Monday, July 28, 2014

Planning the year: a system that works even if you have 102 children

Keeping things organized when you have one child can be hard at times. Finding a system that works and is simple for keeping plans for multiple children from being stacks of " I know I put that somewhere" and shelves of "put it there, we'll figure out what to do with it later" chaos is mind numbing to the point that you spend hours upon hours upons hours (did I mention the hours?) of scrolling through blogs and Pinterest checking out what others do and how it works for them. I am here to save you the time you do not have. I mean really, go take a shower instead...seriously. Bookmark this page so that when your two year old unplugs the internet modem and your computer you will be able to find this blog again.

I'll wait.

Hum dee dum dum dum....

Okay saved? Go refresh yourself.

Didn't that feel good? Now get a piece of about that one right over there that your five your old drew what looks like a purple duck but is really a "pretty magical pony that flies and is a ballerina princess". You can write on the back or in between scribbles. Just be ready to take notes.

Remember, this is a system that works FOR ME. If there is something that doesn't work for you skip it, tweak it, spit on it, it doesn't matter to me. (well, maybe not that last one, spit is gross) just make it YOUR system not mine.

Here we go.

Remember in my customized planner post how I only put a month worth of lessons in my planner at a time? No? Well, go look at that later in my post about planners.
Anyhoo, this is all about where the REST of the plans go.

It starts with a box. Preferably one with a lid and the capability of holding hanging file folders,and one that is liquid and smash resistent - for those times when your four year old (holding a cup of hot chocolate that isn't suppose to leave the table, let alone be near the computer)is using it to stand on and see over your eight year olds shoulder while he plays on the computer and then is RUDELY bumped by the two year old that tries to climb up because she wants to see too!- no joking. It. Will. Happen. Don't go for cardboard. Go for plastic with a secure lid- like this one:
It's safe to say that if you really have 102 children,
 you will need several more boxes!

Then you need 36 hanging file folders- or the equivelant number of weeks you normally have school in your academic year, and regular file folders to go inside.

Here is where your preferences come in.
You need a file folder in each week for each category/child that you plan for. For example:

Last year I filed by levels. Upper Grammar, Lower Grammar, Dialectic, Preschool and everyones's planning sheets went into our homeschool binder. I had one student in each level, except for upper grammar, there were two towards the end of the year. (To keep items separate that needed it I just paper clipped them together).

Are you thoroughly confused now? Keep reading it should begin to make sense.

This year it is by student, and I have one as well.  I reused the same folders from last year but added as necessary.
So in each of my hanging folders are six regular  file folders. I have my tabs color coded with labels, but you could write names if you wish. If you are at a stage like I was once and you teach all your kids the same things or use unit studies, you could just have a folder for each subject. Whatever works for YOU. However you would like to organize the various printouts, worksheets and other papers in your lessons.
In this close-up you can see some white tabs with numbers-those are the weekly hanging file folders,
and the regular file folders with colored labels.

Once that is all put together this is how it works:

Print out your planning pages for the year. Put one (if you plan weekly) in each weeks correct folder- either yours or students if they have their own or both, whatever system of planning you are using. I am trying out daily planning sheets with a week at a glance sheet for me this year. You can learn more about what I used in my other post linked above.

The next step takes the longest. Assuming you have your curriculum and know what lesson you are going to use, begin printing, creating, tearing out of workbooks, copying all of the pages that will be used each week and place them in the appropriate week in the category or child's folder that it belongs with. You do not have to do this for the whole year! But getting the first couple of months done is sooo helpful, as long as you set aside time to do it again to keep yourself ahead of schedule.
For example:
A child is studying the Oregon trail and pioneers. They will be filling in maps and making a lap book. Print the maps, and lap book pieces then divide into the weeks they will be studied and put the lesson packets in the child's folder for each week needed. If there are tests or quizzes, put those in the week they are needed. If you know of a game, project, or recipe that will work well with a lesson jot it down on a sicky note and stick it to one of the pages you file so that when it is time to fill out your lesson plans you will remember. (Can I just say that I love sticky notes!)

Keep it simple. Work on one child at a time one subject at a time. Once you get in rhythm it will go quickly. And just keep reminding yourself that all the effort you are putting in now is giving you more time to cuddle up and listen to your six year old read aloud this winter with a cup of hot cocoa, (it's okay because you got the plastic box! right?) instead of trying to gather all the materials needed
for lessons tomorrow or next week.

Once that is all worked out and you've had your last lazy days by the lake getting burnt to a crisp because you put sunscreen on all 29 of your kids but failed to remember yourself, and it is time to gear up for your first week back to routine and educational bliss you will do the following.

Get out your glammed up planner that was made especially for YOU.

Open it flat on your desk,floor, table,bed, roof....wherever you plan best. There is one mom that I know of that loaded up all her lessons planning materials every saturday morning and she headed off to the library for time alone to plan while hubby stayed home with kids being task master of saturday cleaning chores. That amazes me. It sound so T.V. perfect family that while I day dreamed about it for a fraction of second-it is something that would just never work for us. Maybe it will for you!

Get your file box- should we name it? I feel like I should. It serves me so well. Almost better than having a personal assistant. I think I'll call mine....PABLO (Personal Assistant Box of Lesson Organization). Wow, I am impressed with my brain power, I just pulled that right up. Proof that I do have some brain cells left.
I got a little excited with this and put the name on the box lid
with scrapbook letters and contact paper!

Okay get PABLO , but don't strain your back, you don't want to start off the year teaching from the couch, (although it's comfy and that is probably where I will be because pregnancy #7 is rough on a lady). I much prefer utilizing the still nice weather and sprawling out with our books on the trampoline or in the TeePee. There I go again keeping you from getting your planning done by rambling away about my day to day life-sorry.

Open the lid to PABLO

Pick what or who you will always start with. I start with my planning page, then my oldest child I need to plan for. Take out the lesson packet for the first week. Look through it, remind yourself what the lesson was, if it is coming from a book or other planned out resource, have that next to you so you can scan directions, materials, books etc. Then fill on your lesson plan page accordingly. Such as: Monday: read 2 chapters of Little House on the Praire, math lesson 1. Spelling list A,Begin lap book by glueing folders
Tuesday: read 2 chapter LH ( I usually abbreviate everything in my plans). M2, Sp- write in sentences, LB cut pieces for ch 1&2

And so on and so forth. I am hoping you have filled out a lesson plan before, but if not the New bee homeschooler has great illustrations to help you along.

Just keep plugging in the plans for each child and subject for that week. Stick the packet of materials in the front pocket of the divider to await lesson day. (My planner has dividers with pockets that divide the 4 weeks I am planning.)

Do the same thing for the next week(s).

Tah dah! A month of lessons ready to go. Open, grab and teach!

When one week is done pull it out. Archive it. (this is a tabbed section in my notebook right behind the weeks. Again it is referenced in my post on planners) Move the other weeks forward and add a new week to the back.

Work on the planning the new week ( which should be three weeks ahead of you) on the day you deem good for planning, like on saturday morning while you hubby takes charge of the household--it could happen, it has been done (just not by me)! This is so great because you have the perfect amount of time to reserve the library books you want and pick them up while taking your twelve year old to soccer. And also make the list of needed items for the science project so you can buy them at Walmart when you run out of bread. Everything will be there ready to go when that week reaches the front. Isn't it wonderful?

But don't give me credit for it. I pieced this together from all the treasure of ideas I have gleaned from my hours upon hours upon hours of sitting at the computer until the chair was molded to backside and my eyes resembled a zombie like stare. I tried to give credit to those that I know for certain authored the advice or product, but there are many more that are only a picture in my mind of something I saw or read about once. If you recognize any of these ideas as your own--Thank You, for sharing, I wish I could give you the credit you deserve!

Happy Planning!

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