Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Planning for Next Year Step 2: Requirements and Time Slots

Once I am done evaluating my children's learning styles, I begin to look at our requirments, school calendar, and daily schedules. Many people do not begin to look at schedules until after they have chosen their curriculum. I choose to look at it before and after choosing the curriculum. This helps me to know how much time we have available for the "extras" and will help guide me in choosing the curriculum that will best fit our lives.

Requirements. I always begin my planning by looking at what we have to do, as directed by the state. Every state has individual requirements, so be sure to get a good look at what is required for your state. A great place to get started with this is to go to  My state law is based on number of hours in core and elective studies. I do a little math (yuk!) to even out how many hours/day I want to spend on school with how many days of the year we want to be in school. What works best for us is approximately 170 days of about 6 hours of school (give or take).

Calendar. Once I figured out how many days, I pull out my trusty calendar. I mark off the days or weeks that I do not want to be in school (Thanksgiving, Christmas break, Easter, etc). For me, the end date of school is more important than the start date. We go on an annual mission trip each year with our church in May, so my goal is always to be done a couple of weeks before the trip. So I start there and count backwards (170 school days!) until I reach what will be our start date! I also try to line us up as much as possible with our local public school. This year our start date will be August 20.
This is the part of homeschooling that is so wonderful. You can tailor those days however you want (within the requirements of your state) to fit your life! There may be any number of reasons to do any number of schedules! And it is all up to you!
Daily Schedule. Our "daily schedule" is rather loose. Princess Buttercup does not work well on a timeclock. Some days her math page may take her 10 minutes, and then the next day 1 hour on the same problems. She is easily distracted and wants to just do it at her pace. Once again beauty of homeschooling. What I find that works best is to just give her a list of her daily assignments for her to work on and allow her to work through the day at her own pace. Moving slow on some and fast on others, she always seems to get done by the end of our school time! So, when I create our daily schedule, I usually just allot an amount of time per subject that I think it should take, so that I know how much work to give her each day. I also consider all of the out-of-house things that we do - sports, library day, homeschool co-op, tutored lessons, etc. Also, being a pastor's family, we have to take into consideration Daddy's day off, which is Monday. Our school days run a little shorter on Mondays in order to spend some quality time as a family. Once I have put in all of the required subjects, I am able to see how much room is left for electives. This is the main reason I do this at this point, so that I can then go and choose my curriculum based on how much time I have to give each subject! I usually end up returning to the daily schedule and reorganizing things a bit after I have chosen my curriculum.

This step is possibly the most complicated for me and perhaps it is because I am such an over-organized, schedule-obsessed person! Many of you may even skip this step, but this is full disclosure of my preparation for the best school year ever!

Please feel free to comment on how you go about this part of the new year planning!

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