Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homeschooling Year One - Kindergarten / Pre-Kindergarten: Daily Planning and Logging

The children are at gymnastics camp this week. Three hours every morning. It is blissful. As much as I've been enjoying homeschooling I've also rather desperately missed having some quiet morning hours to myself. I'm an introvert. Quiet alone time is something of a necessity. Without it, I feel increasingly... stretched thin. And so, I'm grabbing the opportunity provided to me by gymnastics camp to share some things with you. :-)

Homeschooling, is obviously my current obsession. I believe that it will eventually fall into a routine that will return balance to my life, but that's the nature of starting something new. So expect something of a homeschooling focus to the blog for a bit.

A while back I created a homeschooling planner. Prior to beginning to actually use it I decided that I needed to switch from something bound to a mini binder. I just like binders. I reworked some of the formatting from the original version and popped it into a binder. Also, the original planner only included weekly plan sheets and I decided I really did need daily ones. I ordered the binder from Amazon because even office supply stores didn't have a mini 3-ring binder around here. I used Microsoft Publisher and created the pages from scratch. I print them out two-sided in landscape mode, trim off the extra length, and punch holes.

I have sections for record keeping (attendance and logs), the current month's daily plans, past month's plans, state standards checklists, etc. I decided that our school year would run from July to June to mimic public schools. We started homeschooling in June, so I used June as a test run for the planner. At the end of June I sat down and tweaked my lesson plan format and I'm now using a slightly modified version of the daily plan sheet and logging chart.

Here's our daily plan sheet. (This is just a screenshot of the print preview in Publisher.)

I write in the day and the date at the top. I enjoy keeping track of our total number of homeschooling days. (1 through... ?) Writing them in by hand, allows for days missed due to things like gymnastics camp, visitors from out of town, doctor's appointments, etc. without having to scratch out days and dates that I had pre-printed. Circle time, handwriting/writing, math, and our reading program are consistent. I just pick up and continue from where we left off the day before and so it was silly for me to hand write the same thing out day after day. I just went ahead and typed those up as "ongoing". The sections that are blank are the sections where our lessons vary from day to day.

All the way on the right, you'll notice a section for "minutes". That's where I write in the amount of time we spent in each area for the purposes of logging. The state of Missouri has annual requirements for homeschoolers and so this is my method of keeping track. During the day, as I refer to my planner I'll make notes about which subjects we did during that day and the amount of time we spent doing it. At the end of the day I tally up the times and transfer them to the Learning Log.

So far, this system is working well for us. It looks like a lot of work, but in practice, it is taking no more than 15 minutes a day. The sections we do daily require no time at all because they are ongoing. At the end of the day I sit down for 5-10 minutes and think about our plans for the next day. I try to rotate in other "subjects" at least once a week. I try to do something science focused, social studies focused, arts/crafts focused, and so on once a week and so I'll write those in.

The ongoing lessons do require some maintenance work. The short version is that at the end of an ongoing lesson (math, reading, spelling) I preview the next day's lesson and prepare any materials that need to be prepped right then. It takes no more than 5-10 minutes and the children take a short break while I get that done. So, at the end of the math lesson I preview the next lesson and gather any manipulatives I might need that I don't already have on hand. At the end of a reading lesson I preview the lesson for the next day. Those lessons often involve cutting something out, so I'll go ahead and do that and place the cut out words in an envelope of the binder ready to go for the next day. The children tend to get a drink, go to the bathroom, sit down at their computer for a few minutes, or play with something while I spend those 5-10 minutes prepping the next day's lesson. Then I call them back to the table for the next thing.

I have a monthly calendar at the beginning of the lesson plan section that helps me keep track of special things I need to remember. For example, in June, arts and crafts included making something for Father's Day. The monthly calendar helps me remember to include those types of events in my lesson planning. So that's planning and logging. I'll post on how we organize/store all the materials for each subject and more on the math, reading, and writing programs we're using. For now, however, this post is long enough.

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