When I was in college, I became addicted to planners. I was obsessed with planning out my entire year before the semester even began. There were color gel pens–a different color for each class–and stickers for dentist appointment, exams, and opening nights. The planner always had a leather cover and a beautiful clasp. I spent hours pouring over it as soon as I knew my fall schedule, and come that first day of class, it was absolute perfection.
When I started homeschooling, I tried to apply this same aesthetic to my homeschool planning. I bought eight (yes, eight) different planners in my first six months, trying to make them work. By this time, I had discovered Plum Paper Designs, and while I have yet to find another planner I loved as much as theirs for my work, it didn’t work for homeschool. I tried teacher’s planners. I tried Erin Condren. I tried bullet journaling–the closest I came to satisfaction–but still it fell short. Finally, after nearly twelve months of homeschooling, it dawned on me.
Planners do not work for my style of homeschooling.
In every other aspect of my life, I am (for lack of a kinder description) a control freak. I run a fairly complicated business from home that requires incredible organization, planning, and months-ahead foresight. I set goals. I break them down, month by month and week by week. I feel uncomfortable about crossing things out, and I hate writing with pencils. But when it comes to homeschool, these rules do not apply, because learning is a living, breathing, shifting entity with a mind of its own and I have no desire to harness it.
Planners did not work because our days together have their own ideas about what’s going to transpire. I might wake up with the intention of doing a particular science project, or a certain reading lesson, but my oldest discovers a snail on the trail during our morning walk and suddenly lights up with questions. What do snails eat? What happens to them in winter? What does it look like inside its shell? I cannot, and truthfully will not, snuff that flame to correct course and get on with the planned lesson of that day when she is primed to learn by the purest form of education there is–curiosity. Nothing I had planned will compete with the power of her curiosity, and the things she will learn that day if we follow that trail. Besides, those things I’d planned will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and we can always pick them back up then.
“…learning is a living, breathing, shifting entity with a mind of its own and I have no desire to harness it.”
That’s why I changed my thinking about planning out each homeschool week. I no longer write “Tuesday–science then reading lesson 2, and wrapping up with math activity 8.” I got tired of scratching it out (which is like nails on a chalkboard to me) whenever my kids got inspired to find out what makes rocks red or learn about plate tectonics after driving through a cut-away into Morrison.
So, here is my (completely un-pinterest-worthy) way of planning our homeschool week:
- In a basic, boring, 53 cent composition notebook from Walmart, I draw a line down the center of the page, ending about halfway down the page.
- On one side, I write my youngest daughter’s name. On the other side, I write my oldest daughter’s name. In that bottom section, I write “together.”
- I list out the things I hope to accomplish that week, with the highest priority items at the top. For a little flair of fancy, I draw a bubble so I can make a little check-mark with a sigh of satisfaction when we get something done.
- During the week, I make sure we make some sense of progress through our list. I don’t stress if things aren’t finished, I just move them to next week’s list when I make it. Whenever some spark of inspiration hits, I write what we did at the bottom of the page, so I can document our adventures in learning together.
That’s it. A list scrawled onto basic lined paper in a notebook. It’s not pretty, it’s done on Sunday night before each new week begins, and it makes creating a beautiful pin for this post really hard. But it works. It works for us. I’ve never been so satisfied in my life with a planning system. I still drool over bullet journal posts on Instagram, and I still rely on my Plum Paper planner to run my business, but when it comes to homeschool, simplicity is the name of the game.
What is your system for planning the week ahead? Please feel free to share in the comments! 🙂
Curious about our homeschool curriculum for the year? You can read about them here:
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