Organizing Homeschool Lessons

When we first started homeschooling, we used Classical Conversations as a spine and then built out from the weekly memory work.  CC can be really great- but it is very dependent on your community’s director. We moved campuses when I was sick the first time, and the director was so awful to my family that I left and came home crying several times.  I refused to quit because I wasn’t going to let her think she could treat people that way, but we did stop after that year because we weren’t going to be able to transfer back to our former (amazing) campus.  So, if you’re using CC, definitely ask around before you commit to a campus- some of them are better than others!

Moving away from CC meant that I had a lot more freedom in what to choose, and also a lot more organization to do.  I also learned that my “figure it out on Sunday” model was not effective if something was wrong with me. (See: Brain Cancer and my mom having to take over) Then I switched to taking a few weeks in the summer to plan out the whole school year.  That works well for me, and I like having my schedule computerized (some people use a day planner/lesson planner) because if we all get the flu one week or something I can just bump the dates without having to erase 🙂

You can read some of our past curriculum choices here.

What this ends up looking like is two things.  First, an excel spreadsheet:

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And then a Word document mail merge:

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Hooray for Technology!

This allows me to have my whole year planned out as soon as I have information.  You’ll see, for example, that biology isn’t filled in for my son because he takes that class at CHESS and I don’t have the syllabus from his instructor yet. Similarly, I don’t know what his electives will have in terms of homework for Capital Baptist Co-op because we haven’t been given the course registration yet. He’s taking English there, but I wrote the class, so I had it all to fill in.

The great part about this method is that while it’s a lot of work up-front, I don’t really have to think about it again.  I only print the week we’re on in terms of the mail merge (in case something changes) and I schedule in “review” or “no homework” days throughout the year so that if we want to go away for a long weekend or attend a field trip I don’t know about in July, then we can and I just shift the lessons into those spaces.

The other great part about this is I know exactly when everyone is done with each subject.  This is important especially for subscription-based services.  We’re trying online Arabic this year (our tutor moved and Rosetta Stone wasn’t a good fit for us), and it’s a 9 month subscription, so I have it starting in September and ending in May, hard deadline.  I know that Riley has his Geometry final exam on April 30th, which gives us 3 weeks to review for his standardized testing. I know that with the exception of Driver’s Ed, he’ll be completely finished by June 12th.  My middle son, on the other hand, won’t be done until June 21st because his history curriculum is so hard and book-heavy, which is fine, but I know not to schedule any camps for him in early summer.  Helps me plan 🙂

If you homeschool (or teach!) how do you organize your lessons?