If you're just joining me for the 10 Days to a Flexible Homeschool Plan series then be sure to read the previous posts:
All the things we covered last week laid the framework for establishing a Flexible Homeschool Plan. You now have everything you need to schedule an entire year (or as far in advance as you'd like) while still remaining very flexible to changes, both intentional and unexpected.
So let's jump right in and I'll show you how I put it all to work for me.
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This system is flexible enough that you can put it together in a number of ways - a three-ring binder, file folders, three-prong folders, etc. I do not recommend spiral binding because you're not able to add to or take away from spiral binding which is a big part of having a Flexible Homeschool Plan.
For me personally, I love spiral binding my planner, but I need to maintain the ability to move pages around, so I use the ProClick binding system.
It is worth every penny that I paid for it, and then some.
I purchased mine almost 7 years ago and I use it at least once per week to bind something.
The magic of the ProClick system is the spines.
They function as a spiral binding, but they open and close! So when I bind my planner the content isn't permanently bound in any order. That is of paramount importance to me! If I can't remove pages, add pages, or move pages around then I've lost a great deal of the very thing I'm striving for - flexibility - so the ProClick system is perfect for me.
Here is my freshly made planner for the upcoming year.
The cover is premade from The Handmade Home. I printed it on 110lb. card stock and then covered it with matte contact paper. I used to laminate the cover of my planner, but I actually prefer the contact paper because 1) I like the matte finish, 2) it's durable but not stiff, 3) it's cheaper, and 4) I can trim it right up to the edge of the page and not worry about it peeling away.
The first section of my planner holds my record keeping pages for the year such as:
- Our yearly calendar showing our start and end dates as well as our holidays and breaks. We covered this on day two in case you missed it.
- Our block schedule which lays out our daily routine. We covered this on day three.
- My Accountability Association letter, which shows I am legally homeschooling in my state.
- Attendance record, which I fill in daily - sometimes weekly if I forget.
- My subject overview which shows the subjects we will cover this year and the resources we will use.
- Supplies needed list which I use to keep track of what we need for the year so that I can get it all at once.
- Library Resource Needs List. This is where I keep track of the things I need to get from the library and the dates that I'll need them.
- Changes I Want to Make page. I keep this in my planner to make notes to myself throughout the year of things that aren't working or things that I want to implement or test out.
The next section holds my Daily Plan pages. I mostly plan one day at a time during the school year, sometimes a few days, but that's rare. I was never able to find a form that worked for me so I made a custom form.
The final section is for all of my Resource Schedules, which are divided up by subject and labeled with Avery tabs that can be repositioned.
That's all that I keep in this planner. I don't keep monthly calendars or to do lists or anything like that in this planner. I have a separate life planner that I use for those sorts of things. This one only holds school records and subject planning info.
Planning a Day
As I mentioned before, I only plan one day at a time. I started planning this way for a couple of reasons...
...I needed something that would hold me accountable to checking my daughter's work on a daily basis. Having to plan the next day's work means that I sit down with it every night and check her work at the same time.
...If for some reason we don't get to something on our plan for the day I don't have to erase the next day, or several days, to move it forward. Instead I just write whatever we didn't complete on the next day.
Because planning our day only takes me about five minutes it's not a chore to do it every night.
So how do I do it?
First, I remove my Daily Plan page from my planner.
Next, I turn to the first Resource Schedule. I have all of my Resource Schedules in the same order as they are listed on my Daily Plan so that I'm not flipping back and forth constantly.
From this Resource Schedule I write down the first unassigned lesson on our Daily Plan, then I write the date it was assigned in the "Assigned" column. You could also just put a check in the box.
I then go to the next Resource Schedule and do the same thing. I keep repeating this until I've filled in every thing that I need for that day.
Finishing a Day
Each evening, usually while the kids are getting ready for bed, I check my daughter's independent work and plan our next day.
To begin, I remove the Daily Plan we completed that day as well as a blank page for the next school day.
I turn to our first Resource Schedule. If we completed the work then I write down the date in the "Completed" column next to the lesson. Then on my Daily Plan for the next day I wrtie down the next lesson from the Resource Schedule and write the date in the "Assigned" column.
I do the same thing with the next subject, and continue the process.
When I get to my daughter's independent work I will check the lesson to make sure it has been completed correctly. If it has, I write the date in the "Completed" column next to the lesson on the Resource Schedule. If it wasn't completed, or if she missed a lot or had trouble with the lesson, I will write "Go over yesterday's lesson with mom" on the next day's plan. Then, once we go over it together I'll determine whether she needs to redo that lesson or move on to the next one.
And that's it!
The entire process takes me about five minutes - ten minutes if I have to read a lot on my daughter's assignments.
Remember when I told you all of that tedious writing would save you hours throughout the year? This is how!
Instead of having to drag out all of your resources every day, or every week, you just pull out your Resource Schedules and assign the next thing.
You don't have to do your planning every day. You could plan several days at a time if you like, though I don't recommend doing more than one week.
I'll explain why tomorrow when we talk about some of the challenges you might face in your planning and see the magic in having a Flexible Homeschool Plan when facing those challenges!