Monday, April 11, 2016

Planning for the Next School Year

This school year is wrapping up, and the end of April means one thing, it's time to start planning the next homeschool year.  Last year I wrote that for the 3rd year in a row I was trying a new homeschool planner.  But once, this year I am again using what I used last year.  I really love the Erin Condren Teacher planner.  It's so pretty that I want to do the school work, and in a year like this year that is especially useful.  The homeschooling community refers to years like these as "Homeschooling through Hardship" or a "Sabbatical year." And while it's been a hard year, one of the benefits to homeschooling this year was the flexibility we had.  And surprisingly enough  we have accomplished alot this year, much of what I planned, just not exactly the way I had planned.  But more on that in my end of school year post later.

There were three things that I did again this year.  Now this year I bought the 2015-2016 planner new from the EC website.  So I had both of the pages at the beginning the About this School Year page, and the Hints for the Substitute page.  I couldn't think of a use for both, but I repurposed one to be our school cover page.  I also again redid the birthday page to turn it into a field trip log.  Another thing I love about this planner is all the Absentee pages.  Now, I don't need to track attendance for a class, but they make a perfect set of book logs, which I do need both in PA and now in Florida.  There are several pages of graph paper after this section, some of which I also labeled in the same way this year, so that I would have plenty of book logs.

This year I used the last two graph pages for some information I might need to readily access. On one side I entered all the color codes and abbreviations that I use.  This way, if anyone ever needs to take over for me during the school year, all the information is there together.  Last year, when we came to Florida for a week to house hunt, Memaw continued school with the kids for me, and this would have made it easier.  I've also gone over everything with Gary so that he can help out when I'm sick if I need to.  The other side I've put together a contact list.  I have our contact at the school board, our evaluator, and a list of useful websites for homeschool in Florida.

One of the things I love about this planner is the planning pages.  I had never tried yearly planning before, and obviously much of our year from September on, totally went in the trash, but it was great when we got back on track, and where working a little harder to make up ground, to see what I had planned on and not over scheduling too much.  But the real plus for me was to use the note pages to formulate objectives for the year.  Objectives were required in PA, and while my write ups for the state weren't very detailed, I thought it was useful to have some personal goals.  By the end of our school year we will probably have accomplished about 75% or so of what I had planned, and I was pretty ambitious with last year's goals.  I've already worked out the kids academic goals for the next year.  But I still have a blank page that I plan to list some life skills that we need to address this year.  Like I still haven't made time to sit down and teach our two kids to tie their own shoes.  Opps.

Of course the bulk of the planner is the lesson planning pages.  There are only 40 weeks worth, which is a little bit of a problem for me since we school year round.  Of course there are breaks, but I like to have 52 weeks because I like to document alot of things that I find educational, but aren't strictly academic.  I am removing, very carefully, the pages I will have left over this year to add into the end incase I need them.  Not sure if they will hold up since I didn't want to uncoil the planner, but just snipped and added.  But I can try it. I will again change the top seven headers to the days of the week, and relabel the days down the side with our subject areas.  I just haven't printed up my labels yet, since Gary's not had time to fix the printer.

Last year I ultimately decided to use the checklist pages primarily for the kids chore charts.  They have a list of chores, some weekly and some daily that I check off if they do them.  And they get paid a quarter a job at the end of the week.  It is a great way for me to keep up with everything.  It allows them to take responsibility.  And it's a way for us to integrate some money management skills in our schooling.  I'm planning to start out Rebecca with her own chores soon, and so I revamped the layout a bit.  I went ahead and blocked off Monday through Friday of every week of our school year July-June.  There will be some weeks that they are gone, and others that they don't do their jobs, but this way I already have everything roughed out.  Toward the end of this year, I have started doing some testing, and wanting to be able to chart their progress that way.  So following the chore chart, I used the end of the page to chart the remaining Alpha test that Ruth will complete into next school year, and then under it the math test through the lesson I'm projecting us to finish in the new Beta book.  On the following page I've already listed the spelling test.  At two a week, we should have at least that many.  I still have a number of pages after that incase there is anything else I feel the need to add or chart to follow.

And of course there are still all the monthly spreads.  I really like that each day has it's own box now, before Saturday and Sunday shared a box at the end of the week, which constantly had me off on my days because the first day of the week isn't Monday.  But there are no longer 6 weeks, so there are the occasional months where two days are in one box, which is a pain for me.  In the past I have used these to track days and hours.  That isn't required in Florida, but I may continue to track for my use.  There is only one note page at the end of each month instead of two, so I'll have to see if that leaves me plenty of room for my monthly notes.  I probably won't have alot of extra room for doodles and things I've added in there.  However, I've also taken all the extra checklist out of this year's planner, again by carefully snipping and moving them.  I may need to use them for extra notes or documentation.  I've kind thought about using them with each month to add pictures of what the kids are doing, kinda like a scrapbook, instead of just their's and my drawings.  Since I will use this along with a small notebook with samples of their work, this is part of their portfolio, and the pictures would just be another fun way to document our days.

If you are interested in purchasing an EC Teacher planner or any of her other items, you can use my referral link, and we both get a discount.  You on your first order, and me on my next order.

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