Sunday, 10 August 2014

Five Tips for Easier Planning.

As a homeschooler it's easy to fall into the planning trap - spending most of your spare time planning and trying to create educational activities. 
I decided to share a few ways I've found to save time planning my lessons.

1) Incorporate more group lessons.
This year science, history, Spanish, Latin, geography and some math lessons are all joint - these require only planning once for all 4 kids and I just have to tailor the assignment/activity to their individual levels. We also use lots of living books in our joint lessons - if you are interested in finding some, living Math list them by topic.

2) Don't be afraid to use other peoples work.
I've started using unit studies more as they provide a great educational hands on experience for the kids and give me a much needed break. My favourite's at the moment are Homeschool Share and Picture Book Explorers by Branch Out World. Wether its part of our fossil study, natural history or basic electronics - I know I can find an mini unit study or lapbook that will make thing more interesting for them.

3) Get the kids involved.
I've sourced topics from the girls and even had them typing our schedule for me on excel (a sneaky ICT lesson). They also love the responsibility of laminating and filing which is great for me. I've even had them make a 'wish list' of books they would like to read for specific topics.

4) Don't plan all at once. 
This is confession time - last year I spent my 6 weeks of summer school planning my year. I was really good and did all my printing, laminating, filing and even had my books for that week in my file box so I was already to go. Unfortunately it resulted in me starting the year with burn out : (
It also meant that during the year I missed out on researching or inventing new activities for the upcoming topics or seeking out new books, as in my head they were already planned.                 
This year I've scheduled our school topics for the year and decided to work in 6 week clumps, this means I've printed, laminated etc everything for the first 6 weeks and will tackle the next batch when we are on week 4 of school and so on.

5) Pinterest is my secret helper. 
I allow myself some time each week to use pinterest to research new ideas for lessons. I am a visual person so seeing ideas is great for me. When I'm planning I type in each topic and collect pictures of the best ideas which I collate onto a sheet and pop in the front of that weeks file so when I pull it out I can see what additional 'activities' I want them to do that week.

This, for example, is whats in the front of my folder for food webs and chains,

it has photos of activities I like, book for group reading and links to various clips I want them to watch.

I also wanted to share one final piece of advice that has almost become my mantra - Remember your schedule is just a schedule. Don't get stressed if life throws you a curve ball and you fall behind, being with your kids is what matters most and is the schedule falls by the wayside a little then you can always pick it up again next year : )

If you have any tips that make planning easier I would love to hear from you.

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