Captain Obvious’s Homeschooling Tips

2013-08-10 22.54.24

I’m trying something bold and innovative in our fourth year of homeschooling:


No, seriously. I haven’t so much done that before. We school year-round, so there’s no pressure to “finish the school year” at a certain point and thus no real reason to divide up and schedule our work. I’ve organized individual subjects – planned out which lessons to do for each Five in a Row book, made (and, uh, largely ignored) lists of projects and supplemental reading for Story of the World. But mostly I’ve been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants homeschooler, and every day we’ve gotten up and Done The Next Thing.

The problem was that we kept missing stuff. We didn’t wind up doing that many projects or experiments because I wouldn’t have planned them out in advance, and subjects like science and history kept getting pushed off because I wouldn’t have the materials I needed together. And when I was tired or distracted, it was easy for me to lose the flow and just let the kids go off and play. All the extras I kept wanting to add in, like art and poetry teas? Forget it.

So I mapped out a schedule. I distributed Alex’s subjects more evenly and and arranged them so she’d get one weekday off in everything but math. I put in spaces for Colin, for cleaning, and for myself. This past week, I tried it for the first time. On Sunday, I filled in all the boxes with specific plans for the upcoming week.

I was amazed at how much more smoothly our school week went. Amazed! Nothing got skipped (except, uh, most of the cleaning), and most days we finished by lunch. I knew in advance what science experiments were coming up, and was ready to do them. I had a much firmer grasp on exactly what each day would contain, which made me feel more free to let Alex choose the order of her subjects.

Lots of things got scribbled out, moved around, amended, or checked off out of sequence. Five in a Row happened in a completely different order than I’d planned. But I never felt off-balance. I didn’t feel bound to the schedule, just supported by it.

I’ve already got my chart finished for next week. Captain Obvious thinks she might be on to something here.

2013-08-10 22.54.44

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7 Responses to Captain Obvious’s Homeschooling Tips

  1. Kyndra says:

    Smiling here as I work on our schedule for next week! I think you captured the important thing- the plan is a guideline for the sake of your sanity, not a drill sergeant that runs the show! Have a good week…K

  2. Steph says:

    This whole post=me too! Started year 4 of this homeschool thing in June. Made A Schedule for first time ever. Weekly plan, looks a lot like yours. It’s working so gosh darn well that I have a bruise from kicking myself for not having done it sooner.
    Co-Captain Obvious

  3. Farrar says:

    Nope. I’m clinging to my non-planning. :) Never in all my years of teaching and homeschooling have I been able to stick to a planning system. It’s great… for a few weeks. I do better when I wing it and have stopping points to check that we’re doing what we need to do. But coordinating FIAR and all of Alex’s stuff is a lot more to juggle so I hope you’re able to keep making it work.

  4. tinderbox says:

    Farrar, notice that I don’t have anything planned more than a week out. ;-) I can’t imagine how people put together something like this for their WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR.

  5. Ian Osmond says:

    Lis does something similar with vacations: plan everything out, then, when you get to the actual time, throw out the plan if you feel like it and have a better idea. The plan is a jumping-off point for her — it’s a framework and a direction, but not a straitjacket.

  6. Sara says:

    LOL! yes – planning seems so obvious, and yet it’s so easy to not end up doing it.

  7. Anne Gregor says:

    May I just add, always keep your schedule flexible. There is no need to complete one thing in a set amount of time. If you find that your children are enjoying a particular subject, stick with it. There is plenty of time to teach them what they need to learn. Staying flexible will reduce the levels of stress that can be incorporated with homeschooling.


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