It's been a lovely summer so far here in California, and there isn't a bone in my body that wants to think about school. To the beach, I say!
Carpinteria, last weekend. I whined all the way home. All the way.
Alas, we homeschoolers don't really have that luxury, though, do we? If we wait until a week before school starts, we'll find ourselves so stressed out and overwhelmed, we'll wish we would have put in the time and effort way back in January.
And January is usually when I begin to think about the next school year. For me, the thinking through it all is the hardest part, really, so I like to mull it over for a couple of months, discuss it with my husband and older kids who get a say in what they study, peruse catalogs, and pepper online friends with questions. That all takes time, and waiting until August would be a disaster.
If you don't know what each child will be studying this coming school year, or what curricula you plan to use, stop reading this post and go pray! Seriously. Pray over your choices and ask God to give you real clarity. Pull out a piece of paper or your iPhone or whatever and write it all down.
I use Evernote. It is my brain's backup file.
After it's written down, I begin to look for the best deals- used curriculum boards like The Well Trained Mind Sale and Swap boards, used bookstores, ebay, etc. I look for free shipping deals and coupons. I recycle and reuse what we have. Since the brainwork was done in the early spring, I'm in no huge rush to purchase and can wait for the best prices I can find.
Back in 2009 I wrote a post about our Mega-Planning strategy, when we (I, really) get all of the physical planning for the school year done in one fell swoop. You can pop over and read that entire post, or you can stay right here and I'll reiterate, starting with step 3:
Go through each subject individually and make a spreadsheet or other type of lesson plan that works for you. For me, a good old Excel spreadsheet works for most subjects. Be realistic with [this step]. It is going to take up a lot of time, but what you plan in the summer means NO MORE SUNDAY NIGHT SCRAMBLING! Keep repeating that to yourself when you get bogged down.
Make a list of everything that needs to be photocopied. The list can be as detailed or as broad as you like. You can list "history coloring pages" or you can list actual books and pages- "Medieval Coats of Arms, p. 32"
Are you ready for this? Photocopy EVERYTHING for the ENTIRE year. Now. All at once. Make binders for each child and each subject with their already photocopied items, in order. For history, my kids' binders have tabs for each week and the pertinent items are all in order. Maps, coloring pages, word searches, biography pages, etc. are ready to go.
Ever told your kids, "Just a sec. I need to go copy this."? What happens when you turn your back or walk out of the room? That's right. Chaos! Now you've lost one to the bathroom, one to a drawing he "has" to finish, and two to an argument. But when the photocopies are ready to go, so are your students.
Make a "Mom List". I keep mine on Evernote so I can just glance at it and remember what each child needs to accomplish daily. For example:
Essay Writing (Writers Inc) and SAT Prep
Clean out van
Evening Chores & Zone
If this seems totally overwhelming to you, just say to yourself, "Kendra has seven students this year". :) You can do it!
Questions? Maybe your school planning question is answered here. If not, feel free to ask me in the comments.