Homeschool Lesson Plans
Ahh... organizing curriculum into homeschool lesson plans. The root of many questions. How do you take all the available resources you have chosen and narrow them down to something you can use to create a daily lesson?
If you purchased a pre-packaged program with the scheduling already laid out, you can probably skip this section.
For those of you who pick and choose nearly everything their child does, read on. I am one of you, and have found that there are as many different ways to approach organizing curriculum as there are homeschool families. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Decide what subjects you would like to teach this year. Math, Science, ect. Then, get a little more specific with each subject. For example,
history (ancient Egypt to the Fall of Rome)
Physical Education (tennis, general fitness)
Next, decide how you will teach these subjects. Remember, homeschool curriculum doesn't have to be all textbooks! List the subject and the materials you plan to use to teach it. Here are some examples:
math (geometry) - textbook, Teacher edition, tests, extra workbook
science (biology) - text, non-fiction books, field trip to zoo, DVD's, lab class at local co-op
history (ancient) - text, non-fiction books, museum with traveling exhibit of Dead Sea Scrolls, family vacation to Egypt (or virtual trip online), DVD/video
Physical Education - tennis lessons, skiing, raking leaves
Once you determine your needs, you can research specific programs that will fit those needs or begin to research material to create your own homeschool lesson plans.
You've decided what to use, how do you go about organizing homeschool curriculum into something you can use?
When you have all your materials in hand, read the information on how to use them. Take some time to really figure out how the program works. You may discover it's not what you thought it was, or you may discover it's going to be more exciting than you hoped. Then, you will be ready to fit your homeschool lesson plan into your schedule. If you decide now (or in the future) that the curriculum you have chosen is not a good fit for you, click here.
You should create a "homeschool schedule", to integrate with your master calendar that you started. Ask yourself, "What do I want my children to accomplish academically, socially and personally this year?" What do you need to do to complete that goal? Work through a whole textbook? Complete a series of reports on inventors in the Renaisance? Volunteer at the church or local soup kitchen? Whatever it is, write out the details.
Break those goals into a monthly target by dividing the workload by the number of months you conduct school. If you have school 10 months a year and need to complete a 250 page textbook, then you should aim to complete about 25 pages per month. If your method involves unit studies and you have 10 you want to complete before year's end, you should aim to complete one per month.
Remember, this is not set in stone, only use it to help pace yourself. Your unit on birds may take 6 weeks, while your unit on Pilgrims may take only 2 weeks. The point of a monthly plan is to make sure you don't spend 4 months on something, then realize there is SO much left to reach your goals for the year. The perception of faving too much to do and not enough time causes stress and frustration, so do your best to avoid it.
Now you are ready to develop a weekly lesson plan. I map out a "suggested" weekly schedule at the beginning of the year by dividing the monthly plan by four. However, I always save the final decision on specifics for the week prior teaching. The reason for this? Unforeseen circumstances. You can't know in August that your child will be sick with the flu for a whole week in December. You don't know that you will have to make a 2 day trip to the state capitol to accept an award for your child's essay on recycling. If you plan each week too far in advance, things like this will put you behind and you'll end up feeling like you need to "play catch up" or you'll have to rewrite the rest of your year. I find it easier to look at my calendar a week out and plan our days for that week accordingly, always keeping in mind my overall goal and monthly schedule.
If I notice we have a busy day that includes something "out of the routine", like a dentist appointment, I will plan a "lighter" day. If I have a sick child one week, I just recopy the lessons they missed when they were sick. We get so much extra accomplished on our good days, I rarely feel the need to double up due to illness.
You may want to provide your child with a student planner so they can keep track of their lessons. This can be a very simple set of picture cards on the refrigerator for younger children, or an elaborate student notebook for older students.
Have homeschool lesson plans, but be flexible when necessary.
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