Every now and then I think I need to get elaborate or fancy in my homeschool planning, but it never sticks for long . . . like less than a week. I always go back to simple. Because it works. I plan one month at a time and use a single sheet of paper for that whole month. I use the Monthly Lesson Planner.
School teachers have to plan their every moment to make sure kids are occupied and finished with work at certain times, but homeschoolers don’t. We can be a bit more free and easy with our schedules. So the planner has space for the activities, books, and worksheets that need to be accomplished, but it doesn’t have space for an hour by hour, play by play of the day.
Also, we only have to plan the things that change. My kids do the same math, grammar, writing program, and foreign languages every day. I don’t have to write down which math lesson needs to be completed each day for each kid. We just do the next one in the book.
So the planner shows the four Layers of Learning subjects: history, geography, science, and art. It also has spaces for reading because I need to keep track of which books each of my children has been assigned to read, mostly so I remember to get them from the library on time. There is also a space for “other” because sometimes special assignments come up.
A Guided Tour of My Monthly Planning
First of all notice that the planner has room for four weeks. Some months have more than four. They might have four and a half or even five full weeks. We always use those extra weeks for our breaks. They end up nicely spaced through the year and give us breaks exactly when we need them. It also keeps my planning simpler and more tidy.
Every week I plan a day for each of the four Layers of Learning subjects. You can read more about how I actually manage my week here. I pick activities and books we might need and I write them in the little square along with the topic and the unit number. The library books I need are underlined in red so I remember to put them on hold ahead of time. Also, what you see here is for my four younger kids, from 1st grade through 7th grade. My two high schoolers work completely off of their Evernote planners and on their own.
The reading assignments are in a box by themselves with the books I need from the library underlined in red. All of my kids, even my high schoolers, books are listed here next to their initials so I remember which book is for which kid. This week I also have notes to give math tests to my three oldest, those are always on Friday so I don’t have to remember or even note down which day.
Every week we cover a different grammar concept. We do this in just a few minutes as a group on the blackboard. To see how we do this, read our Writer’s Workshop Basics. I make a note of the concept I want to cover and write it in the “other” column. In theory we do this every day, in reality we do it two or three times a week.
I also want my kids to write polar bear reports this week. They all have this assignment, from little to big, but obviously I have different expectations based on their level.