Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Begin Homeschooling, Part 4, Lesson Planning (Texts)

Lesson Planning (texts)

When I first began lesson planning this was one of the places that completely terrified me. I am not the most organized person in the world and somehow the thought that I had to plan out the whole year all at once had gotten into my head. I was freaked out.

So, I followed a good friend's advice and took a deep breath. (Which is why I'm always saying to breath.) I had to break this down into something I could manage. I had to figure out how I could get everything I wanted to get done finished in the amount of time I wanted to do it in. 

My first step was to decide how long each year I wanted to homeschool. Was I going to follow the traditional public school year? Was I going to do a few weeks on and a few weeks off? Did we want to school year round? Take a month off for December? My answer?? Well, I don't like weeks on end of review so we decided to homeschool year round. We take two weeks off usually at Christmas from the text books and loosen up a lot during the summer, but we do school year round.

This gives me roughly 50 weeks to work with when working with the text books. However, because I don't want to use them hard core during the summer, I drop that down to about 45. I use this number when deciding how many pages per week my children should be doing out of the text books so that we can finish each text. So, if you take my son's Arithmetic book from last year and look at the number of pages it contains before the review section (300) and divide that by the magic number I came up with of 45 you come up with 6 pages of Arithmetic per week. Not every page in this book has math problems to solve and we work on our school work five to six days a week so this is relatively easy to do. 

Now, I always do Arithmetic and Language Arts five days a week as these subjects are very important to me. So, when I make my weekly lesson plans (I do this on Sunday evening after the children go to bed) I take the children's books out and look at the 6 pages that they should get done that week. If the problems look fairly easy then I assign all of the problems, if he knows most of the work I assign every other problem to keep it in review, and if it's a really difficult or long page then I'll assign half for one day and half for another day ... combining two easier pages together for a third day. Yes, it takes a little while to do. It takes me about half an hour total for the Cracker Jack's each week and I try to be about two or three weeks in advance right now for Peanut.

As I stated above we do Arithmetic and Language Arts five days a week. Science and History we do twice a week each. Science is on Monday and Wednesday and History on Tuesday and Thursday, currently these are more relaxed as we don't start with our texts for either of them until October. We'll be adding Health in November and we'll do that on Friday. 

I figure that our by looking at their books first (we may not do all of the History or Science books) and figure out what we may not do. I subtract those chapters from the number of pages of the book (thank God for tables of contents) and then divide by how many weeks "left". So for Science and History it's 41 weeks and for Health it's 37 weeks. This all gives me the total number of pages we "should" do each week and then I split that number over two or three days (we can do extra on Friday's or Saturday). 

Art is also on Friday. Our family is religious and so I do some religious instruction at home five days a week, but the Cracker Jack's have catechism class at the church on Tuesday evenings. And this year we're adding swimming to the agenda this fall which will occur on Monday and Wednesday evenings. I know it's a lot of math but it's really not so bad, and I only do it before the start of each "new" school year. 

I use the same method to divide up sections of their workbooks. It's not terribly complicated but it's effective. Just remember that if you end up spending twice as long as you allotted for long division, that's OK! Just adjust what your doing the next week (this is why I only do lesson plans for the Cracker Jack's a week at a time).

Part 5 of this series will be about scheduling your day and part 6 will be about making a lesson plan using unit studies. They'll both be out later this week. If you have any ideas about more helpful posts on how to begin homeschooling I'll continue the series.

***all clip art used here was found on free online clip art sites***

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