We’ve been talking about how to organize our school rooms, so today I thought I’d show you the real key to my homeschooling
sanity organization — my planning notebook.
Way back when, when I first started homeschooling our oldest son, I tried using planning software, such as Edu-Track and Homeschool Tracker. For some moms, these work great. Neither one quite fit my personality, which is to customize and customize. <wink> I also tried purchasing a teacher’s plan book at a school supply store. Same problem, only worse, because I really don’t need seating charts for just my few kids.
So starting very early in our homeschooling “career,” I started customizing my own planning book, just using Word and Excel on my computer. (Open Office has a free version.) It fits my style, plus I’m able to save all the planning sheets to use with younger children coming up. At the end of the school year, my planning notebook goes into the attic, in a “portfolio” box for that school year. One of the most fun parts of the summer for me is making a fresh, new notebook for a fresh, new school year.
So let’s take a peek inside my planning notebook for the 2010-2011 school year.
Inside the Front Cover
As soon as you open my notebook, you’ll see a lot of odds and ends and daily junk in the inside pocket.
- Scrap paper.
- A public school calendar clipped from the newspaper.
- Pieces of paper where I’ve scribbled ideas and things to do for each child.
- Sample schedules of my own and of families online, all scribbled on, of course.
- Sticky notes stuck here and there — “Get a new chapter book for Arik from the library,” “Look up spelling of existance, or is it existence?” “What would it cost to take a field trip to the Indian ruins by the South Dakota border?” etc.
The first few pages of my notebook are the pages I look at every day, so they get a little dog-eared.
- Page 1: A list of each thing we do in “Together School.” I know, we do it almost every day, so you’d think I could remember what comes next, but I appreciate having a list to look at.
- Page 2: My master schedule for the day. No, we don’t always stick to it, but I like to have it handy for reference.
- Page 3: Our attendance calendar. I just mark each day that we actually have school, so I can quickly see how we’re doing.
- Page 4: Our school-year calendar. This is what I am hoping will happen this year.
- Page 5: Transcript records. Since my oldest son is in high school, I’m trying to write down what we do as we do it, since I won’t remember it all at the end of four years.
Behind the Tabbed Dividers
Next are all the tabbed divider sections that help me remember everything.
- Divider 1: Checklists — Each child has a checklist that he looks at daily to be sure he’s done all his independent subjects. They have a copy of their checklists in their own notebooks, but these are for me to refer to, to keep everyone accountable.
- Divider 2: Together School — Here I keep most of the memory work that we’re doing for “together school.” I have Spanish vocabulary and Bible memory verses, a poem for the month, chores we’re working on, etc.
- Dividers 3-7: One for Each Child — Behind these tabs, I’ve got:
- reading logs
- lesson plans for individual subjects
- lists of science supplies I need to buy
- notes of things this child needs to work on or wants to learn
The Back of My Notebook
At the very back of my notebook, I have a bunch of miscellaneous teacher helps:
- A zipper pouch — This holds my pens, pencils, highlighters, paper clips, sticky notes, and a couple odds-and-ends (like ponytail bands, a Lego or two, etc.).
- Blank notebook filler paper
- Report cards (because I’m required to turn one in here in Minnesota)
- HSLDA info
- Spelling rules
- Sentences to diagram for grammar
I think that’s about everything. My kids each have their own school notebooks, too, which are very similar to mine except that they also have plastic sheet protectors to hold their notebooking pages.
For the coming school year, I’m planning to use pages from Mom’s Tool Belt, because they’re just so pretty! (I also have a “Command Central” notebook in my kitchen, to keep my house and health organized. I use their planning pages for this, too. You can read more about my kitchen notebook in my Too Tired book. Then I have a notebook to keep all my writing organized. Finally, I have a small binder I use to keep myself organized. Soon, I’ll need a notebook to keep all the notebooks organized! LOL!)
I’d love to hear how you keep yourself organized for school. I’m really looking forward to the comments this week. Post away!
Thank you for this! Very helpful.
I homeschool one little lad, so everything we do or plan to do just goes into my diary and/or onto the calendar if it is an outing. Outings tend to be less frequent in winter (which it is here in NZ now).
I have folders and clearfiles, and tried to keep one for the housework – but it just took up space and made the kitchen look more cluttered that it needed to. I tend to get rid of stuff which causes stress – and lists of chores cause me stress! Now if I see something needs cleaning, and have a few spare minutes, out comes the rag and spray and it is done – no stress of anticipation, “have to” or “must” lists. Developing good habits and having easy access to the tools as they are needed is a good idea, as well as having a general dislike of mess and dirt/dust/mould etc.
As for the “school” work – a couple of book bags which live near the dining table takes care of the clutter of papers and pencils. They only get opened once a day if that, and always go back where they belong.
lawrence R. alejado says
Catherine Jaime says
After 30 years of home educating, and 9 graduates, record keeping is NOT something I want to spend much of my time on. But I constantly work with other homeschool moms who need to or want to do more record keeping. I will pass on a link to your blog, so they can glean from your great suggestions.
After so many years of educating my 12 children, our homeschooling with the last three has morphed into more of a cooperative learning situation, so keeping track for us isn’t too difficult – for instance, next year they’ll do their biology on Thursdays with another mom, they’ll do Shakespeare and Economics on Wednesdays in a class that I teach, etc. And they will all three be in junior high or high school, so we are dealing with transcripts, but I don’t consider those to be too big of a deal anymore, after doing as many as I have.
Liz Roadman says
I’ve just come across your website. Let me say THANK YOU! I am a brand new HSer…we are starting Kindergarten this year. We aren’t as eclectic as you yet (public home school charter school), I hope one day that I will feel comfortable enough to put together and plan my own curriculum. I lack the motivation for structure, so this will be an adventure for all of us.
I am looking forward to pouring over your blog until school starts…and possibly after when I need to be doing laundry or dishes. hehe