Homeschool parents wear many hats over the course of 12-15 years. Taking on the roles of Principal, Guidance Counselor, Head Teacher, Book Keeper, Chauffeur, Psychologist and Social Director (all at the same time), the responsibility is enormous.
With responsibility comes accountability. And though some states don’t require formal schooling or detailed records, homeschool parents still always have many things to track and do.
That’s where Teacher Planning Days come in…
In school settings, classroom teachers use planning days to fill-in progress reports, inventory classroom materials, reach out to parents and catch up on other activities that are impossible to complete during the school day.
Homeschoolers can use the same strategy for catching up.
Homeschool parents need planning days, too!
In our home, my planning occurs throughout the year as needed, but the most intense planning happens in July.
During the year, my planning days consist of things I can do in a day. This includes grading papers, printing lessons, updating transcripts, replenishing supplies and other smaller things I knock out quickly.
But in July, I perform all of the larger tasks that need doing — the stuff that takes longer than a day. That includes creating student portfolios, boxing up work from the year, selecting curriculum for a new year, revising school schedules and household charts, organizing shelves, reorganizing furniture, and other jobs that take a lot longer.
For a couple weeks every July, my kids get a vacation. They rest, catch up on interests and hobbies and basically do whatever they want. During that time, I consult with them about making choices, choosing classes, resources they like best, what they were able to complete in certain courses, and what else they’d like to study next year.
I devote that time every year to our family and our homeschool efforts. It’s perhaps my busiest time of the year. Don’t worry — I take personal days off whenever I need them throughout the year. But in the month of July, I work really hard.
As I write this, I am in the midst of planning for our upcoming school “year”. My desk is littered with scribbled notes and incomplete projects, my computer screen has a full width of tabs open, and the floor around me looks as though I haven’t filed a sheet of paper in ten years.
But, within a week or so, I’ll be finished with all of the “big stuff” and ready for another great year. All curriculum will be ordered, shelves cleaned, used books listed for sale, new schedules typed up, and the list goes on and on.
A lot of work? For me, yes.
But, the payoff equals peace of mind, organized days, and well-equipped spaces for everyone to live and work during the year.
How can YOU use Teacher Planning Days?
Throughout the year, use planning days to:
- catch up on homeschool record-keeping
- file paperwork where it belongs
- read an e-book or listen to a lecture
- insert items into a scrap book or photo collage
- research a specific topic or resource
- review procedures with your students
- tidy up areas in need of attention
- order a book
- organize a binder, a junk drawer or a snack area
- empty your Inbox
- organize or swap out schoolroom toys & manipulatives
- label boxes, bins or folders
- phone a contact to get some questions answered
During longer planning periods, you may:
- develop a filing system
- create charts for doing chores, putting things away or explaining procedures
- organize your homeschool library
- create a study area
- attend an event, workshop or conference
- empty a closet, creating homeschool storage
- make a list of resources to teach a specific subject
- train children to complete new chores
- look back over what worked (and what didn’t) the previous year
- meet with other homeschoolers for support
- create centers around the house
- read a homeschool, education or parenting book
- start (or finish) a transcript
- obtain teaching materials for the next year
Planning days are about re-grouping and re-organizing for the coming days and weeks. That means, they can be used for anything you need to keep going strong. If cleaning off a kitchen counter is what your kids need to make progress, use a planning day to do just that. If going to a warehouse store to stock up on toilet paper is what your home needs right now, you can do that too. Whatever it takes.
Planning weeks (or longer) are about getting ready for the next phase, the next season or the next full year. Do whatever it takes to prepare for those, too.
Never feel guilty about taking a day “off” for planning. Think of these days as insurance for a better homeschool year. Some parents call these days “Professional Development” days. (I love that!)
Planning days can be sprinkled throughout the school year randomly, or inserted into a schedule on a regular basis (e.g., the first Tuesday of every month). Another way (a strategy I use in our home) is to drop everything and declare a planning day any day one is needed.
Whatever it takes to be successful.
Are you a planner? How is homeschool planning done in your home? Have any of these ideas encouraged or inspired you to try something new?
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Or, drop a link to something you’ve written about planning, too!
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