Fall is just around the corner. Some schools have aleady started up again. Others of us are waiting till after Labor Day.
I was getting rather nostalgic when planning for this fall. It was 20 years ago that I began homeschooling, more or less, and it is 3 years ago that I finished homeschooling.
One of the keys to the successes that I did have in homeschooling was in the planning. Every school year I would decide for each student I had (varied with a maximum of 6 kids in the house and a minimum of 2) what subjects would be priority for that student, what books to use for each subject, and then I would sit down with each book, plow through it and enter lessons and target dates in the schedule for each kid. I would always plan for just 4 days per week (just to allow for flex), and I would always build in room for repeat lessons of difficult material, room for holidays, such that my plans for the most part HAPPENED every year.
Planning like that has two major advantages.
1. I have a goal, and the material gets covered
2. Kids seem to respect whatever you have put in writing more than whatever you ‘make up’ on the spot.
We did tons of reading aloud, and in fact, we spent a whole hour every morning in this pursuit. Here is my 2009/2010 plan for what the read aloud with my jr high and high school students:
Literature – Read aloud
a. Dante’s Divine Comedy
b. The Complete Works of Shakespeare Or at least his plays. (Any copy you own will do. They can share but it’s
easier if each had a copy. About 20 dollars used) We choose as we go.
c. The Faith of The Early Fathers Vol 1: St Hippolytus of Rome, St Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St Cyprian
of Carthage, St. Stephen I, Arius the Arch-Heretic, Council of Nicea, Eusibius, St. Athanasius, St Cyril of
Jerusalem, St Hilary, of Poitier, First Council of Constatinople. (Emphasis on Orthodoxy, not heresy)
d. Possibly Brothers Karamazov aloud too
Here is one example of a literature list I put together for an 11th grade girl who loves to read:
She would then schedule the books herself, as to how fast she would complete each one (usually reading at least three at a time), and here is one example of the blank sheet I required each one of my students to fill out for each new book they took on.
Once I had a list of all the student would do (Latin, Math, literature, science, etc.) I would create a check list for each student. My goal has always been that they be as independent as possible, and with a weekly checklist, apart from the time the student needs to spend with me in lessons, the student follows his or her checklist and gets the work done more or less independently Monday through Friday, with assignments dropped on time on my desk or in my email box at the end of each day.
Here is an example of a 9th grade boy’s check list for one school year: [click on image to see it enlarged.] In the case of the music lecture on this list, this was a DVD series we got at the library, so not everything he did was taught directly by me.
Likewise, I would make a chore list with daily chores, outlining carefully every task that needed doing during the week, from getting the youngest son with Down syndrome off the special needs school bus, to making dinner, to laundry, to scooping stuff in the back yard after the dog. This was also part of their check lists, and it was listed on the fridge, so they knew what to do, when to do it and what to expect.
Here is one example of how I divided up the work in the text Henle Latin I for a beginning Latin student:
1. Henle Latin 1 non-consumable textbook.
One per student
2. Henle Latin Study guides for units 1 & II, study guide for units III-V. One per student
http://www.memoriapress.com/descriptions/henleguide.html 4 x 14.95 + S&H
3. One 3×5 card file with dividers. One per student
4. 3×5 stack of 200 index cards
5. 3 ring binder with dividers and paper for exercises
6. Answer key for Henle Latin
Daily Work in Henle Latin
1. Lesson with teacher on white board
2. Daily student drill of paradigms and vocabulary cards
3. Daily exercises (written if Latin – English, on board with teacher if English to Latin)
4. Grade own exercises, show to teacher
5. Correct wrong exercises
In addition , I would decide how much of Henle Latin I to cover in the fall and spring, assign lessons for each week on a sheet, and have the whole school year mapped out with some weeks blank at the end for catch up in case we run behind, but basically, once we were committed to that plan, we pretty much finished the plan that school year, more or less.
My point? Planning is key. But good planning, realistic planning that will actually happen. Know yourself, your pace, your students, and set down some solid planning for your school year. It is also helpful in showing portfolios to homeschool evaluators.
Finally, I would recommend, and I did not do this myself except in hindsight, that for every year of high school, you add to the transcript for each high school student, so you don’t have a major transcript project to do when the students graduate. Here is one link for such, but you can easily make your own based on a template similar to this one as well: