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planning our school without lesson plans

disclaimer:  Ths post is in no way intended to offend someone who writes lesson plans for her homeschool. We each need to do what is best for our own family and for my family it is best to not have official lesson plans.

This week is a great example of why I don’t write lesson plans. I’ve had 3 sick children (another child was sick for the previous week and a half), we’re packing up our house, we’re still looking for a place to move although we’ve put a offer in to buy a home and I’ve had insomnia. I don’t write lesson plans because I could never in my wildest dreams plan for a season like the one we’re having.

When I first started homeschooling I just kind of did my own thing. We read a lot, did some math and writing and we were all good. Then I met real homeschoolers. Homeschoolers who spent the entire month of August reading through their curriculum, planning out the school year for each child, making grade sheets and report cards. I felt like a complete slacker and very inadequate to teach my child.

I mean, Christian was getting older, he was going into second grade, for goodness sake. If I didn’t get on the ball with some planning, he might never go to college. So, I got out the math (Miquon Math) and decided what lessons he would do on what days. I did the same for our Five in a Row, for reading, handwriting, our together Bible reading. I planned our days off. I could tell you in October what we would be learning in March.
The problem was we never made it October. One day in September Christian struggled with some math and we needed  to slow down. Then I got sick and didn’t do the Five in a Row or Bible reading or anything else for 2 weeks. I couldn’t just change the dates because math got done some days and so did handwriting and reading, just not on the same days.

I was so overwelmed, I had no clue what to do. Carl said, “Just do what you did last year.” Oh, please, (eyes rolling) don’t you know that you’re supposed to have a plan? As we talked I realized that I did have a plan, I just didn’t need “lesson plans”.

So, what is our plan? Well, it depends on the child and the subject.

For subjects that have numbered lessons like math, spelling, grammar and handwriting we just start with lesson 1 and then lesson 2, etc. It doesn’t really matter if lesson 1 was done on Monday or Friday in September or January. We aim to do one lesson each day we school. If a child is sick, it’s okay, he can take off of school and the rest of us can continue on. He just picks up where he left off when he is feeling better. There’s no feeling like your behind because you just keep working through the lessons until they are done.

Our family does participate in a local co-op on Thursdays. On Mondays I remind them that they need to have their co-op work done too. I usually don’t know what the homework is unless they ask me for help or it is a classs I’m teaching. Again, there’s no need for me to write lesson plans for co-op work.

For our together time, Bible reading and Rip the Page we aim to do these each morning as we start our school day. Having our together time first thing seems to ground our day. For Bible reading we just pick a book of the Bible and read and discuss a section. For Rip the Page we just do the next section. I thought about skipping around in this book but then I’d have to write it down.

Our history and science is divided into units and we aim for a unit a week. Since I’m teaching the science this year at co-op, I will have to make sure we stay on track with the syllabus.

I also make a syllabus for each subject that my high schoolers are taking. I have target dates on it but if they miss a day it’s okay I don’t have to rework the entire plan.

I have a very simple student planner that I picked up at WalMart that I write what I need to do each day in. This is for home, school, co-op, etc. Now, I don’t include things that we do as part of our routine anyway so you won’t find do dishes or laundry or any of the above school stuff unless I need to buy something for a project. I might write that I need to focus on cleaning a certain room this week, but that is usually decided the week before not 6 months before.

So what about you, do you do lesson plans? If so,  what do you do when life interups? If not, how do you plan your school time, or do you? I’d love to hear what’s working for other families. 

Thanks for sharing with your friends!


Monday 23rd of January 2012

Jen, we've used weekly assignment charts in the past and I probably need to use them with Benjamin. I'll have to think on that now that we're getting settled into a routine. It is really nice to have children who are self starters, instead of me having to sit with them all the time.

jennifer keith

Sunday 22nd of January 2012

Lessons plans completed for a whole year? Impratical! For my benefit, I plan out individual 'weekly assignment charts' for my 2 guys for our upcoming school week. With these charts they complete and track their daily progress without my having to continually look over their shoulders.


Friday 2nd of September 2011

Donna: It's so important to be able to take off when Dad is off for our family also. And like you I don't always know when that is.

Patty: I like the idea of logging our daily accomplishments. I might need to do this with my 9 year old. He's still not very dilegent with his work and sometimes, we'll come to the end of the week and I'll realize that he hasn't really done much of his independent work.


Thursday 1st of September 2011

Our days change so quickly that following a lesson plan would be too hard. Plus I’m not very good at following a plan.

Each day I have an idea of what I would like to accomplish.

First on my mental list is piano practice; if this isn’t done first thing each day it usually gets pushed to the side and never completed.

After piano we begin our normal subjects; I try to complete 1 full page, front and back, of language and 2 full pages, front and back, of math. These are our priority subject that I like to do every day except on co-op day.

Whenever I get called to the phone or need to be in the kitchen I like to have library books on hand so we don’t waist school time.

Last year I began logging our daily accomplishments and it has really helped me stay focused. Now I can look through entries and know we are behind on reading library books or ahead in math. I guess my daily logging is as close to lesson planning as I get.


Thursday 1st of September 2011

I totally agree with you. I don't plan lessons, because they never end up getting done that way. With 3 children that are learning disabled, as well as other problems, I find it best to just write down what we did each day, as it gets done. I use a book/calendar that looks just like yours. This way, when my husband is off due to weather (especially in winter) we can take a day off with him, unplanned! I don't see ever being able to really "plan" school. I even use a computer based curriculum for a couple of the kids that plans for me. We are more strict with it, but if it doesn't get done, it's still waiting for us the next day, or the next! LOL!