This is the third and final post in my series on planning your homeschool! Today is all about scheduling.
It’s been so exciting (for me) to share these resources with you. My boys are pretty excited about their new My Student Planning Journals too. Today, I’m offering you four free planning journals. There are two versions of the My Teacher Planning Journal (Blank and With Subjects), and two different versions of the My Student Planning Journal (Raven or Librarian). Each journal is 45-47 pages long, with 40 weeks of planning schedules. I’m also going to explain how to use these tools.
The planning journals are the same structure I’ve been using for about six years. I thought it would be nice to have something visually fun to look at and easily printable year after year.
Don’t miss the other two planning posts and the printable planners from last week. There’s the My Homeschool Objectives Journal ~ which has tools to help you identify your goals for homeschool and for each student, and the My Homeschool Planning Journal ~ which will help you plan subjects, curriculum, resources, and supplies for the coming year.
I’m making these journals completely free for subscribers! When you register, you’ll receive emails with resources, thoughts, and gifts to help you disciple your kids. Did you sign up? OK, let’s get on with setting objectives for your homeschool! You’ll find the link to download your journal at the bottom of the post. Just click on the big red title.
My Teacher Planning Journal
I use a number of different resource every year to put together our homeschool plan, and I need an overall summary of each week. I also have a basic weekly schedule we follow. It’s flexible, but filling out this schedule each year keeps me from overscheduling, and helps me understand how making changes to our day will impact the week, and the rest of the year. Once I have my weekly overview sheets and weekly schedule filled out, it’s not hard to plan our week as we go.
I number our weeks (we do 36 weeks of formal schooling, with reading, math and Scripture memory in the summer), rather than dating them, because I insert the week numbers into my yearly planner. That way, I know when our breaks are, and I can easily re-number the calendar week numbers if something happens. So far, I’ve had at least one unexpected surgery every year we’ve homeschooled. Something always happens! Using week numbers instead of dates allows us to be flexible.
The blue and yellow schedules let you schedule two groups in each time slot. If you can divide your kids into two age groups (I did that when teaching both my middle school boys and toddler nieces), or if you want to make note of your own activity while your students are doing their independent work (I write while my boys read), this sheet will be helpful to you.
Here are my best tips for filling out your weekly schedule:
- Give your kids more time than you think they need. You’ll notice I did that in the Suggested Schedules for Bible Road Trip. You’ll want to leave some margin time for discussion, confusion, emergency snacks (I have middle school boys!), and just off-focus days. If you don’t leave plenty of room, you will likely find yourself frustrated with your kids. That doesn’t help anyone.
- Schedule the most important and most teacher-intensive work first. In our home, that means we begin with Bible, then do our character/theology reading, and our history read-alouds. By the time lunch is over, only independent reading and writing is left for older kids and (when they were here) younger kids have quiet/nap time, and I’m able to clean, write, manage business matters, or whatever else I need to take care of.
- Schedule breaks! Kids need to move. We have chores and exercise before starting school at 8am. We take an active break from 10 to 1030am. Then we break from 12 to 1pm. We could finish earlier without the breaks, but jumping on the trampoline, going for a walk, or playing basketball actually helps my boys focus. Active breaks at scheduled times helps eliminate so much frustration!
- Leave a three hour break once a week if your kids aren’t in high school yet. Use this break to visit friends, run errands, clean the house as a family, go on field trips, or what have you. If the 3 hour break is in your schedule, you can move it around as needed. This is a sanity saver for us!
Now that you have your weekly schedule filled out, and your curriculum and resources chosen, it’s time to schedule those out over 40 weeks. We usually use 36 weeks, as that’s how most curriculum is broken down. However, there are 40 weeks of schedules here for you. If you school year-round, you can either print extra pages, or start your scheduling over once you’ve made it through the 36 weeks of curriculum (I’m not sure how that works for year-round homeschoolers).
The With Subjects planning journal looks just like the page above. It’s easy. For each week, just write in the resource you’ll use for each subject, and the page numbers, tests, or writing assignments for that week.
In the Blank journal, you’ll write in your subject headings as well. (I left those… blank.)
That way, you’ll know each week exactly what resources you’re using, what the assignments for the week are, and you’ll be able to schedule them into your class slots each day. You can check off each assignment as you go. You’ll also have a written record (with your notes and check marks as you go) of what you’ve done each year.
The My Student Planning Journals are similar to the structure of the My Teacher Planning Journal. You’ll want a journal for each student, and I’ve made two designs to choose from. These are really aimed at older students who are beginning to take individual accountability for their work (say 4th grade and up), so I tried to choose fun artwork. You can pick either the Librarian (He’s made out of books ~ I love Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s work!) or a raven reading a book (from Carl Spitzweg).
There are weekly schedules in the front. Once you have your household weekly schedule completed, you can fill that out for your individual students. Again, the schedule is flexible (right?), but it helps everyone understand what a normal day is going to look like. Then, you can take your weekly schedules and write out assignments for your student. There is also a section for what they will do with you that week. (For instance, history read alouds or Bible discussions.) There’s also a section for notes, and columns to check off their work. Kids can check off their work in the first column when they finish it, and then have you can initial the second column once you’ve checked their work. I highly recommend having a system to check work! Even your older, upstanding, honest, self-motivated students need a good accountability system as they develop a work ethic.
That’s it! The structure of these journals is pretty simple, but it’s been working well for us for six years. I hope these are a blessing in your home.
How We Print and Bind Our Journals
I printed our journal pages back-to-back on 65-pound cardstock. This is my favorite: Neenah Premium Cardstock, 96 Brightness, 65 lb, Letter, Bright White, 250 Sheets per Pack (91904). This allows for color printing and writing in pen on both sides without significant bleed-through and makes the journals sturdy and portable. I always print on the “best” setting because the fine art looks so much prettier that way. You can either store the pages in a 3-ring binder, or you can take them to FedEx or somewhere similar to have them spiral-bound as I did. If you do that, you may want to print the coming journals this week and next and have them bound together. The download link is right at the bottom of this post.
Thinking Kids Subscriber Freebies
When you register to become a Thinking Kids subscriber, you are automatically included on the email newsletter list. You’ll get updates on godly parenting resources, homeschool ideas, Christian parenting posts, and you’ll have access to the growing list of Thinking Kids freebies including:
- Bible Road Trip ~ a 3 year Bible survey curriculum for preschool to high school with coordinating Notebooking Journals! Bible Road Trip is free for download by week, or available for purchase as a full-year PDF download.
- My Sermon Notebooking Journals ~ Two half-sized 119-page notebooking journals to take notes during sermons with a structured format, Bible verses, quotes from historical Christians and fine artwork.
- Two My Trips Notebooking Journals – Two half-sized 65-page notebooking field trip / vacation notebooking journals with quotes from historical Christians, charming travel murals, and space for scrapbooked souvenirs for grades 3-9.
- My Timeline Notebooking Journal ~ A 132-page timeline journal dated from 4000 BC to 2050 AD. You’ll find 29 full-color paintings from artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, and Renoir, ESV Bible quotations about time, seasons, and plans, and quotes from historic Christians such as Charles Spurgeon, Samuel Rutherford, and Hannah More.
- Fruit of the Spirit Scripture Memory Booklets ~ Don’t miss any of the monthly 2015 Scripture Memory booklets on the Fruit of the Spirit!
My Teacher Planning Journal with Subjects
My Teacher Planning Journal Blank
My Student Planning Journal Raven
My Student Planning Journal Librarian
Join the newsletter
Get the Family Prayer Box Project FREE!
Teach your children to pray with this fun project that includes 7 printable sets!
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.