Shown above: Well Planned Day Original Homeschool Planner
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when we make a schedule or a plan, we forget to include time to plan?
It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? We know that it takes time to create and maintain a plan, but we forget to set aside that time. That is actually one of the biggest reasons planning fails: we don’t make time for it!
This is equally true when we plan our school year. We know we need time for completing every lesson. But, we forget that we need to schedule in time to plan for each new week.
When scheduling out a school year, there are three things — other than lesson plans, of course — that we need to set aside time to plan for: planning out the year, preparing for each week, and completing regular assessments and evaluations.
Time to Plan Out the Year
A lot goes into planning out a year. You need to evaluate the previous year, determine what your student’s needs are, and purchase curriculum. Meanwhile, you also need to know how and when you’re going to fill any academic gaps you’ve discovered and set benchmarks for the year that will allow you to stay on track as you plan each week.
The catch is that this doesn’t take a set amount of time. It will take longer if you need to really pinch pennies and have to shop for the best deals or pull together your own resources than if you can buy a ready-made curriculum. The number of children you have to plan for will also impact the amount of time it takes, as will how much time you can spend each day in planning.
The key is that you need to plan for this time. It might be that you use Christmas or spring break to start evaluating curriculum. Or you might do it all over the summer. What matters is that you intentionally set aside time to plan for the school year by marking it in your planner, communicating what you’re doing with your family so they can honor that time, and then holding yourself accountable to that time.
Time to Plan for Each Week
You’ve created your weekly schedule. You’re ready to dive in. But as you finish week one, you realize something — you’re not ready for week two, and you have no idea when you’re going to get yourself ready for it!
A second common planning mistake is to forget to set aside time to plan for each week. Even if you have benchmarks set for the year and know about how much progress you need to make each week to stay on track, there is still planning to be done on a weekly basis.
Here are some things you need to make time for each week:
– looking back over the week you finished to make sure you evaluated all of the work and accomplished everything you needed to
– recording grades and making small assessment notes, as needed
– putting specific assignments for the coming week into your planner
All of this only takes an hour or two each week, which is really not much time in the grand scheme of things. But, if you’ve forgotten to block out space in your schedule, that hour or two might as well be a hundred!
As you create your weekly schedules and routines, be intentional about scheduling time to get out your planner and prepare for the new week. Without this intentionality, you will set yourself up for failure. With this intentionality, though, keeping up with planning can quickly become a natural rhythm that will sustain you all year long.
Time to Plan for Assessments & Adjustments
When talking about setting aside time in your schedule for planning, it might be very intuitive for you to remember to set aside time to plan for each new school year and time for evaluating the completed week, recording grades and comments, and preparing for the week ahead.
But what about scheduling time to plan for, and also implement, regular assessments and adjustments?
We often think of assessments as being an end-of-year thing as we evaluate our year and our students and make sure we’ve covered everything. But, regular assessments throughout the year — usually about every six weeks — are actually just as important and need to be included in your schedule! These assessments can help you evaluate whether you’re going too quickly or too slowly through your curriculum, whether or not your student is grasping everything, and what changes you might need to make in your overall goals.
If you wait until the end of the year to assess and evaluate, you can possibly end up with huge academic gaps or the need to make drastic adjustments. By scheduling in time to assess at multiple points throughout your year, you can make adjustments along the way and avoid the necessity for big shifts.
But remember that you don’t just need to incorporate time to implement the assessments. You also need to schedule time to plan for the assessments themselves (choosing your assessment, previewing it, and working it into the schedule) as well as time to plan for any adjustments you need to make after you’ve assessed. It may take a little more than your normal weekly prep time to process the assessment and adjust your upcoming benchmarks and lesson plans, if needed.
Your Well Planned Day Homeschool planner has space for regular six-week evaluations, but you also might want to consider using Well Planned Start assessments multiple times throughout the year to help you make sure you’re hitting academic markers and not leaving gaps.