Yesterday I talked about planning for success with the focus being more on the big picture. It’s more of a “what do you need to accomplish in your homeschool?” line of thought. And, after reading a fellow Crewmate’s post on planning, I feel like I should have included a line about revisiting and adjusting as needed as failures do happen. But, after talking about the big picture, I thought it was good to spend some time in the nitty gritty of homeschooling and talk about lesson planning today.
Lesson Planning in Our Early Years
Back when I first began homeschooling the boys, I chose to use Catholic Heritage Curricula as our main “program” with a substitution of Math U See for math and the addition of Story of the World Volume one as part of a co-operative learning experience with another new to homeschooling family.
What I loved about it is that the program has lesson plans with one week spread over 2 days showing everything that you needed to do on a given day for a particular subject. They went even a step further by shading the list to reflect what was a ‘core’ subject (e.g. reading or math) which needed to be done and what subjects could be dropped if there just wasn’t time to do it.
The only ‘lesson planning’ I had to do was around math (which was simply going in order of the lessons and determining if they really needed all the pages per lesson or just a few) and the history we were doing in the co-op. A boon to me was that the other mom had taught social studies for years and we did the planning of what to do and who would ‘lead’ it together while the boys played.
Lesson Planning Today (Especially High School)
Over the years, I moved away from CHC’s materials (mostly as the boys aged and until recently they didn’t have those nice 2 page per week spreads past 4th grade.) Some programs we have used or currently use provide some structure to what the student should be doing. Sonlight, which we used last year for social studies, and Notgrass’ Uncle Sam and You, which my 8th grader is currently using, do this. And, last year I purchased lesson plans specific for my high school student’s Biology class. (Visit my Virtual Curriculum Fair Posts to see more specifics about curriculum and other studies.)
Other than those few instances, I have to do all the lesson planning on my own. Some of the subjects are easy to do. Math and Spelling both move from lesson to lesson in an orderly fashion with only the slight adjustment for timing when a concept isn’t picked up as fast I as anticipated. Then there are others that have me longing for the simpler days….
My best recommendation, especially when dealing with a high school class, is to remember that the schools rarely cover an entire textbook in a year.
Instead, the teacher might pick and choose from the text what to teach and then determine what assignments to give. They work off standards determined by their state (or now the Common Core which many states and school districts are adopting) to make sure necessary topics are covered and then skip the rest.
Some text books are easy to do this and others can lend themselves to a lot of self doubt. I struggled with putting together a course of study for physical science in my son’s 9th grade year as I tried to incorporate all of the chapters. This year I was looking at his physics book with a sense of dread creeping up when I read a long paragraph in the teacher’s manual stating it was near impossible to cram the entire text into one year and which sections were essential. That freed my lesson planning up to focus more on how long to spend on a chapter (usually a week for that subject) and what assignments to give.
The other thing I have learned this year with a son in school is that you do not need to assign or grade every single possible problem or worksheet.
I was a little shocked looking at his grades online to see that for some subjects the teacher only had a few grade points for a 9 week period. I had gotten into the more things to grade is better mentality in our homeschool. What was really happening is busy work for the boys, stress on me when they were not getting it all done, and more work for me when it came time to grade it all.
I’ve cut way back on those ‘worksheets’ for my eldest son and have opted to have some of the teacher resources I have available be used in less conventional ways. For example, in his World History class I am giving him chapter test pages as open book review and then the unit test is closed book. And, while there are a lot of great looking worksheets in his physics program, I am only giving him a few that really fit a need rather than fill time.
Lesson Planning Resources
** Some of the links below are affiliate links and may generate a small commission should you decide to purchase through them. I only recommend resources I truly use and love.**
Beyond looking directly at your chosen materials, you can find resources to help you with lesson planning. Plain pen and paper is a great starting place and a way I’ve attacked some of my initial planning. I recently did this to figure out how to get my eldest son’s work to fit in to a schedule that would end in mid-May. History chapters that have lessor importance to me were assigned as reading for a day with a unit test serving as a quick check of his reading. Others have a bit more time for digesting as well as a few projects instead of a worksheet. And, you can see that I’m skipping over some sections of his physics textbook as 40 chapters is a bit much to cover in one year!
The Schoolhouse Planners available FREE to members of SchoolhouseTeachers.com have pages to help you map out by day, week, month, semester or year. Shown below is the calendar for 2014 printed from one of the planners so I could mark out the Spring semester with us finishing school by Memorial Day.
Homeschool Tracker Plus (which I’ll talk more about later this week) allows you to create lesson plans with assignments that can be scheduled to a student.
If you like pretty sheets, there are also some nice MomsToolBelt.com Homeschool Planner Pages either a freebie for Lifetime member of Notebooking Pages or on the regular page for MomsToolBelt members.
Looking for more posts like this one? Here are some previous posts on planning for homeschoolers:
How do you approach lesson planning?
What resources do you have to share that have been helpful?
This post is part of the 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials with the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Take some time to visit a few of my fellow ‘crewmates’ and see what they are saying:
Julie @ Nurturing Learning
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Nicole @ Journey to Excellence
Adriana @ Homeschool Ways
Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Sarah @ Delivering Grace