Have you seen the movie Dudley Do-Right? My favorite character is the Prospector, played by Eric Idle. True to form, he brought a certain Monty Python-ish humor to his role. There is a scene where the Prospector becomes a mentor (of sorts) to the outcast Dudley. He tasks Dudley with three important lessons in his quest to defeat the nefarious Snidely Whiplash. But the Prospector mixes up the order of the lessons starting with number two.
Well, for the sake of consistency, that’s the mode we’re going with in this guide. Last post we started with Lesson 2: Reporting to your school district. Today we will go into Lesson 3: Planning Your Annual Schedule. The next post will cover Lesson 1: Deciding What Teaching Method and Curriculum Works for Your Family.
Confused yet? Good! You’re right where I started when I began my homeschool venture.
Ok, let’s say you’ve already figured out your teaching style, purchased your curriculum, and notified your school district.
First step is records. As a homeschooling parent, keeping records is vital, for your sanity and security. Every state law is different. Some require no record keeping while others insist parents maintain and produce records for their evaluation. So you must learn what your state requires. If you’re not sure where to begin, visit the HSLDA site at http://www.hslda.org/default.aspx
What records should you keep? Again, that varies from state to state. But here are some good basics regardless of state requirements:
- Founding Documents. This includes your statement of faith or philosophy as a homeschool, and any official correspondence between you and your school district (you did keep hard copies of your intent letter, didn’t you?)
- Attendance records and a school year calendar
- Curriculum list for each of your kids – state mandated courses and extra curricular
- Running tally of each book your child reads in the year
- Extra curricular activities, field trips, memberships and projects
- Emergency Plans and Fire Safety Codes
- Any student evaluation or achievement tests your kids take
- Health records
Now, on to that pesky annual schedule.
Curriculum, a calendar and a planner are the primary tools in your arsenal. Teacher’s planners come in an abundance of choices. Look online or visit a school supply store for the pre-made varieties. If you’re eclectic like me, then you can find freebie templates online or digital planners that are customizable on your computer. Type homeschool planners into your favorite search engine and be amazed at the results.
Next you need to know the number of days your state requires for attendance annually. For Wyoming, it’s 175 days. This is the foundation for your schedule. No matter if you’re a traditional or year round homeschooler, that’s the bare minimum to pencil in.
Next comes the fun part. Go through your calendar and mark which days are school days and which days (weeks or months) are for vacation. Tailor it to your family’s needs. Is there a family get-together or reunion coming up? Pen it in! Better yet, utilize it as a field trip. With homeschool, every day is a day for learning. Which reminds me, that goes for week days or weekends too. Have a five day week or a four day week. It’s your homeschool.
Now, figure the weekly workload. This requires math, but don’t worry. I won’t judge you if you use a calculator. Go through each workbook and write down how many pages of work are in each subject. Figure how many days in the week you’ll allot to that subject. Multiply that number by the required number of school days in your year. Now divide that number by the number of pages in your curriculum to figure how many pages of work your child should accomplish per day. Once you have those numbers, use them as a guideline to figure out which subjects to do and how often to do them in the course of your week.
A word to the wise before I close. Seriously, use them as a guideline. Don’t allow numbers to shackle your teaching. Be flexible. For your sake and your child’s. This is about their education. The best education comes from you investing your time and energy into them.