Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Homeschool Planning

My idea is that for every minute I spend planning and preparing for the upcoming school year, I actually save myself hours of headache once we actually begin. The reason that I spend so much time organizing the children's binders and making them various checklists is because I want to train my children to complete their schoolwork independently as much as possible. However, I do spend a good deal of time reading out loud to them, studying the Bible with them, and for the younger ones, teaching new math and grammar concepts. I also "do science" with Leah (1st) and Clay (6th), and I try to read the older girls Apologia science books periodically so I have some idea of what they are studying. I also work Olivia's math lesson with her every day.

When we are in the middle of our school day, I don't want the children to have to wait on me for their next assignment. For those subjects that are not "do the next page or the next math lesson", they need a plan. For the upper level Apologia science courses, they like to know how many pages do they need to read/work each day. As I have studied my Sonlight instructor guides (IG), I have found Julie and Clay have a daily independent reading assignment (like read chapters 2-4, or read pages 44-60), plus the Core that they will be doing also has daily assignments in a geography notebook.

That is why for every subject possible, I make them a daily lesson plan. I really don't want them dragging out my teacher books to get their next assignment, or finding me and asking me (like when I am in the middle of a reading lesson with Leah) how many chapters in their book are they required to read that day. Again, it seems like a lot of trouble right now (actually, I enjoy it), but it saves so much time throughout the school year. I also think it fosters their working independently. They are able to get their work buckets, look at their daily assignments, complete them, and check them off. I am always available to answer questions, but having these plans and checklists allows them to be productive until it is their turn to work with me.

Here is how I organized my Sonlight IGs, Core K and 5

the two big (and one small) blue Sonlight binders

The Sonlight IG have plans for 36 weeks. Each week's plan is printed on one page. There is also one page per week for Language Arts instruction. The big blue binders come with 36 numbered tabs, and I put each week's history/geography/Bible/read aloud and language arts plan (2 pages total) behind each week's tab. Then I pulled each week's study guides for read alouds, readers (independent reading), and history/geography, and placed them behind the appropriate week tab. If a study guide is used for more than one week, after we are through with the current week, I will move the study guide to the next tab to be used the next week. That should take about 5 seconds. I also put the language arts instruction notes and student pages behind each week's tab. So, behind tab 1 is every single thing I will need for week one of Sonlight; behind tab 2 is week two's pages, etc.

The big blue Sonlight binders are very, very big! In my opinion, too big to lug around each day, and it is difficult to quickly flip to the weeks in the second half of the book. So, to make things easier, I am pulling 3 weeks worth of tabs from Core K and Core 5 ands placing them into a smaller, more manageable 3 ring binder for daily use.

the inside of my smaller Sonlight binder

the outside of the smaller binder

At the end of the three weeks, I plan to place tabs 1-3 back into the big blue binder, and put weeks 4-6 in my smaller binder. I think this will take about one minute or less, once every three weeks. I will also move any study guides from week 3 to week 4 if needed. When we are through with a study guide that is used for multiple weeks, I plan to replace it back behind the tab where it was first used.

This really sounds more complicated than it really is! For a couple hours of work, I now have my IG all organized and ready for the entire school year!

I put all our Sonlight books for the year on shelves in my schoolroom. The top shelf holds Leah's books, the middle shelf has reference books and Olivia's literature books, and the third shelf holds the Core 5 books.

the books

I pulled all of the books I would need for the first three or four weeks of school for Leah and Sam and placed them inside this portable bin. I will probably add Julie and Clay's current Core 5 books to this bin also. This way they can easily find the books they need each day.

the books we'll use the first few weeks

The last steps in organizing my Sonlight materials were to find a place for the markable wall map and timeline books. I hung the map on the wall inside our schoolroom supply closet (a walk-in closet), and I stored the timeline books on the shelf with all of the Sonlight books.

Each day after our history/geography read aloud time, the children will mark on the map the location we read about, and they will also insert the appropriate people inside their timeline books.

the markable world map

I am really looking forward to our school year! I love reading aloud to my children so much, and I know that we are going to love doing Sonlight. It may take us all day! But we will be making special memories and learning a lot too.


  1. Looks great! Maybe I'll rethink my decision:).


  2. Thanks for these tips! It sounds easier than the way I usually do it.