Along with keeping a yearly plan for homeschooling it is also important to keep a daily schedule of what you are doing in your homeschool. This can be broken down by subject matter, by the hour, or by the day. The important part is that you keep a good record of what you are doing. Think of it as a journal for homeschooling.
If you have older kids (4th grade and up) make them write their own daily schedule. We take time every Sunday evening sit together as a family and plan out the week. Who is doing what on what days, what chores are happening, what other classes, field trips, or appointments are happening they write all these things down. You are not doing your kids a favor by writing their daily schedule for them when they are old enough to do it themselves. We want to equip and teach our children to keep a schedule and a to do list for themselves. This is a great life skill you are giving them - so don't sell them short by writing out the plan for them.
Facebook is also a great way to keep track of your homeschool journey. Many a mom I know will post homeschooling day #87 take a few photos and list what they did on that day. This is another great option you can do in addition to a paper or computer daily plan!
Here is a very simple daily schedule you could use
Here is a weekly lesson plan you could use too
There are plenty of free online versions you can find as well!
Oh lesson planning a homeschool mom can get lost in the lesson planning. Here is my advice - DO NOT PLAN MORE THAN A MONTH AT A TIME!!!! (especially if this is your first year!)
It's so easy to plan out the year and then feel so very discouraged when 3 weeks into the year you are behind and every days lesson plan reminds you of how behind you are! Don't do this to yourself. I recommend a very general yearly plan. For example, if there are 120 lessons in math and you plan to school for 9 months than the goal should be about 13 lessons a month. Each month check to see if you are making this goal and adjust as needed.
I plan a month at a time and this includes making a list of all necessary books, arts supplies, baking supplies, and whatever else I might need in the month. I also check up on the goals for each subject and if I'm making the progress I was hoping for.
Then every Sunday evening I spend about 30 minutes planning out the week and making sure I know what's coming at me for the week!
There are a million different ways you can lesson plan and I'm not about to list them all here! Etsy has tons of printable with these pages, there are free pages, digital pages, computer programs that will do the planning for you, or paper planners like The Well Planned Gal that you can check out as well. Find the lesson plan book that makes the most sense to your brain. The important part is simply to keep your lesson plans. Don't write your plans on a white board then you have no record of what you are accomplishing in school.
Lesson plans are one of the areas that is a to each his own. Different personality types need different types of lesson plans. Some only write in pencil, some like a different color pen for each subject matter, some are very creative and make their own beautiful bullet journal lesson plans. Do what works best for you and don't be afraid to scrap something that isn't working and start over with a new plan if you hate what you are using (it'll make the year much better!)
At some point I'll probably write a few blog posts on what specifically I use but for now these are the general ideas on lesson planning!
Before we start talking about the nitty gritty of how to homeschool we must start with THE WHY. Just as scripture is clear that a foundation not built on the Rock is shaky a homeschool foundation not built on the Rock is also shaky.
I want to start by making sure we are all on the same page with two statement:
1. Education is NEVER neutral
There is always an agenda behind everything taught. Furthermore the Bible is clear that you are either for Christ or against Him. There is no middle ground here and the same is true with the education of your children. Martin Luther said "I am much afraid that schools will prove the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt." We must realize that the education of our children is to be guarded carefully. Be wise and seek Godly advice on what to teach, which curriculums to use, and what voices you allow in your home.
2. Education is ALWAYS discipleship
Whomever you allow to educate your children has the power to disciple your children. In the case of homeschooling this puts a large weight on our shoulders. However, the Lord has already put this weight on our shoulders. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
As parents we are to be teaching our children about the Lord when we sit at home, when we are out, when we lie down and when we get up. That pretty much covers ALL day. As homeschool families we are given the unique opportunity to have our children with us all the time. This means we can follow this scripture and surround our children daily in The Word. Teaching science - God is the Author and Creator of life. Science points to Christ. Teaching history - The Lord has numbered our days and allowed all of history to happen. His finger print is all over history. History points to Christ. Teaching math. God is a God of order and logic. Math points to Christ. All subject either point to Christ or away from Christ and we need to take up the charge of this passage in Deuteronomy and be sure that in all ways in all our days with our children we are pointing our family back to our Savior.
So back to the question at hand what is your families "why" I challenge all Christian families that THE WHY of homeschooling should not be academic excellence (though there is nothing wrong with an academic education) If at the end of high school our children know more about American History, Chemistry, or Algebra 2 than they know the Word of God then we have failed. If our children's education is not founded on faith, discipling our children daily in the foundation of the Word of God than what is the point in bringing them home. We need to recognize that we are not just homeschooling our children for an education but, we are homeschooling our children with their future in mind. Our number one goal as parents should be to raise children who love the Lord God with all their hearts minds and souls and this should be no different when homeschooling. Yes, the methods in which we do this can vary from family to family however, the foundation should be the same. What a beautiful thing to be in a community of God fearing families whose number one objective as homeschool families is to grow their children into passionate followers of Christ!
This is our Why and without it your homeschool will crumble. There will come hard days in homeschooling and when they come you need to have the truth of why you are homeschooling to fall back on. A school day may go horribly wrong (and they do sometimes) but if you have pointed your children to Christ, taken time to read and discuss scripture together, and been an example of what a follower of Christ looks like than your day is NEVER waisted!
A few other verses for you to ponder as you consider THE WHY for your family and the Lords instruction to parents on teaching our children His Word:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old--
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors--
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
I know what you are thinking, record keeping sounds intimidating! It can be intimidating, but it is actually very simple so lets break this down into simple and easy terms!
Each state has its own laws on what records need to be saved. Check with the state you live in on which specific records you should be keeping. HSLDA is a great resource to look at for your state laws.
Below you you will find a simple list of the basic records that most states require you to keep or just simple records that are a good idea to keep on file.
A set of records should be kept on each child and should include:
Other recommend records
In the past there were not a lot of options available for homeschool parents, however, as homeschooling has gained momentum the resources for homeschool families has soared! There are many different methods of homeschooling available to families to chose from. I encourage you to dig into the different styles of homeschooling and see which ones appeal to you. Finding a style you like will help you in looking at different curriculum options.
You will find that curriculums usually fall into one of the following categories:
1. Online homeschooling: Classes are all taught online (some in a live classroom and others that are prerecorded) A few examples of this would be: Alpha Omega Publications (AOP), Veritas, or Memoria Press. Some families use these classes exclusively while others pick and chose a class or two for their students to do online while the majority of the teaching is done at home. Online classes are an excellent way to handle courses you don't feel confident in teaching yourself or for classes like foreign language!
2. Unit Studies: is a form of learning where your family will learn about a topic of interest and study it from many different angles. For example taking one time period of history and learn about the history that surrounds that time, what scientific discoveries happened around that time period, artists and composers from that time period, literature written during the time period and really the sky is the limit on how far you dig into the interstate's of study. A few examples of this style of teaching would be Five in a Row, Notgrass History, or Tapestry of Grace
3. Classical: is a form of learning based around the 3 stages of learning - grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In these 3 stages of learning the focus is on the child's cognitive learning development at that stage. Memorization of facts, critical thinking, debate, and studying the greats of the past are just a few things you will find in classical curriculums. A few examples of classical curriculums are Classical Academic Press and Memoria Press.
4. Charlotte Mason: Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the early 1800's. She created her own style of schooling. The Charlotte Mason way includes learning through living books rather than text books, nature study, character habits, studying fine ares in composers, poets, and artists. A few examples of classical curriculums are Simply Charlotte Mason and Sabbath Mood Homeschool.
5. Traditional: is a way of homeschooling at home that uses mostly text books or workbooks and is similar to an education you would be given in a private Christian school. A few examples of these types of curriculums would be Bob Jones, Abeka, and, Accelerated Christian Education.
These are just a few options to get you started. Make sure you take a look at the Resources page too. Here we share all our experiences with curriculums we have used and love!