Our 2015 School Year

How I Plan my Homeschool Year ~ Our Cozy Den

It’s that time of year again! We are beginning a new school year on Monday!

As if homeschooling isn’t outside-the-box enough, we had to switch it up even more and do a January-November school year instead of the traditional September-May. I know, I know, it’s weird. But it works for us. When I started doing it, it was because of several reasons:

  • my son (and I) were anxious to start already
  • I wanted a “trial period” to see if homeschool was really for us before REAL schools started.
  • I wanted to take off Advent instead of the summer.

Now, my reasons are different, but I still love our unorthodox schedule. Reasons I love it now include:

  • It’s easier to plan, with fewer interruptions and large holidays.
  • We’re cracking open brand-new curriculum in the winter, when most people are getting bored and stir-crazy.
  • We can school in the summer, which gives us infinite outdoor possibilities. School at the park? Sure! How about the beach? Yep! On the trampoline? Writing spelling words with sidewalk chalk? Why take the summers off when it multiplies how fun you can make it?!?
  • We still love Advent – making the Christmas season less busy and more Christ-centered.

How I plan my weeks

I’m going to do another post tomorrow, detailing exactly what curriculum we are using this year for each kid. But for today, I’m going to explain our weekly schedule and how I plan it.

STEP 1: I decide what subjects I’m going to teach each child. We usually do all the basics (reading, composition, spelling, handwriting, math, science, history, geography), with two additional electives: Spanish (every year) and the second one changes from year to year. Two years ago it was art. Last year it was health. This year it will be Home Ec. We also have other miscellaneous subjects sometimes, like Connor does Spectrum Test Prep books, so he his familiar with standardized testing.

STEP 2: I decide which books I’m going to use for each subject. Some subjects are easy, because I just buy the next level up from what we are already using. Others, I research options and find a book that I think will work for that particular child’s learning style. I’m a big fan of Evan-Moor’s Daily workbooks, and we do use a lot of those.

STEP 3: I count how many “lessons” are in each book, and divide by 36 (our number of weeks of school) to figure out how many times per week they need to do that subject. Once I have this number written down for each subject, I can schedule it out. Some subjects they have every day, others are only 1, 2, 3, or 4 times per week.

This school year we are going to be trying something new – Field Trip Fridays. I blocked out several hours on Fridays for educational field trips, so our workload on Fridays is much smaller than it usually is. Each child only has 2 subjects to complete on Friday afternoons.

STEP 4: I make a Word document schedule for each child. I print one of these off every week, and they put stickers in the boxes as they complete their various subjects and chores. They get to cash these stickers in for money (10 stickers = $1) or media time (1 sticker = 5 minutes on a tech device). This is what Connor’s schedule for this year looks like:

Connor's 2015 Lesson Plans

Most subjects I don’t need to individually plan. That’s part of the reason why I love the Evan-Moor books. The kids just know to do the next lesson in their book. I don’t have to write extensive lesson plans every week for every subject.

Individual Subjects vs. Group Subjects

There are several subjects that I teach all the children together, and others that they do individually on their own. It took a few years of trial and error, but finally we have figured out that this is the schedule that works best for us:

  • Group subjects in the morning just after breakfast.
  • Take a few hours’ break from 10-lunch.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Independent subjects after lunch. (It’s much easier to help them with their work when the littlest ones are napping!)

Our group subjects this year are: Science, History, Geography, Spanish, and Home Ec.

Once I had the lesson plans in place for each child, I made a weekly Master Schedule of all the things I want our family to accomplish in a week’s time. This includes school work, chores, extra-curriculars, my work, workouts, shower times, meals, Byron’s school, and more.

I print this off and put a copy in my planner, on the refrigerator, and on both family computers. This helps us stay on schedule, to make sure we get everything done.

I don’t want to post this coming term’s schedule on the internet for anyone to see — it just makes me uneasy that people could see when we are home or not. But to give you an idea of what this looks like, here is last Autumn’s schedule:

Our winter schedule is going to be much busier than this one was! I'm jealous of how much free time I had!
Our winter schedule is going to be much busier than this one was! I’m jealous of how much free time I had!

So that’s the gist of how I plan our homeschool  year. Tomorrow I’ll post what curriculum we’re using this year, and how I lesson plan for our group subjects.

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