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I think i am going to scream!!! How do you all actually "plan"?

Kate in VA

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I know this sounds really dumb but how to you actually plan out your lessons and schedule....? :confused::confused:


I have been Homeschooling for about 2 years but up until now it has been "okay lets open to the next lesson" type stuff...... However my dd is going into to be working on Third grade next year and I want everything done ahead of time...... I want to create our own "Curriculum" for history but I have no idea where to start.... I have my idea for the spine and other books but how to I schedule it out over the next year? How do I know that I am not planning too much reading each week or too many things to do?


I want to create a "third grade box" so that in august when all the kids go to school for the first day. My dd will get her stuff for the whole year on that day (I am going to put everything and all types of really cool stuff in a fun box and my dh is going to put it on the front steps before going to work) But to do this I need to create a "instructor's guide" for me or else my head is goiing to fly off!:eek:


I want to have it all done and then move on... i don't want another year of contently thinking about it..... It is really hurting my health- honestly!


But how do I actually do all this..... do i break down the weeks I think I want to plan for or what?



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I use Homeschool tracker. It is a computer program they have a free version and a 50$ version with all the bells and whistles. I am using the free version; it makes scheduling easy with the copy feature and reading log. I tried other things like printing out Planning sheets but it didn't work out for me. I had to play around with it before I realized how useful it was.




The free version is the Basic on the right.

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I have my idea for the spine and other books but how to I schedule it out over the next year? How do I know that I am not planning too much reading each week or too many things to do?

But how do I actually do all this..... do i break down the weeks I think I want to plan for or what?


Oh, what fun! I love doing this!


Start with a calendar with spaces big enough for you to write in. I prefer student assignment books over teacher's lesson planners; they have more space for multiple assignments while also being more compact. You can use one student assignment book for science, one for history, etc.


Next, take your spine book and divide it's pages amongst the calendar days. For example, 540 pages to cover in your spine book divided by 180 days of school equals 3 pages to cover in your spine book every day.


Next, jot down each topic from the spine book right onto the calendar. When you know the broad themes of each week, plug in any readings or projects from your supplementary books that correlate to that theme. Indexes are handy for this; I assume you know how to use them :p


That's it! What spines are you using? KathyJo at BarefootMeandering already has created a scheduling blank for SOTW that you can just plug your supplementary stuff into.


I'm really sad that I'm not going to plan for next year for my 7yo. The 5/6yo is really just too young . . . and the 11yo has interests of his own he's strongly pursuing. ::sigh:: No planning for me :( Can I live vicariously through you?

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Okay, http://www.DonnaYoung.org is a huge help for someone just starting out but I'll try to give you some ideas of what helps me.


1. How long is your school year going to be? Is this a factor?


2. Take a look at each subject, which ones will need to be done in an orderly way to finish them (if that is your goal)?


For us: Math, Science, History, Bible are the ones we want to finish by a certain time, the other stuff for us is easily "just continue".


3. Once you determine which ones have to be scheduled (the answer to #2). Then you determine how many weeks it will take to do the lessons and how many days a week you want to focus on that subject.


For example: Our math has 160 lessons, since our year is 40 weeks long, I'll divide 160/40 and that = 4. This means to finish 160 lessons in 40 weeks, we'll have to do 4 lessons a week.


160 lessons in 36 weeks would be 5 lessons a week.

History and Math are easy b/c most publishers make their timetable to be 36 weeks, so 1 chapter/topic would be 1 week's work.


4. What about time off? We're on a 9 week on/ 1 week off schedule right now that I love but each family will find their own rhythm. Part of the reason our schedule works for us is because we finish by lunch with our lessons and have a light day on Friday. That fits our family though.


I create a spreadsheet and lay it all out, I usually start with Week 1, Week 2 without dates but once you get a rhythm you can start putting the actual dates.


Then you can branch off from there and plan each week out if you wish but I wouldn't advise doing too much in advance. Also give yourself something new to do around January, a new curriculum to start or new subject so that it gives you something to be excited about coming back from Christmas break.


Hope this helps

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I am currently looking for someone to help me through planning and scheduling our school year for the 2008-2009 term. Someone could probably make a good bit of money doing this as part-time job.


Unfortunately for me I do not follow written directions very well on this type of thing. I need someone to sit beside me, go through what I have, and talk me through this. Kind of like when the first baby came home and I had no clue what to do. ;)


Also unfortunately for me I have yet to find anyone to do this. It looks my options are narrowing down to a boxed curriculum (yawn) or a private part-time classical school (fairly pricey).

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And if that doesn't work, we will hold you hand. Honestly.



It seems like there was a company that did that . . . Core Curriculum of America? You told them what books you wanted to use and they wrote the lesson plans.


But yes, we can walk you through it here. How long is your school year? What spines are you wanting to use?

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First, I check out my spine. I sit down and read 10 pages of the spine and time myself. That gives me some idea of how long it takes to read a certain amount of material. Then I double it. That accounts for our discussion if I'm reading it aloud to the children, or the children's slower reading speed if they are reading it to themselves. If it is for my youngest and he is reading it to himself, I cut my time by a third because he reads much faster than I do. I look at how it is organized and make sure I want to go through it front to back. I look at whether I want to do all the chapters. I look at what activities the book contains and which of them I want to do.


When I'm familiar with the spine, I come up with a routine surrounding it. For example, for Physics, we read the chapter aloud together, watch the video, make notes for the chapter, do the review questions and think and explains orally together, do the plug and chugs and then correct them. I have similar routines for all our subjects. This is key for me, since I mostly open-and-go (even in high school).


Next, I get out the calendar and count up how many weeks of school we will do for the school year. I do count weeks following 3-day weekends, but don't count half weeks like Thanksgiving week. These are our catchup weeks. I divide the spine by the number of weeks and see how much we can realistically cover given the amount of time I want to spend on the subject each week. I usually discover that we will have to skip some things, or that we can only do extra projects and books for some of the things. I usually divide up the week up into reading, extra reading, and a project. Sometimes the extra reading works better if you do something like: read the spine and outline one spread of it and either trace a map or write a small report each week, and for each section, like medieval or Egypt or whatever, read one extra book and do one extra more time consuming project. In science, you probably can't do more than one lab a week, so you might read and do extra reading the most of the time, but only pick a few of the projects in the book to do. The planning part comes in deciding how many pages to get through each week, which page to outline (if you are outlining), and which projects to do.


Then I make a list of what to do. In the lefthand margin of a page, I write the week number and it's dates. Then next to each, I write the spine pages to be read and what projects/extra reading we want to do.


So, in a nutshell, you are going to figure out how to divide your spine into the number of weeks you have (sometimes 2 week chunks work better or whatever), pick something from each week's reading to do a project and/or some extra reading on, and then write it all down as a list to be checked off as you do it. You are going to assign any especially big projects their own week. You are going to leave a few weeks blank for catch-up time. If you get too behind, you are going to just read the spine until you catch up.


Does that help?


I have found that in a week, we could fit in reading two or three spreads, outlining one of them, reading one library book per main topic heading (mammals or Egypt or something), a little extra reading per week, and then either doing a short project (like making a map or researching about something or writing a short report on something or making a model or trying something (like chipping arrowheads or playing a game) or doing some artwork or cooking something or making a costume or ...). If it is science, we can read a spine, discuss it, read a library book about it, do an activity, and keep up with our nature journals. Trying to fit more into a week didn't work very well for us.


Mostly, I just do what TWTM suggests GRIN. That is where I learned to plan this way. I have found fairly brief plans to be the best. I usually don't plan out our projects or our reading beforehand because the reading depends on what is available at the library any given week, and the children like to make up their own projects and activities. They are always full of ideas of things they'd like to try after we've read about something.



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I use either a teachers book (Which I find its ok but I take alot of notes so a Spiral is better)


Each week in the teachers book it has date at top under it Mon-Fri

The night b4 (Sometimes the weekend b4) I write down each subject we do and what all we cover in that subject.

I take down notes if there is something he is having trouble in and the next day we cover it again :)

I write down when he or i are sick and do not school that day

or if we go on a fiend trip where exactly we go.

We dont have to but I do it so not to lose my mind :D

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Would it help to see a week's schedule and how we got there?


I "cheat" and use lesson plans out of teacher's manuals, for the most part!


So, for example, in the front of the Home Instructor's guide in Singapore, it's all laid out for me.


On Sunday, I write down


Day 1--ex 36-teach, Mental math sheet: 16

Day 2--Ex 37--teach

Day 3--Practice 3G

Day 4-- Practice 3H

Day 5--review A


Now, my son has hit a snag at Ex. 27--that's why I tend to do these things weekly. I'll probably carry over everything from Day 3 onwards once we have the snag (long division) sorted out.


Grammar is a bit more problematic. There are 125 lessons and 10 reviews: so a total of 135 "things" to do.

If I want to do grammar every day, (5x a week) it will take us 27 weeks. (135 divided by 5) There's no need to go that fast, so, if I want, I can do it 4x a week (135 divided by 4) and make it last 33.75 (or 34) weeks. BUT I don't want to do it only 3x a week--because then it would take us 45 weeks.


Are we on track? For all intents and purposes we started our school year in January. We are in our sixth week, so we should be at lesson 24. We're actually at Lesson 23, (to be done today) and 24 tomorrow, so all is good.


About loosey goosey subjects like science and history: what Nan in Mass had to say is excellent. I like SoTW as a spine because it is very pick up and go. One week per chapter works out well for us: we do a section each time. So, some weeks we do History 4x (when there are 4 sections) and sometimes 2x. Again, I figure that out on Sunday.


Science is also quite simple, and for us, very informal at the moment.

What do you want to cover?

We're doing 10 weeks on the human body, two sessions per week. I haven't looked much further than that, yet.


Day 1--read spine, find out about things that arouse our interest. Do an experiment if I can get my act together.

Day 2--follow up with a narration or experiment or label a diagram, or draw, etc.


Does this help at all?

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Ok, now that the house is quiet, I see that what you want is 2 things


1) a history curriculum that you put together yourself.

I'm doing this for Canadian History for us at the moment--and I decided to keep track of all my planning and resources in blog form. You can see it here. Perhaps that will help?


As for knowing what's too much or not enough--that's sort of determined by trial and error. Slot in all you can think of--I like to have too much than too little and *star* what's essential. That way if things have to slide, it's OK. You really can't do it all--and I planned far too much for our little survey course. That's OK. As long as we read the spine, one supplementary book and do one sort of "report"--either a map, a biography, a narration, or a report--we're doing well.


2) you want to have everything in a box for your daughter for the YEAR? That's too much--both for her and for you. Give yourself permission to have the first six weeks or so figured out--and then figure out the rest as you go. Honest--to have every single work sheet and book and so on is unrealistic.

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I absolutely love having everything planned out. It actually allows us to work in more outside-the-box resources and have a better time with homeschooling.


I take each subject one-by-one. I write up a syllabus or course outline of what I want to accomplish. Then I figure out what resources to use. Then I figure out how many weeks/days to schedule it over. I break it into daily (sometimes weekly) chunks and write them all out in one spreadsheet. After I have done this for each subject, I can plan out the days.

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I really, really *hate* planning a daily assignment load too far ahead of time, because it always seems something happens to upset that plan. We might miss a day of school due to illness. We might not do every subject on the list one day, putting us behind in one or two things. Or we might work ahead for the sheer joy of it, thereby also wrecking the schedule. Or we might need to stop working from the schedule and choose to go on a field trip or take a day or two for a special educational project. You get the point.


I make a list per subject of all the assignments/readings for that subject.


I then make a general weekly schedule that just lists what subjects we do on what days.


Each day we simply do the next thing on the list for each subject. Or more. Or maybe review from the day before as needed.


It works surprisingly well. When I plan the assignment lists I have a general idea of how to get the work all done within a year, but don't stress too much about it. It seems to happen by magic if we just keep going steadily along.

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Ok, I'm game. I am doing 3rd grade next year and writing my own curriculum for all but math and science.


I take my calendar for the next school year and mark off when we will not have school. Put some floater weeks in when it would be nice to have fun weeks (which can be flipped around if we have illness strike).


Then I divide up my year into 3 to 4 week units.


I write down what I want to cover and divide them among the units. And then get a spiral notebook and a box full of shart pencils with good erasers. Because it will change--it always does.


So for third grade Unit 1 which is in August consists of Nouns, slanted view narratives, creation through Cain and Able, caves & simple shelters, and Time.


Then I go through and divide up the work throughout the week and month. The first week looks like this:


All week--rhythmic drill months and days of week, SWR rule 15 2-1-1 accent rule.


Monday--story of creation, what is a noun, SM p. 109, form drawing, Minimus p. 46, Science p. 28-29


Tuesday--look at and draw pictures of caves, common nouns, SM, retell the story of creation, Minimus p. 47, science


Wednesday--write a paragraph about caves, proper nouns, SM, revise story of creation, Minimus p. 47, science


Thursday--abstract nouns, SM, polish story, Minimus review day, McCall-Harby, science.


I do short intense lessons and it works really well for us. I am using Wordperfect to make worksheets/charts for us to use with SWR and with the Ruth Heller grammar books. I am using my notes from Composition in the Classical Tradition as an outline for our composition work.


If I was going to hand my dd her work for the year :eek: (she would pass out if I did this), I would hand her the minimus book, the Ruth Heller books, The WISE Guide to Spelling, all the worksheets for these two, a Bible story book, McCall-Harby Test Lessons in Reading Comprehension, Singapore Math 3b/4a, My Pals are Here Science 4b, Homes around the World by Burns, and a book on Native American tales.


Good Luck.

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I want to create our own "Curriculum" for history but I have no idea where to start.... I have my idea for the spine and other books but how to I schedule it out over the next year? How do I know that I am not planning too much reading each week or too many things to do?


I create our own history plans with a spine. Here's what I do...


1. Decide how many weeks of history I want to do.

2. In Word, make a table that is 4 columns and however many weeks I want + 1 more row

3. Title the columns week, spine, additional reading, and activities.

4. Fill in the first column 1 through however many weeks

5. Divide the number of pages in the spine by the number of weeks and figure out how many pages you need to cover each week to finish.

6. Use this as a guideline to fill in the second column adjusting the pages as you go so that you don't stop in the middle of a lesson.

7. Look at the topics covered each week, and list any additional books that you want to go with the spine.

8. Fill in column 4 with your activities: map work, crafts, field trips, topics to narrate, etc.



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Others have already set out how to plan, in general, for you. To put together your own history programming, as you stated you wanted to do, you should first turn to that book which you say you want to use as your spine. How is it set up? How many chapters or sections?


How often will you do history and for how long each time? Look at dividing up your spine into the number of history sessions you'll have.


You said: "I want to create our own "Curriculum" for history but I have no idea where to start.... I have my idea for the spine and other books but how to I schedule it out over the next year?"


Here's an example of what I'm doing with my history next year:


I'm using two Kingfisher books and SOTW I as my spines for ancient history. I went through them and divided them up into the subjects that I wanted to cover for the year.


Week 1: Intro to history/archeology and Pre-history

Week 2-4: Mesopotamia (I thought this civilization was so cut up in other books that I pulled it all together to cover at one time; it was just too disjointed for me otherwise)

Week 5-6: Ancient Egypt

Week 7: Hebrews

Week 8: Ancient India

Week 9: Ancient China

Week 10: Megalithic Europe

Week 11: Aegean Civilizations (another one I opted to do all at once)

Week 12: Ancient Africa

Week 13: Middle Kingdom Egypt

Week 14: New Kingdom Egypt

Week 15: Early Greece

Week 16: Medes and Persians/Parthians and Sassanids

Week 17: Americas

Week 18-19: Classical Greece

Week 20-21: Founding of Rome

Week 22-23: India, Mauryan and Gupta Dynasties

Week 24-25: Qin and Han China

Week 26-27: Glory of Rome

Week 28: Celtic Europe

Week 29-30: Beginning of Christianity; end of Jewish Nation

Week 31: Africa

Week 32: Americas

Week 33: Oceania

Week 34: Japan

Week 35-36: Decline of Rome


You also said: "How do I know that I am not planning too much reading each week or too many things to do?"


Well, LOL, I generally DO overplan for books. That way, if we go to pull things from the library and they're missing, checked out, damaged, etc. and we just can't get them anymore, we'll still have plenty to do. Ditto if we pull something we haven't used before and it turns out that we hate it.... We read as much as we can and I don't sweat the rest. I don't stress about reading 'from' longer, more complex books instead of reading the entire thing, cover to cover. If you want to do projects, it may be possible to get her started and then read to her while she's working on the project.


For each of my subject headings, I fill in books from home and library that I like the look of. I go back later and separate out what I'll have him read, what we'll read for literature, and what each of us will read for history. Because my son reads fast, I will tend to pull some things that I've slated for read alouds and give them to him after he's finished other, shorter works for the week.


So, for instance, in week 32, when we're studying the Americas for the second time, we'll read from our spines and beginning chapters of History of US, which covers the early groups living in the Americas. He'll outline one of the short chapters from History of US.


During the course of the week, he'll read some Native American folklore from 3 books of collected stories I have at home. I already have the page numbers listed for ease of finding these. He may also read The Enchanted Caribou, if there's time (or I will read it aloud). He'll also read library books such as: Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon; and Clamshell Boy; and read from The Dancing Fox, even if he can't complete all stories in it.


For literature, I'll read The Story of Comock the Eskimo.


For history reading, I will divide up between us the reading of: Building an Igloo; City of the Gods; Land of the Five Suns; Inuit; The Makah; and Art of the Far North.


Hope this helps you get a picture of how to get started with this,



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Here are my steps:


1) Start with a big teachers planner and put in the dates each week.

2) Mark off holiday time.

3) Get out all the curriculum, and list the name of each book on a planning sheet (plain paper).

4) On a planning sheet, put the total number of lessons for each "book" (Rod & Staff = 120; Saxon = 130 plus 12 Investigations; SWO = 36, and so on)

5) Go back to your calendar and figure out your start date and end date; count the weeks between, then subtract weeks you will be taking off.

6) When you figure out how many weeks you want to do school, divide that number by each lesson number (example: 120 lessons divided by 36 weeks). This number is how many lessons you need to do each week. NOTE: If you have 42 lessons and only 36 weeks, you know you'll need to double up on lessons a few weeks. I recommend doubling up early on in the year when you are "fresh".

7) On your planning calendar, write in each subject (English, Spelling, Math, History, Geography, etc.) and begin to fill out lessons for each day. Keep in mind that some weeks you'll do "everything" and others, you will be able to drop a day of English or Math to get everything to work out to the end of the year. This also builds in time and flexibility for illness, field trips and stretching out challenging lessons.



Once this is done, I use it as a "master". Each week I go over the weekly work with my children, and have them write out their own schedules (2nd grad and 5th grade). We also put an approximate time (you can go by the times listed in WTM). This helps my children realize time management. Some days they are up early to work because they have afternoon activities or play with the neighbors planned - some days they sleep in and work through dinner. They also cross check their schedule with school half days and holidays so they can flex time AND play with friends.



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