at a glance exactly what they did (and did not) do.

 

It's brought a lot of freedom to my life, that's for sure!

 

I'll have to look at the online programs just for fun. Maybe I could digitize my system?

 

(I made my system into an ebook, but I'm not going to link here - if you're interested you can PM me).

I didn't think of using a sheet protector so we can tick stuff off without printing new sheets all the time. That would solve one of my paper based problems which is either having to reprint all the time or not check stuff off.

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For the past 4 years, I only had a printer for about 2 months. :lol:

 

My weekly, monthly, and term schedules are all folded pieces of paper, just like the big Waldorf style yearly schedule.

 

I print the very occasional page at the library, but that means carrying my laptop a half mile there and another half mile back, with library books and anything I picked up at the nearby stores.

 

No printer, no home WiFi other than my phone, and no car. Folded paper is what I rely on.

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Hmm yes that is another part of the puzzle my printer has been out of action. Seems like we spend money on tech and it never lasts for more than a couple of years. We are going to be replacing it at some stage but I keep putting it off for some reason. Mostly because I am sick of wasting money on tech toys that don't work the way we think they will and last 3 to 4 years max

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Hmm yes that is another part of the puzzle my printer has been out of action. Seems like we spend money on tech and it never lasts for more than a couple of years. We are going to be replacing it at some stage but I keep putting it off for some reason. Mostly because I am sick of wasting money on tech toys that don't work the way we think they will and last 3 to 4 years max

I know the feeling. :lol:

 

Even when they are working, I don't feel safe depending on them, because I am afraid they will break.

 

The folded up papers are my fallback every time life hits a crisis. No matter what happens, I can secure some paper.

 

Once my yearly planner was the backs of different color notices taped together, that had been shoved under my door by management about stuff like new laundry rules and upcoming parties. I think the tape was shipping tape.

 

It is grounding and familiar to me that no matter what, I start putting my life together with a new yearly planner. So far nothing and no one has been able to steal this away from me.

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FWIW, I've tried countless apps & I just can't be swayed to change from paper. I dunno, there's just something about a paper planner.. 

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I like paper for personal and I use skedtrek for school.  Just so I can easily print out reports for our portfolio at the end of the year.

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I've been trying with an online planner.  I like the fact that my dd can pull it up on her Kindle Fire and check off her list independently.  We can even link to things like audiobooks and khan academy lessons and she can do it all on her kindle.  She loves it!

 

That said, I HATE inputting and rearranging, no matter how "easy" it is supposed to be.  I prefer to see a simple word doc table, and use a pen.

 

Moving forward, I think I'm only going to input dd's work into the online planner b/c she is the only one using it.  It's worth it for her, but not for my others.

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Sonlight will send you the first ten weeks of a program if you email them. That might be enough to get you started. I'm a compulsive tweaker - 10 weeks of following someone else's program is more than I can manage anyway.

 

It might also be worth having a look at Classical House of Learning for her excellent literature plans for the grammar and logic stages. I think they are better than Sonlight, and they're free!

 

I think planning is one of those "don't let the perfect get in the way of the good" things. I've spent hours fiddling with planners. Hours that I should have spent teaching DS......

D

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