Lesson Planning: Arrest Me!
When it comes to writing weekly lesson plans for our homeschooling, my views have morphed a lot over the last 13 years.
I think you're gonna have to arrest me.
Especially if I lived in London.
(Just read that article, above, if you don't believe me.)
In 1990, I graduated from college and began teaching fourth graders in a public school in Small Town, U.S.A.
Every Friday after school, or Sunday night at home, you'd see me hunched over my desk or card table in my apartment, spending at least an hour - and sometimes much more - writing down lesson plans for the following week.
They were required to be handed in to our principal every Monday morning.
Yes, sir. Get 'er done.
Every Monday morning, I'd faithfully hand in my newly written lesson plans. No matter if I couldn't go out for lunch with friends on Sunday afternoon because I had to stay home and work on lesson plans. No matter if I probably should have had physical therapy every week due to lugging such a huge bag of teacher's guides home. No matter if I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning to write them because I'd been ill all weekend.
Now, you might ask, "Why couldn't you have finished these lesson plans at school, during the work week?"
The easy answer to this is that I have a very hard time focusing and making detailed plans about anything unless it's absolutely quiet. Even to this day, I still have to either stay up late or get up early when everyone else is asleep to do any kind of detailed planning or thinking. Sadly, I just need peace and quiet to think. I think this is one of God's ways of keeping me humble! Ha!
And my classroom before, during, and after school, was full of interruptions: announcements over the intercom, phone calls, students needing extra help, grade level teacher meetings, and on and on. Plus, sitting at my teacher's desk facing stacks of papers to be graded or papers to be filed was depressing. God made me to be a slow worker and slow thinker who needed it quiet!
Often, I felt like doing this to my lesson plans:
When I married my husband, Elmer, I asked him if he would mind if I found a different job. I enjoyed working with children, and I normally don't mind doing paperwork, but working 70-80+ hours each week as a teacher was killing me. I got really burned out on the schedule, and lack of time to be at home as a new bride. I've never been a "career woman" at heart. :) Thankfully, he didn't mind at all, so my pay was reduced by one-half as I began working in a local special education office.
I didn't miss the lesson planning at all. :)
Eventually, we decided to begin homeschooling.
When Kelsi, our oldest, was a little tyke doing preschool work at home, I didn't see a need to do any planning. She learned so much just playing and doing little activities I had available for her. Lesson planning seemed silly when I could just grab the playdough or paper and scissors or help her learn to write her name. Her Sunday School teachers and Awana workers told me that she was well socialized and cooperative with other children, and her skills were advanced, so whatever we were doing at home and at playdates with friends was working well.
The "real" work begins.
Then, Kelsi began first grade at home. Oh, so now we're down to some "serious" business...or so I thought.
After a couple of months, it dawned on me that it was quite silly to be writing down detailed daily lesson plans for her little first grade schoolwork!
Our second born, Brittany, had a completely different learning style and personality, so I figured I might not even be using the same curriculum with her when she began first grade in a couple of years.
So, by the time Kelsi began second grade, I developed a yearly planner where I'd write down what we had actually already completed week by week instead of day by day.
It was SO much easier!
Feel free to download and use the master yearly planner I used:
After Kelsi finished the fourth grade at home, I abandoned the whole concept of public school lesson planning altogether.
That doesn't mean that I don't make any plans for our schooling at home. What it means is that I don't keep a detailed account of what we are planning to do or what we have already accomplished. I do keep a grade book of their scores and grades, and I do keep samples of their work, plus a record of attendance. Now that Kelsi is in the 8th grade, I'm having her build a list of books that she is reading this year for her literature studies.
But what I've noticed over the years is that homeschooling curriculum has become more structured and organized, as a whole, for the home educating parent. Instead of having to muddle through curriculum and try to figure out "the plan", most of the curricula we already use is either the type where the student works through it, page by page, or it is already structured in daily or weekly plans.
For grammar, spelling, math, science, Latin, and literature, we just continue to work through the material at the girls' pace and abilities. Easy! No lesson planning needed there. While only their grammar is the typical "workbook" style, the rest of it still requires no advanced planning from me.
The only school subject that requires some weekly planning from me anymore is our history studies. I just take notes on the planner that comes with the program, and sometimes transfer this information to a little weekly planner form for the girls to use in their independent studies during the week.
Help yourself to the weekly planner we sometimes use:
Other than that, you'll just have to arrest me. I don't see the benefit of spending a couple of hours each week writing lesson plans in advance.
Even if I had a larger family, I'd just have my children move their post-it note bookmarks from one lesson to the next, every day or week, as they worked through most of their curriculum.
So, arrest me!
What does your family do for lesson planning? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Unit studies? Yearly? What method works best for you?
11/9/2011 10:54:15 am
Thanks for all the links!! When I was teaching, I spent sooo much time lesson planning I felt like I didn't have a life! Things are so much better now.
11/26/2013 03:25:34 am
I can breathe again after reading this! I had been feeling great guilt over not having these plans and not investing time. Homeschooling an only, I never felt a reason to plan weekly, only an overall yearly plan as a guide. The only benefit, for my family, would be the addition of more structure for my 4th grader.
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Hi! I'm Julieanne!