I thought I’d show you the real key to my homeschooling
sanity organization — my planning notebook.
Way back when, when I first started homeschooling our oldest son, I tried using planning software. For some moms, these work great. Neither one quite fit my personality, which is to customize and customize. <wink> I also tried purchasing a teacher’s plan book at a school supply store. Same problem, only worse, because I really don’t need seating charts for just my few kids.
So starting very early in our homeschooling “career,” I started customizing my own planning book, just using Word and Excel on my computer. (Open Office has a free version.) It fits my style, plus I’m able to save all the planning sheets to use with younger children coming up. At the end of the school year, my planning notebook goes into the attic, in a “portfolio” box for that school year. One of the most fun parts of the summer for me is making a fresh, new notebook for a fresh, new school year.
So let’s take a peek inside my planning notebook.
Inside the Front Cover
As soon as you open my notebook, you’ll see a lot of odds and ends and daily junk in the inside pocket.
- Scrap paper.
- A public school calendar clipped from the newspaper.
- Pieces of paper where I’ve scribbled ideas and things to do for each child.
- Sample schedules of my own and of families online, all scribbled on, of course.
- Sticky notes stuck here and there — “Get a new chapter book for Arik from the library,” “Look up spelling of existance, or is it existence?” “What would it cost to take a field trip to the Indian ruins by the South Dakota border?” etc.
The first few pages of my notebook are the pages I look at every day, so they get a little dog-eared.
- Page 1: A list of each thing we do in Together School. I know, we do it almost every day, so you’d think I could remember what comes next, but I appreciate having a list to look at.
- Page 2: My master schedule for the day. No, we don’t always stick to it, but I like to have it handy for reference.
- Page 3: Our attendance calendar. I just mark each day that we actually have school, so I can quickly see how we’re doing.
- Page 4: Our school-year calendar. This is what I am hoping will happen this year.
- Page 5: Transcript records. Since my oldest two children are in high school, I’m trying to write down what we do as we do it, since I won’t remember it all at the end of four years.
Behind the Tabbed Dividers
Next are all the tabbed divider sections that help me remember everything.
- Divider 1: Checklists — Each child has a checklist that he looks at daily to be sure he’s done all his independent subjects. They have a copy of their checklists in their own notebooks, but these are for me to refer to, to keep everyone accountable.
- Divider 2: Plans for Little Ones
- Divider 3: Together School Plans
- Divider 4: World History Plans
- Divider 5: Language Arts Plans
- Divider 6: Math Plans
- Divider 7: Science Plans
- Divider 8: Art, Crafts, and PE Plans
- Dividers 9-15: One for Each Child — Behind these tabs, I’ve got:
- Reading logs – a list of books each child is currently reading.
- Lesson plans for individual subjects.
- Lists of supplies I want to buy.
- Notes of things each child needs to work on or wants to learn.
The Back of My Notebook
At the very back of my notebook, I have a bunch of miscellaneous teacher helps:
- A zipper pouch — This holds my pens, pencils, highlighters, paper clips, sticky notes, and a couple odds-and-ends (like ponytail bands, a Lego or two, etc.).
- Blank notebook filler paper
- Report cards (because I’m required to turn one in here in Minnesota)
- HSLDA info
- Spelling rules
I think that’s about everything. My kids each have their own school notebooks, too..
(I also have a “Command Central” notebook in my kitchen, to keep my house and health organized. I use their planning pages for this, too. You can read more about my kitchen notebook in my Too Tired book.)
I’d love to hear how you keep yourself organized for school. Leave a comment below!