“What is a weekly plan that you like to use, Joy?” Well, here begins a series of posts to answer that question, to share with you some creative and organizational ideas that help things flow hopefully more smoothly!
“How do I begin planning something that matches the reality that I’m also a full-time Mommy and I can’t do everything?”
And that was one of my questions many years ago when I first began homeschooling and in many ways, it still is. But if I can have a set of reasonable goals (e.g. on average, 4 general school subjects that I want my elementary and secondary student(s) to study for one day plus 1 main household task (beyond the daily stuff like meals) for me to aim to complete in that day) AND a flexible attitude (e.g. freedom to follow interesting “rabbit trails” at whim or simply time to rest or do something special when desired), then this helps me a lot to accomplish things with much greater ease. These posts will focus on the “set of reasonable goals” part of the equation.
How to understand this series of posts:
This is the general overview post. Then you would click on the posts for each day of the week to see more detail and to download a free blank printable for that day to help get you started if you think this plan might work for you. The example printable is arranged to show sections for “everyone” to be together and sections for 3 groups to be separate (JK-3/4, gr. 4/5-8, gr. 9-12 or similar). The “Monday to Friday” posts will appeal more to families who have more ages to coordinate during the day, such as pre-kindergarten to junior levels or even up to the end of the high school years. In the future (i.e. another year), I plan on providing “scheduling” tips for the stage of homeschooling only with pre-kindergarten to primary grades. 🙂 To repeat, this current series of “Monday to Friday” is more so for the stage of managing 2 or more levels of school-age children. It is also not a plan that I recommend to those who are just getting started in homeschool life. If that is “you”, a plan you might really like is the link here for my “Year-at-a-Glance” plan.
Each of the posts in this series will also include related links to some resources and curriculum that I really like(d) using on those days! If you are curious about how homeschooling can work superbly well in a large family for all grades, then you will want to see how this is laid out step by step in the examples.
Here are the other posts in this series:
(They will be hyperlinked as the posts are posted.)
“Planning Daily Bible Time Options” (which are ideas for how you could design a series of lessons in the planning charts)
The General Overview:
Please be assured that the curriculum we design and sell in our online shop does NOT require you to have a certain schedule or routine – it is very flexible so yes, it can work well for families who do not homeschool on the schedule(s) suggested in these posts. These schedules are simply ideas – ones which I’ve liked and appreciate and other moms might like something like this too. Our PSLC curriculum remains flexible so that it can meet the needs of many many families, regardless of dynamics, styles, and routines.
Many HS (homeschool) moms spend a very dedicated time period in the mornings, reading and discussing, explaining and showing things to their children, then assign some written work for the rest of the morning. After lunch, they either explore on field trips or errands (such as shopping or going to the library), provide practice for household or outdoor life skills, or both mom and kids have free-time to do “whatever”. They might refer to it as a “2-hour a day” homeschool schedule. Personally, our family’s routines do not look like that. So this series of posts will give you a picture of how homeschool life can work differently in comparison and the benefits I see in how we homeschool the way we have.
I also want to remind my readers too that I didn’t begin homeschooling all 8 children at once! These blessings have been gradually added to our lives over the years. I was once a mom of just one child, and then 2, then 3 in our home, etc.. The complexities increase with the increase of multiple stages of youth. So the Monday to Friday posts might look a “little scary” in places to my readers who have only younger children. I will be putting in pictures of both the schedules which include lots of grades (3 levels) and those which just had 2 levels. If you are just beginning to homeschool (e.g. suddenly or just entering those years), you might find more applicable help in a different post called “Beginning Your Homeschool Journey”. Of course, you ARE very welcome to read this series that I’m introducing now too if you’re still interested! ♥
What It Looks Like:
What I’m going to show you for this weekly schedule is actually a combining of the daily posters we tend(ed) to post up on our walls (each year was slightly different but generally the same) AND a revision of my Year-At-A-Glance Planning Chart Method – system which you can read about in this post (click here).
There were 2 things which I thought could be improved in that “Year-At-A-Glance Planning Chart Method” for someone who has been homeschooling for a while:
First, it wasn’t pretty! Having a large piece of paper stuck up on the wall can both peel paint off and not look good if you have your house up for sale or if you have people regularly coming into your home (who don’t live there). It’s a planner that is practical and useful yes, but it IS cumbersome and shows that Mommy scribbles messily too. I even had difficulty figuring out which wall I could mount it on long-term in the next house after I had moved because we didn’t have a lot of extra wall space.
It was plain white with lines (until I highlighted what was done). I liked the times when we used one colour per weekday for a basic schedule to quickly read as we wondered “what next” should we learn. I liked thinking of our studies as “learning centers”, even though the studies might take us right back to the same location. And the kids liked those colours too. We even could give a “special” name to a day or so and that was fun!
Second, it wasn’t reusable. Each year if I wanted this system, I had to spend some time creating the chart for the year. And in recent years, it was hard to find that time. This was because there were a lot of things happening around us which were unpredictable and our kids seemed to need more direction of what to do when. For the school years when I’ve been able to give more direction as to “what to do when”, the “Year-at-a-Glance” charting system worked well. But my life had added more things to juggle.
So this new weekly plan emerged, as a combination of all of the favourite methods we had used and really liked! Prettier to look at, easier to hang on a small wall or end of a cupboard, and reusable!
The colours that I used? All are pastel shades as follows:
Blue paper – Monday
Green paper – Tuesday
Pink paper – Wednesday
Orange or yellow paper – Thursday
Mauve (purple) paper – Friday
The Time Frame: In general, as you will notice on the planning charts, we have a “school schedule” for 9:30-3:30 (or some years 4:00 like the old one-room schoolhouses used to do), Monday to Friday, allowing for portions of that to be rearranged as needed for appointments, outings, homeschool group meetings, piano lessons, swim lessons or similar, depending on the week those things run. But otherwise, we have a general plan that we can easily tell what we might think of doing. It’s a plan that comes from years of trying things and collecting ideas which have really worked well for us. It’s a plan for the season AFTER the shorter schooltime of preschool days. It’s a plan coming from the perspective of a WAHM (work at home mom) who has a home-based business and from a mom who also has had to juggle higher-than-average family care priorities and her own limitations. It’s a plan that can fit with curriculum or “rabbit trails” which make some lessons of varying lengths, depending on the day. It’s a plan that doesn’t need to discourage when real life adds unexpected stuff and it’s a plan that demonstrates a delight in learning (and work ethic of not just livin’ for the weekend or free-time). In our home, “school” is a blessing to enjoy, not a burden to endure. I hope you will grow to understand this as you read the posts and that the time frame of including both mornings and afternoons into your homeschool life CAN be truly a blessing!
(“Bible time” in our home is not considered part of a “school schedule” although you will notice it mentioned on some charts. The same goes for home responsibilities and chores, hobbies, and housework (most of the time). If you’re interested in ideas for organizing family Bible times, there are some suggestions on that topic throughout our website.)
If we have been sick for a couple of days, we might simply skip over those days OR when we “come back to school”, we might pretend it is “Wednesday” instead of “Friday”. The schedule is flexible enough we could “double-up” to “catch up” if we really want to. We don’t worry about being strict and rigid about the specifics but it is a good general guideline to have something like this in place so everyone has an idea of what goals to work towards for the day, whether doing stuff together or independently.
A schedule arranged according to subject more than grade level
A huge benefit to me as the mom (the person who is asked the most questions or needed the most to teach something) was the settling down of things into one type of subject per period of time (or maybe 2 if I know that I won’t be needed as likely in one of those subjects). That means my brain can think “math” for the period of math and not spelling for one kid, math for another, history for another (which can happen in some homes when workbooks are “just self-paced”). Occasionally, my kids have been known to finish early in one thing, then work on a different subject – which is totally fine unless… they start needing me to help them explain something or find something. Then I might have to remind them to please wait until we’re doing that subject later, unless it is a relatively easy thing I can help them with right away. While I say that learning is “self-paced”, it is closer to “mom-paced” for the timing within the day rather than having each student determine how fast to complete a lesson and move onto the next subject. You can imagine the chaos that could be created if each of my kids were fully self-paced and on a variety of topics all in the same hour! So I try to keep that kind of bedlam in check by having each of them in then same general subject area at the same time. Example: If the grade 2 student has finished her math but math time isn’t up yet for her older siblings to move on, she can have free-play with math manipulatives, make shapes with playdough, or do an extra worksheet from a pile of supplementary math pages such as a colouring page or can simply observe birds at the birdfeeder, or work on an independent-type project, etc.. In other words, she doesn’t just move onto spelling while she’s waiting. Having one type of subject per period of time REALLY made a difference when we learned to do this years ago! I wasn’t scrambling, the kids weren’t as distracted, the days were much more fun and beautiful!
And finally, here is another part of this weekly plan which influences what I personally add to the days – it has to do with “what” to study. For example, you won’t usually find us studying things like Latin or a strong emphasis on classical literature. We do study history but we don’t spend as large of amounts of time on it compared to science. Other families would be different than us in things like that.) On this plan, it highlights the PSLC curriculum (which we have published) and the resources from other publishers which we have found fits well with our values and style. (The “Four-Year Rotation” Plan also easily fits into these ideas, from year to year.)
Likely the biggest decisions to be made are not about “when” you teach something but “what” you include on your list of things to be taught. When I was part of a mothers of preschoolers group years ago, one wise sentence I heard often which impressed me for deciding “what” the topics should be for our family (and length of time spent on it) was “Does it really matter in eternity?” (keeping an eternal perspective on prioritizing time/energy/resources)
In other words, I can think to myself….
Does learning _________ (a topic/sub-topic – I fill in the blank with the topic or book study being considered)…
- matter to this child’s impression of Who God is?
- does it matter to what this child’s testimony of Who God is to the rest of the world as and when this child is growing/has grown up?
- does it serve a purpose for helping this child in his/her future for when he/she is training and working wherever God leads him/her? (This essentially asks the question, “Does learning this _____ matter to a future career skill needed?” Most careers don’t need Latin however, our son did enjoy learning some Latin a few years ago due to his interest in a career in botany. We didn’t regret the decision to introduce Latin to him (and the rest of the crew for fun) because it had a greater purpose, useful for understanding something that would help him in future studies.)
- does it matter in this child’s Christian growth/attitude towards life/discipleship/commitment to what is worthwhile?
If I can’t answer “yes” confidently to any of those questions, then I tend to question the usefulness of the topic/sub-topic/book title in our homeschool plan. I might still teach that topic but not spent a lot of time on it in comparison to topics which ARE more useful. I only have limited energy and time to raise my children and I want to make the best of it and not have it wasted with fluffy nonsense or tons of details about something that will likely remain irrelevant to them now and once they move onto further training/career/home life. To have fun – absolutely! We MUST take time for this and the Bible does mention cheerfulness for sure! God does have a sense of humor I believe. But to fill our days with things which don’t have much point to them in the end or worse, lead away from the character and glory of God, as a Christian mom and teacher, when it is a matter of choice, I/we need to prayerfully consider “what” is important for the content of our schooling.
This weekly plan is designed in such a way that it works for OUR family, I can share the ideas with you, but it also comes with “blank” boxes so it is a totally flexible tool for YOU to use with the topics/subjects that YOU feel are most important in YOUR homeschooling efforts.
Well, the next post is called MONDAY – let’s begin walking through one of my favourite weekly schedules! 🙂