A few days ago I posted about 3 planners we were given the opportunity to review and what we thought were the pros and cons. I also stated that I would be sticking with what I have been using. This post is to explain more about why.
When I first started using this binder I took a ton of time finding all the right pages for it. I will provide links if I can find them all again (I sure hope I had the foresight to at least have the websites printed on the pages!). I was afraid that this would be like all the other planners I’ve tried over the years, somewhat useful but not completely. I’ve tried teacher lesson plan books from chain stores and online, I’ve tried calendar square pages, I’ve tried pages with enough space for days and subjects for a week and had separate ones for the kids. I’ve even tried computer software that I typed the assignments in per student and printed off the plan sheets so I had them in front of me then input the time and grades at the end of the day or week (very time consuming and redundant I thought). That kind of stuff worked when I was only teaching 2, but I have 5 kids now. No, Little Miss Hugs-a-Lot doesn’t officially do school but I do need to have some sort of plan for her while we are doing school (still working on that one too), but the older 4 kids are doing school. I need something that I can see what needs done by me without flipping a bunch of pages back and forth. I need to see what *I* need to be doing, what teacher books I need out, what student books I need out. So I took a 3 ring binder that I had filled with other stuff that I wasn’t really using and made this my school planner. I used colorful see through plastic tabbed dividers that have folder pockets, that were all ready in the binder, to create my sections.
My Cover Page
I found my cover page at New Bee Homeschooler as part of their FREE curriculum planner. They even have a program that they sell to help new or struggling homeschoolers. They created an step by step plan for setting up your planner.
In this section I have a printout of the local school districts school calendar so I know when the neighbor kids have off, Zach & Brandi also have copies of this one. I have a year round calendar that I can mark up for counting days / planning for the year. I also have a list of the holiday dates for the coming year.
In the front of Records I have a page of Bible verses printed (one of the covers from New Bee Homeschooler, linked above) and stored in the folder pocket of the divider. Then I have 3 of the 2 Page Dated Attendance Record pages from Donna Young, one for each of the 3 older kids. I record hours and days attended on these sheets. Next I have 12 Record of Grades pages (from New Bee Homeschooler, linked above), this page has room for 3 students.Next is a Reading Log for read Aloud books (this page is also from New Bee Homeschooler, linked above). Then I have pages for logging video / Concerts / Plays / Live Events, Reading List – Journals / Periodicals, and Extracurricular Activities all from Donna young (linked above). Then I have notebook paper where I have written down what curric I am using with each child, honestly I don’t find these to be of any benefit to me.Then I have evaluation information and checklists for the grade levels we are covering to see where we we are at, I don’t really use these much (these are from What Your Child Needs To Know When by Robin Sampson, and Worldbook.
I LOVE notebook paper! A blank sheet has soooo many possibilities, within the boundaries of the blue horizontal lines and red vertical lines. It opens so many possibilities for notes, journaling, sectioning off the paper as one needs. Lesson plan sections are based on who I am working with, so I don’t have Zach or Brandi in my lesson plans individually anymore. I did, but now they use their Apologia Ultimate Teen & Student planners. (Honestly, Brandi had been wanting a planner but hadn’t found one that she liked. She likes the apologia one!) So, my planning sections are as follows: Everyone (things like read alouds). Zach & Brandi (for things that we do together, but without the little kids, like health). Mr. Thoughtful and Little Miss FunShine (for things that we do without Zach & Brandi, like health). Mr. Thoughtful alone (math, reading, etc.). Little Miss FunShine alone (letters, colors, numbers). Sometimes I will include ideas for Little Miss Hugs-A-Lot. Me (if I need to plan school that day, work on the blog, have a conference call for Mosaic Reviews, have a homeschool meeting, you get the idea). Extras (for anything “extra” that happens and wasn’t in my plan). I should include a section for My Man, things I want / need to do for him that day. Hmmm…I need to remember that! I write the date at the top of the page. I write how long each assignment took in the left margin so I can record the hours on the attendance pages in the records section.
I also have 3 Unit Study Master Planning Guide sheets, sorry I do not know where I got these). They have space for 5 weeks for each of the 12 months in a year. We use one for animals, one for composers, and one for artists.
The next section is for our homeschool groups History, Science, Arts, Craft, Baking fair. This year is the first time we participated and honestly I forgot I even had this section so hopefully I will better utilize it next year as I can see how it would help me out! LOL
The next section is for State history / travel. I have brochures, books to read, movies to watch etc. in this section.
I had planned to use this section for field trips (even have lovely pages printed from Donna Young’s site, linked above), but we never used it so I may just pitch this one or maybe use it for what I feel it needs used for next year. Maybe for records of things done if I enroll the kids in any outside classes next year. I will have to think about this one. Or for field trips. Who knows?!? LOL
I have 2 folder dividers here for this, 1 for each group we are in. I have the Group directories printed and inserted here. And I print the newsletters and place them here too.
In the front of the binder I have a 4 Year High School Plan from New Bee homeschooler printed and placed in a page protector so I can use a dry erase marker on it as we plan out the high school years for Zach. Behind that I have a few more pages that are in page protectors for a project that we did at the beginning of this past school year that I will have to blog about soon and we will have to do it again at the “close” of this school year and the beginning of the next I think. Throughout the binder in various dividers I have sayings / poems / etc. that inspire me. On the back cover is a page of inspirational sayings from New Bee Homeschooler (linked above).
I hope this inspires some of you to make your own planner or to at least think about what you really need in a planner. And, remember your needs may change from year to year or even semester to semester (or more often!). Our needs will be changing constantly around here since I have an almost 2 year old all the way up to a 14 year old!
Now, I am off to read more about New Bee Homeschooler’s Free Home Management Binder. Maybe I will wait to look at that and go to the store and buy a new 3 ring binder to use as for that! (I have a few smaller ones that I have been using, but maybe it’s time for a new one – whaddya think?).