For today’s 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials posts I am talking about one thing I feel is absolutely necessary to make my homeschool run smoothly: planners! I am a planner at heart. I love making to-do lists and keeping a calendar. As a teacher, one of my favorite things was planning out my lessons for the week. For me, planners serve multiple purposes. For starters, I juggle a lot of stuff. Homeschooling, blogging, appointments, church activities, homeschool groups, dinners, shopping, house stuff etc. If I didn’t have a way to keep track of it all, I would go crazy!
In the past, I have used many planners for my kids, most of them printable. While I love the flexibility of these types of planners, printer ink is expensive. Since I print out a lot of our school work, I decided to look for a hard copy planner this year instead. I knew what I wanted in a planner, space to write down weekly lesson plans, grades, and other information. After spending a lot of time online I settled on the Homeschooler’s High School Journal for both of my kids (even though my youngest is only in 7th grade).
The Homeschooler’s High School Journal
What do I love about this planner? For starters, the price! (Less than $10 is always good for me). And I love the way they are set up. There are pages to record grades and attendance:
As well as ample space for recording lesson plans and notes:
A whole week on two pages!
In addition, it has pages to keep track of resources used, field trips, and credits. This makes it really easy for me to sit down on a Sunday evening and write out our plans for the next week. Why do I need a planner? Well, for me, I think it’s just how my brain works. I need to SEE our plan for the week to get a feel for where we are headed. I like the fact that my kids can grab their planners and get started on their work while I clean up breakfast. My husband likes the fact that if he has to fill in for me, he can look at the planners to know what the boys are supposed to be doing. I know a lot of people do not use written lesson plans in their homeschool, and that’s great if they can work that way. But I just can’t. Having these plans laid out gives me confidence that everyone knows what they need to do. I tried doing workboxes, but that just didn’t work for me! At any rate, I always plan in pencil so I can easily change things when needed. Each week, I sit down and make notes about things that didn’t get done, because of other things that came up, and I move them to the next week. Easy-peasy!
Now, for my own day to day planning and record keeping, I use the printable planner from The Old Schoolhouse magazine. This thing is loaded with more pages than you could possible imagine! I love that I can print out exactly what I need and customize my own planner in a binder. I use the calendar pages to keep track of appointments and schedules each month, and the week-at-a-glance pages for menu planning and staying on top of important weekly tasks.
When I need to add something to my planner, I just pencil it in.
My color-coded calendar
Because I am (otherwise) disorganized and all-over-the place when it comes to tasks, having a planner keeps me on point and makes sure I don’t forget anything important.
Finally, this year, I decided to start using a blog planner. Between crew reviews, blog hops, link-ups, and carnivals, I can get distracted. I tried writing all of these things on my regular calendar, but it got to cluttered and things were still getting lost in the mix. So, in my binder, I created a separate tab for my blog. Here, I keep track of posts that need to be written, as well as a running list of posts that are scheduled.
My blog planner.
Using pages from a planner from My Joy Filled Life I print out what I need and keep track of everything I need to do. I try to write down my regular monthly link-ups and posts first, then fill in reviews, guest posts, and other posts as they come up. That way, when life gets crazy, I can refer to my plans to make sure I am not missing anything.
So, I know this may seem a little crazy to some people (LOL) but honestly, planning doesn’t take me that long. Planning our school week takes me about an hour on the weekends, and doing my personal calendar and blog calendars takes about 20 minutes at the start of the month, and then 5-10 minutes a week as I add in new activities, posts, and events.
I couldn’t survive without my planners and that is why they are one of my homeschool essentials. Do you plan out your weeks/months? What planner do you like to use? Let me know in the comments. Join me tomorrow for day four of our blog hop when I talk about one of our essentials for homeschool fun! Check out what other crew members had to share today here:
Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace