Aug 30, 2023

Plan Your Homeschool Year Using the Notebook Method

For Homeschool Moms & Dads · Homeschool Planning · Motivation
Plan Your Homeschool Year Using the Notebook Method

Everyone has their own method for planning out their homeschool year. For our family, I used the notebook method for many years and preferred to plan out the core subjects of math, language arts, science, and history prior to beginning our school year and then work in electives as we decided upon them. This was the process I used.

I would start my planning by purchasing a 5-subject notebook for each child and assign a subject to each section. The 5th section was for adding electives as we decided upon them. Then I would follow this process.

  1. Make a list of learning goals for the year. In the appropriate section of my notebook, I would add my desired goals per subject on the first page of the section. For example, under Math, I would put Algebra and tentative knowledge objectives. For language arts I might have "read X number of books" then list some of the books I wanted to be read, and add spelling, vocabulary, and writing skill objectives for the child's level. In history, I may have decided to focus on ancient civilizations and for science, I might want my student to study biology.

  2. Determine what resources I would be using as the base for the subject. If I already had an idea of what our spines would be for the subject I would add that information to my goals worksheet. If I had no clue what we would be using, I would do some research and add my findings to the page and refer to for the next step in my planning.

  3. Shop for curriculum. Once I had a general idea of what we would be using for each subject, I would start shopping. In addition to checking our own bookshelves to see what we already had, we would check out the Homeschool Buyers Club and other homeschool curriculum companies for the best pricing. We would also visit thrift stores and used curriculum sites to get the most bang for our buck.

  4. Check for pre-designed lesson plans. Once our curriculum was purchased and had arrived, the fun began. I would look the resource over to see if there was already a usable lesson plan strategy. Many curriculums are super easy to schedule as they are laid out in numbered lessons. Others take a little more effort. If there was an included or straight forward sequence for lessons, I would make note of this in my notebook for the curricula. 

  5. Decide on scheduling. If there was not a pre-designed lesson plan with my curriculum selection, I would outline in my notebook how much we wanted to cover per term, semester, etc. This did not mean writing out the exact assignments, but just a general overview of what we wanted to cover. This usually only took one page per subject that I would divide into 4 terms. I would list the resource(s) and then notes such as "Chapters 1-6," "Pages 1-100" or "Creation to Noah."

  6. Determine the need for supplements. While looking over my spine curriculum/book, I would also check to see if we would need additional supplements, resources, and/or supplies. I would add this information into the plan outline section in the term/semester it would be needed so that I would be sure to have it. Additionally, I would add notes about the curriculum such as if it was self-directed or when I thought additional teacher-led instruction may be needed, and other observations.

  7. Laying out the plan. Once I had done the basic steps above for all the core subjects, I would dig in and try to lay out a plan using my goals and term notes as a guideline. Typically, one or two lines per day worked fine to write out the assignments for the subject. And I always did this in pencil so I could easily erase mistakes.

Once I had everything all set for at least the first semester,  I would use the margins to assign a date for the assignments. When the assignment was completed, I would "check" it off in ink and add grades in ink. These notebooks also served for record keeping and reporting. I left each child's notebook available to them so that they knew what was expected of them and so they could work ahead in their studies if they wanted.

However you plan out your lessons, it is very satisfying to have a have game plan ahead of time ready for implementation when you start your school year.

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