View Full Version : How do you organize your day/curriculum?

02-11-2011, 10:23 AM
I just got an email from HSBC about a spiral homeschool organizer and it sounds good, but I'm thinking for me it would be something else to keep track of. I'm just not sure. Do you use binders or software??

My life has been pretty scheduled (out of necessity) since I had my twins, and the idea of just going with the flow is appealing now that they are getting closer to school age but I honestly think my kids do better with a little structure since they are so used to it. Right now anyway. I'm just curious what has worked for others.

02-11-2011, 10:36 AM
We're a mixture of structured and not so much. We definitely do best if we get math and L/A finished first thing in the morning; sometimes we do history and science in the mornings too and sometimes they happen at other parts of the day. I'm most concerned with the math and L/A so if that's all we (formally) accomplish in a day I'm okay with that. All the other stuff manages to sneak their way into our days organically.

I have a general outline of what I'd like to accomplish during the year, but I don't do a daily schedule. Usually on Fridays or over the weekend I'll gather the supplies and books we need for the upcoming week and organize them loosely by day, but there is always room for flexibility. I do keep a daily log of what we accomplish, but not what I had planned; that way the log is a positive journal rather than full of crossed out lines! :)

I am finding that we are using more formal curriculum now than when we started a year ago. We now use a math program (MM), a grammar program (GUM), a spelling program (Soaring with Spelling) and a science program (RSO), all of which we follow more or less in order. History we study chronologically so that's already sort of figured out ahead of time too (although I make up our program). It's important to me that we cover certain areas on a regular basis and I do have high expectations, but I also realize that some days just aren't going to go as planned. Our schedule reflects that for our family. :)

02-11-2011, 10:41 AM
Less is more. I track what I have to for my state: 180 days, show that I am teaching 5 subjects (ie keep a diary), and keep samples of kids' work from each subject. There. Done. I do have online planning/tracking software, but I haven't used it yet. It just seems like more work.

There is no "order" for subjects. We do seatwork 9a-12p. We eat lunch at noon and finish up loose ends if there are any. If there is a project going on, DS9 may hit it after lunch and work till 130pm. Cutoff is 130pm, though, for "mommy is here for you" schooltime. After that, though, is quiet (ie leave mommy alone) time. Go continue project, read, play games, sleep, whatever UPSTAIRS.


02-11-2011, 10:56 AM
I have a chart that shows what is expected for each child for each subject. You can see it here: 2010-11 Curriculum Plan (https://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=11XOia-J3e4LUtZ6c3md-u2bWRuLY0iDqx0p0YzM0M1M&hl=en&authkey=CPbAi4AB&pli=1#).
I keep that on our school table (we have a glass top on it) and have coloured the subjects that need to be done daily in yellow.

I keep a blank teacher's planner where I write down what actually gets done for each child and together. I also record on it any other activities that we might do, like JN Mystery Class, lapbooks, field trips, etc...

We are structured, but not very strict. I don't look at the clock during the day, it's more "this is what needs to get done".

I hope that answers your question!

02-11-2011, 11:23 AM
I don't have to keep records, but I do keep an informal record book that shows what we've done, just in case we ever move and need to provide some sort of documentation. I keep all papers in binders until the end of the school year and then toss them. We start school each day after I drop M2 off, and we get done when we get done. Some days that's 10 a.m. and other days it's not till almost dinnertime.

02-11-2011, 11:30 AM
I dont have to keep records. MOst of our curriculum, I just do as much as we can do in the allotted time. History right now I'm doing an ad-hoc thing, which I do have a schedule worked out in excell, to coordinate the book I read w both boys and the 2 additional books my older boy reads. Every week I make a schedule for the week, but that is a chart in a word document. Its pretty stable, but i put the reading assignment pages for my older son on it, and note anything unusual like dr apts, so we can plan around them. I havent figured out why i would use a planner, unless I guess you didnt want to make your own document on the computer - but on the computer you dont have to re-write things that stay teh same every week. I just 'save as' and put the first date of teh week as the title.

02-11-2011, 12:09 PM
We were much more organized our first year than this year. Since we were under the impression that the homeschool evaluator would want to see grades/percentages/etc., we had an actual grade book. But when it was clear that they didn't give two squats about that and just wanted some representative samples of work twice a year, that's what we started compiling. In some cases it's on computer (we use Teaching Textbooks for math, which does all the grading for us) and in others it's our handwritten assessments (science, spelling, etc.).

As for the day's organization, I usually try to hit up language arts right away, because experience has shown me that the further along in the day we go, the less likely that subject is to be paid attention to. After that normally is science, then spelling, Spanish (on computer/Rosetta Stone), social studies/reading (often combined), finished up with PE (karate) and music (piano). Art is a pretty infrequent occurrence because Hurricane just isn't into it, and we get that once a month at the co-op, which apparently is good enough for the county.

For Spanish, we have a binder that has all the homeschool edition materials printed out, with sections for tests, worksheets, answer key, etc. But that's by far the most organized individual subject. Left to our own devices, we just place things on their areas of the shelves and just know where stuff is. :)

02-11-2011, 12:11 PM
We don't have to keep records but I find that I feel better if I jot down what we did each day. I use the BusyBody Book (http://www.busybodybook.com/). I find it helps us to have a framework that we follow but also allow for quite a bit of flexibility. So I jot my notes after we complete something rather than use it as a list of things to get done. I tried that at first and found that we just didn't stick to my plan enough to make this work. I also found at first I spent too much time on my notes so it was just one more thing to keep track of. Now I just jot a note or two, or maybe the lesson number and keywords as we do along. It's become routine enough that I don't find it cumbersome.

We do have an order for subjects based on a combination of what works for me and what DS wants to tackle first. So for example he loves math so we start off with math every day. I don't care what we do first but I prefer to get our more structured lessons done first and the independent work later. That way I can move on to do some of my own things or work with my other DS for a bit. Another reason I use the planner is because we don't do a lot of written work and so there isn't always a lot to show for what we've done even though I know we've accomplished a lot.

02-11-2011, 12:40 PM
I have two ways really

Twice a year More so onthe first day, I spend an entire day making a "curriculum", an attendance sheet that is ALREADY FILLED IN for the whole school year, AND evaluations ALREADY done.

These are of course for the state. I used to not do this but I also learned the state etc doesnt really GIVE two squats. So then the paperwork nightmare is done and filed away until such times as things must be sent in or shown.

Then there is the reality of our everyday lives. I only keep track in my mind. I teach or DD learns to mastery. She cant move on unless she masters the material. (which is why I can write the evals out early. I already know her grades etc.). We have been doing one "class" in each of her subjects everyday, we have also done daily blocks where she only works on LA or Math for a whole day but much more than she normally would on a regular day. Either way works just great. Its whatever we feel like. It all gets mastered in the end. If she finishes the years work before the school year is over, she gets to create he OWN lessons (or tell me what she wants to learn). This has happened every year and is kind of a tradition somehow now.

She is actually almost done with 8th grade right now.. it looks like in 2-3 more weeks she will be finished with everything... I am going to let her take a couple of weeks off.. and then we are going to just begin 9th grade.

The high school work schedule is a bit different. Because I have pretty much scheduled college courses for most things, I am going to have her only working on 2 classes at a time to completion plus her "electives" (animation and astronomy).

I WILL have to grade for these. High school is of course different. Alas, since she is still required to learn it until mastery.. I am not yet sure what exactly is going to change. Time will tell.

The only thing I know personally is that schedules are mostly for paperwork and paperwork is for the state. Your family and children are not the state.

02-11-2011, 02:56 PM
Schedules are also good for those of us who cant function without them . . .

02-11-2011, 03:33 PM
I use a plain calendar template in word, which I don't even type on. I like to write with a mechanical pencil, it helps me rememeber what is going on in my life better than technology does. The kids help me map our the month. We have big picture goals mapped out for the entire year but we generally just keep weekly goals a month out. I have catch up friday afternoon, when my children look through their goals for the week and spend the time catching up or celebrating meeting their goals by baking treats, going to the zoo or whatever they are interested in. I use catch-up time as my catch up, meaning i catch some zzzzzz. We just created the basic outline of March today during our catch-up time as everyone had met their goals. Currently everyone is napping but me. Its a backwards day. I'm pretty low tech. I'm sure I would start a computer program with enthusiam and loose track of it within a week or two.

02-11-2011, 04:01 PM
My new year's resolution was to get better at keeping track of what's getting done, but so far I'm falling down on the job. Ugh.

I used to type up a list for each kid for each day, but that changed when we switched to workboxes. Now I just fill their boxes each morning. I need to start photographing what's in the boxes so I can remember what is getting done each week--at least that would be something!

For our school district I have to sign a form at the beginning of the year that says I will complete X number of hours, but it isn't divided up by subject, and I turn in a progress report at the end of the year for each child, which is pretty much me pulling out all my educationese and making sure I tick the right boxes when I'm describing what's been done.

02-11-2011, 04:30 PM
and I turn in a progress report at the end of the year for each child, which is pretty much me pulling out all my educationese and making sure I tick the right boxes when I'm describing what's been done.

I think I'm going to have to pick your brains when our first year ends to learn some of that "educationese". Maybe we can all share our progress reports on the MA group when the time comes.

02-11-2011, 04:53 PM
I think I'm going to have to pick your brains when our first year ends to learn some of that "educationese". Maybe we can all share our progress reports on the MA group when the time comes.

That's a good idea. I use a day planner to write down what the kids do each day and the books we read. The progress report is a Word document that I've been adding to every couple of weeks as we cover new topics and read new books. That's pretty much all it is, but it looks quite impressive already!

02-11-2011, 05:22 PM
Oh, AMM, what foresight to start the progress report and what discipline to add to it as the year goes along! Maybe if I put a bi-weekly task like that in iCal and create a million alerts for it I could actually do the same.

Dawn--great idea to share what we're doing on the MA group. I'd forgotten we had one. . . :)

Stella M
02-11-2011, 05:36 PM
A combo of habit - maths, LA always in the morning - book lists/ideas in the back of my learning diary, field trips on a calendar, daily record of learning jotted down in the front of learning journal and the rest of what we're doing kept in my head. I like lists but if I keep a list I get too focused on crossing things off the list. So no more lists for me!

Dd's have a page I typed out for them with subject areas and how much work they need to get done in a week. Then they can keep a check on what needs to be done and when.

Dd13 keeps her own learning diary wih a record of work completed each day.

02-11-2011, 05:39 PM
Technically we have to "keep records" but not attendance and not a curriculum. We're just supposed to keep a "portfolio of materials" - whatever that means. And really, no one knows what it means because they have no budget and to my knowledge have never gotten around to reviewing anyone. Not that I'm complaining about that.

Our day is organized as 1-2 hours of school in the morning. Everything is pretty ready to go and we just do it in whatever order feels right. I manage it though since my kids are pretty young. Then, we have outside activities most days. Those usually start around 10:00, so we have to be done with school by 9:00ish.

For records, I just keep a big calendar in the kitchen with our commitments on it. It shows classes and field trips. If we go somewhere without having pre-planned it, I mark it as well - such as swimming or to an extra museum (the sort of thing that happens in DC...).

Every other month, I pull down the calendar and compile a list of all our classes, field trips, and a selection of the books we read - usually the chapter book read alouds (they're fresh enough in my mind after only two months that this is easy). I also update with a sentence or two what we've been doing for each subject (again, fresh in my mind). That's also the time that we compile work for the portfolios and set goals, but that's another process.

02-11-2011, 10:00 PM
I try to get the kids to do things independently when I am exhausted from work the day before, but I do have fairly organized curriculum that we follow. The scheduling however is variable.

02-11-2011, 10:51 PM
We don't have to keep records. I have a binder with each subject, and everything for that subject in it. I keep examples of work so we can clearly see the progress through the year. It is good practice for the high school years, when I like to keep a portfolio. Pretty simple around here, we just do the next thing, till I have to design a 4 year high school plan, then it gets harder.

02-11-2011, 11:12 PM
I don't have to report to anyone, but currently we are super scheduled and structured. I am deschooling DD in an odd way. When she was in PS she got away with murder when it came to doing work. At the end of Gr. 2 she brought home more work that didn't even so much as have her name on it than anything that was semi-complete or complete. Yet she held a B avg. She would constantly say her work was done when she hadn't finished it or even started it. So until she understands that at home we'll actually be learning, not just staring off into space, we are hard core.

I have our lessons planned out literally to the minute (see my blog (http://http://homeschoolingnewbie.blogspot.com/2011/01/earned-time.html)). What pages we will do of what subjects each day. Short of illness, everything gets done. It can take an hour or 8. Sounds harsh, but I need DD to get into the habit of actually working. She was and still is very much a child who (if she's gonna do it at all), rushes as fast as she can through everything, whether it's something she enjoys or hates. Her printing is bare Gr. 1 in neatness, her coloring (which used to be amazing), is in the Kindergarten level.

It takes a lot of mean mommy, but she is slowly getting better. She will even occasionally keep working even after what she HAS to do is done. I'm hoping after 8-10 mths at home (we're in our 4th), we'll be able to relax a lot more. Just trying to get that school mentality out of her and remind her how much she loves to learn.

02-11-2011, 11:46 PM
farrarwilliams wrote
Those usually start around 10:00, so we have to be done with school by 9:00ish.

I am always in awe of morning people. We are sometimes all *awake* by 9:00ish. ;) Night owls, all of us.

02-14-2011, 05:08 PM
It's great hearing about what others are doing and go through the day? There are just so many choices out there and I am trying to make sure I don't become a curriculum junkie! :). I know my kids have different learning styles so I know I might have to use different things for each of them. I decided against a book type organizer, but software might be more my speed. Some days I feel lucky if I know what day it is so I know I need something! Lol!