Not Back to School Series: The Scheduling and Organization!

WOW it is almost that time again! The time of year that many children dread but parents look forward to… BACK TO SCHOOL!! Now I know, I know it is still over a month away (closer for some, farther for others!) But it is something that we are being forced to put on our radar. It seems that everywhere you turn back-to-school is being mentioned. There are commercials advertising the latest back to school clothes and supplies. I went to Wal-mart this week to do my grocery shopping and they had the lists posted and supplies ready to purchase. In fact I was getting some supplies for VBS and the cashier asked if I was back-to-school shopping! So I thought I would join in on the bombarding by trying to make things a little easier on you this year. What follows are ideas and traditions we have or will use here at the Hoggatt Homeschool!

Why the title “Getting Ready For Not Back To School Day”? Every year we kick the year off with a party (ideas to come in Part 4) celebrating the fact that we don’t actually “go” to school! We call it our not back to school day! We celebrate usually on their friends 1st day back at school. It is also our 1st day back only we don’t do official lessons! We play outside in the sprinkler, have a party, and more!!!!

I have decided to break this post into 4 individual posts due to the fact that it has grown enormously as it is spilling from my brain. Here are the 4 sections I will cover: 
Part 1: The Scheduling and Organization! (This Post)
Part 4: The Big Day!

First off, remember that one of the perks to homeschooling is you can do your own thing! It is not a cookie cutter formula where every family has to do the same style or structure. What works for our family may not work for yours. That is the beauty of it! I am one that tends to gear toward a more traditional style day while still allowing free learning play. I have a friend that does not and her children are just as educated (if not more) then my own. It doesn’t matter!!!! What suits you suits you!
So Scheduling!!!!!!!
Start by picking out your curriculum. There are so many out there. Research and read through the “Scope and Practice” to find something that challenges your children but isn’t to difficult so they won’t get discouraged if they are not ready. 
Lots of homeschoolers go to conventions where the vendors have sample to look at. We have not been able to do that yet, but, I have found that if you contact the company they will send you some sample sheets. this is important so that you and your child can get a feel for how they look, work and the level of difficulty. It is important to get your children involved in picking it out so that they are just as excited about it as you are.
Don’t be afraid to switch it up if something isn’t working. However, I always try to complete that year first, trying to adapt and re-group. Just because it isn’t working for now doesn’t mean that it won’t click with your child and they go full speed ahead.
Now that you have what you want to do, lets talk about planning how you are going to do it! (also know as record keeping) This is when I pick up my planner start writing/typing. Start by scheduling out vacations and break. Check how many days/hours that are required for your state and what holidays or other celebrations you don’t want to have school on or around. Pencil in any field trip dates that need to be set times due to fixed festival dates etc… I try to stay to week long blocks if at all possible!
This is also a good time to decide if you are going to school year-round or not. We do a mix. We get our required days/hours usually in a typical school year but do less structured “review” through the summer. We tend to let our lessons come to us like we did this week when we captured a caterpillar in our herb garden and are now holding it hostage to see the transformation.
After I decide when we are schooling I assign each day a lesson number that corresponds to a lesson in our curriculum. This is when I decide fill in units also. The curriculum that we have moved to this year does not offer a separate Bible or science even though it is mingled throughout. So I have set up individual unit studies to fill in the gaps I want to cover. This is where I find Pintrest incredibly useful. I set up a separate board for each unit and “pin” the ideas i find there. You could also use individual file folders on your computer. 
Here is a sneak peak at my 2012-2013 planning!
I have used many planners to try and schedule everything out. Here are two of my favorites!
Weekly Homeschool Planner – from Homeschool Creations (downloadable in a pdf)
Another favorite and FREE record keeping program I use is my grade book. I use the GradeBook+ and you can download it here! It uses Excel. 
Now I move to the Organization Phase!!!
Through much trial and error I have found that this system works the best for us. Again it may not for you and your style of teaching/learning. 
I start by tearing up the student books! Yes literally!!! I cut out every page so that I can break them down by lesson numbers and not have the kids trying to dig through every workbook trying to find the right page. I then staple each child’s papers together by the assigned lesson number and place them together in a corresponding folder. (remember each lesson # = 1 school day)
I then group lesson # by weeks. For example lesson # 1-5 in the same hanging folder representing week 1 of school etc… Continue this step until you have your entire year lined out!
Yes that is our entire 2012-13 year!
Next I transfer the hanging folders a month at a time to our “school room” and place them in a smaller file folder box.
Each week I fill the child’s weekly notebook with the lessons. This is my version of the “work box” system. The weekly notebook is a simple three ring binder containing 5 separate pocket folders labeled Monday – Friday. They also contain individual writing paper, math games, bible verse charts, etc… This helps the children be more independent about their school work. Each school day they grab their notebook and can easily find their assignments for the day. As they get older you could also include daily task sheets for them to check off to aid in independent work. My general rule is that I don’t care when or in what order the assignments get done as long as at the end of the day they are complete! 
Here is an example of last year’s!
I also give the children individual school bins that contain any larger projects they are working on as well as supplies. 

Classroom Organization…

I tend to keep my classroom very traditional. I have it set up in “stations”. (art, music, media, science, math, reading, etc…) In order to do this we have converted the dining room into a school room! I know many of you don’t have the space or want to sacrifice an entire room (mine didn’t start that way it was originally only a corner! haha). The important part is to allow your children to be self sufficient in finding the needed materials or activities! Let them explore and have fun doing it. Remember if they can find it they won’t do it! There are many tips about home classroom organization at Living Montessori Now.

9 thoughts on “Not Back to School Series: The Scheduling and Organization!

  1. Great ideas for homeschooling! My daughter devoted her entire livingroom to learning centers for her daughter…no couch, but lots of great learning. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

    • Thanks for stopping by! I just think that it is fun to let the kids explore and learn without everything being “directed”. They need to learn independence and develop their personalities. Don’t get me wrong we also have much structure. But I feel as parents it is our job to work ourselves out of a job! haha

  2. I love the organization! I just spent some very long Saturdays getting our school room organized. We have our table in the kitchen and use the (former) formal dining room as our school area too. I’m blessed to have a dedicated space!

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