Thursday, August 20, 2015

Planning Ahead in the Summer

Summer is over and school is in full swing!  I admit, I am a planner. I love to plan.  I love to plan maybe too much. I spent a ton of time this summer pouring over articles and lectures, trying to glean a lot of wisdom for this coming year. I also wanted to be well-prepared in hopes that it would reduce the time spent each week on getting ready for school.  The past few years I found myself spending 1-3 hours each weekend printing out sheets, reading notes, getting ready for school the next week.  I wondered if I could save myself time by doing it all over the summer.  It was a lot of work, but just in the third week of school, I'm already glad I did it. : )

Here's what I did that is saving me a ton of time.

1.  I made a spreadsheet of my typical day and my typical week, and blocked off the times that were not able to be spent doing school (meal times, Bible study, co-op, gymnastics, etc.)  Then I knew what I had to work with when it came to our schedule. (In addition, I could see when I was getting overcommitted). :) I got this idea from Misty at Simply Convivial. She is the organizational queen.

(Um, if you're looking at this daily matrix below, please don't be fooled into thinking this *ever* actually happens. :)  Normally, we start at around 9, and I don't work out until 4, if I'm not too exhausted.  I almost never get up that much earlier than the kids.  This is just the idealistic dream of a schedule that one day I will accomplish!)

2.  I started plugging in when we would study what on a typical day and week.  It ended up that we have a very busy Wednesday this year, so Wednesday, I'm not expecting much from us in the way of sit-down-school-work.

3. I formatted my online planner to reflect my realistic expectations of everyday and what lessons we would do.  Then I copied it and added those lessons to each week for the whole first semester.  Now, each week instead of adding a block and each subject, I just have to click that block and add the specific pages or chapter we'll be working on this week.

4.  I went through Tapestry, Harmony Fine Arts, and our timeline, and printed out everything we will need, and filed it by the week.  In my accordion file, I have printed and whole punched Student Activity Pages, Maps, Evaluations, art notebook pages, timeline figures, and coloring sheets for Levi for each week.  Each week, I just pull them out and put them in the binders.  This is a major time saver.

This is their "Humanities" binder.  It includes History (Tapestry Student Activity pages), Geography, notebook pages on scientists of the Ancient World we are studying (we are having a heavy focus on people and historical figures this year), Art and Music notebook pages, and their Timeline figures. 

5. I went through Tapestry, Harmony Fine Arts, and our science curriculum and chose projects and experiments for each week.  Then I made a list of supplies I needed, and I went and bought it all. I've never done this before, because it seemed like a big expense.  But you know what?  Every year when I think I'll plan projects as we go, and get supplies as we go, I never get around to getting supplies, and so many fun memories are lost.  This year, I decided if I go to the trouble to buy the supplies, I'll feel guilty if I don't use them, so maybe we'll actually do it! :)  Ha! So far so good. We've made a sugar cube pyramid, a clay sphinx, and this week, we are making paint from chalk and painting a mural outside.

I did a few other little things, like printing the Vocabulary and People glossary for Tapestry, printing out art prints to view for the whole semester, making flash cards ahead of time and laminating them.  It is all making my weeks so much easier, stress-free, and easily manageable.  What do you do to prepare for your school year to run well?

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