Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Get Your Act Together

I have a secret to share with you.

Are you ready for this??  Come a bit closer, as I don't want everyone to know..

Here it is.

For the first two years of my homeschooling, I didn't keep a single record!!

Now, before you clutch your hands to your chest and have a coronary, keep in mind that I live in California, a state where I'm not required to keep any real records.   

However, being a military family, I know that at any time, my husband can call me up from his work without warning and let me know that we are moving and the likelihood that we will move to a state that is as lax in regards to record keeping is pretty slim.  Because of this reason, I knew I needed to get into the habit of keeping records and keeping a schedule that I can access at any time showing what we have worked on, what we are currently working on, and what we plan to work on in the course of our school year.

Here's the problem with that... I didn't have the first clue as to how to get my classroom scheduled organized and to what extent I needed to keep records.

I don't want to admit how many times I have written out a lesson plan and a schedule, only to have it all go out the window within a few days.   Maybe you've done the same:  started out with good intentions of following a plan, writing it all down only to realize that on Wednesday Lil Bubba is going to have a meltdown and refuses to do anything you've got written in that pretty lil planner of yours..  I've had this happen to me more times than I can count and it can get rather frustrating.  Maybe part of me is OCD, although, obviously, it's not a very big part, but that part of me absolutely hated scratching out entries in my planner.

Here's how I keep everything organized without driving myself nuts.

My Three Planner System

After trial and error, I have come up with a three planner system that uses both a digital planner as well physical planners.. Any planner will work for this system, however right now I use a combination of the Homeschool Planet Digital Planner, the Hey Mama Schoolhouse Planner from the Old Schoolhouse and the Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia.   I have what I call my "Ugly planner" and my "Pretty planner" which is not any indication on the design of any of the planners, only in how I use them.

Part 1:  Ugly Planner

My Ugly planner is basically my rough draft version of my planner.. I jot down what I want to accomplish each week as well as  make notes to any videos I might be interested in or activities I might want to include in a lesson if time permits.  As this is my "Ugly" planner, I give myself full permission to make scratches through entries if our plans change or if we do not finish a lesson for that day.   This is also the planner I pull out each day during class and try to follow what I have written down.  As we complete each entry, I make a check mark on that item knowing that I have completed it.  I use various different shorthand notations in this planner.  This is NOT the planner I would give someone if they wanted to see what we have been doing in school and it is basically for me personally.

Work Kept In The Binder Til End of the Week
On Sunday night, all the handouts and work that I expect the kids to do for the week are printed out
or ripped out of consumable workbooks, stapled into packets for each kid by subject, hole punched and placed at the front of the binder.  This way, as I go through the schedule, I have everything I could possible need for the week at my fingertips and I am not running trying to find a book or workbook while the kids are waiting.  Each assignment is kept in the front of this binder until the end of the week, when I stamp them and put them away for my records.  (More about that in a few).

Part 2:  The Pretty Planner

The Pretty Planner is where I painstakingly put the assignments that are accomplished each day.  This is what we actually did, as opposed to what I had hoped we would be able to do.  I fill this out after the completion of each day, so that there are no scratch outs, mistakes or false information.   This planner is entirely just my assignment listings as well as attendance records and grades - I do not keep any other paperwork or records in this particular planner.   This planner does not show any plans for future assignments, which could possibly change, but is only filled out after the fact.  This is the planner that if I were asked to prove what we have been working on during the school year, I would pull this planner out and would be able to provide the work on each of these days if I were asked to do so.  So long as I keep all the assignments that we work on each week organized and put away, if I am ever asked to provide something that is marked in this planner, I would just go to that weeks stack of work and quickly locate the assignments for both children, I would never be off guard and not be able to provide the assignment if needed, so long as it is documented in this planner.  This is also the planner that I keep all attendance records in: if we had class that day, it's marked and again, any assignment for that day can be provided.

Part 3:  Digital Planning

My third planner is my digital planner. I absolutely have come to LOVE this planner and it is really helped me pull everything together.    This planner is a combination of the first two planners.  This is the planner that if I were to be asked what I plan on teaching for the month of May, I could quickly print out the pages for May from the program and provide those. I keep that part of the planner filled out form what I plan in the Ugly Planner..  However, everything from the current date and backwards is a mirror copy of the Pretty Planner, but with detailed notes about the assignments.   This is also the place where I keep detailed records on the grades that the kids make on their assignments as well as with my grading scale for each class.

Part 4:   Assignment Box

An Assignment that's Dated for Filing
The last part of my organization occurs at the end of the week, prior to organizing the next weeks assignments.  All assignments that the kids have worked on throughout the week are removed from by binder.  Using a date stamp, I go through and ink the date each assignment was worked on on each page.  For each month, I place these completed assignment in a drawer in case I need them for the kids to refer to. At the end of the month, all those assignments are placed into a cardboard box assigned to their grade where they will be stored. All assignments are stored in order, by month and date so that if I need a particular assignment, I can quickly find what date it was completed in my planner, go straight to the box and find the corresponding months work and go straight to the date.

A Monthly Stack of Work

This is how I organize everything and it works for me. But here's the best tip I can give you...

It Might Not Work For You!!!

What works for me might not be the right system for you.  I found this system on my own and it fits perfectly to my needs - the need to have a "pretty planner" and the need to be able to have a scratched out planner as things change.

This post is part of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents sponsored by the Schoolhouse Review Crew..  Click the banner below and discover all the wonderful tips other members of the crew have to offer :)    Here's a few suggestions to help get you started.
Dawn @ Double O Farms 
Elyse @ Oiralinde: Eternal Song Emilee 

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

1 comment:

  1. I have the same pretty planner as you! I love it. However, just like you, I need to become more diligent with keeping records, especially as my kids get older.



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