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Why is a plan important?
Over the years, I have found that one of the most essential ingredients to a successful school in our home is having a written plan. When it comes to organizing things on paper and working out a plan, I get goosebumps! I love making lists and schedules, but following through can be the tough part. I have run the gamut from trying electronic to standard school paper planners and I can tell you that there is not a perfect one that will work for everyone. The key is to JUST HAVE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT! When I start out my week without a plan, we are scrambling all week-long. I feel disorganized, I flit from one thing to another and we lose our focus. It is difficult for me to accomplish my educational goals with my kids when I don’t know where I am headed. A plan gives me direction and like a map, it helps me get to my destination.
Where do you start?
A School Plan
Find a quiet place where you can be alone for an hour or so and grab a notebook, planner, laptop, post-it notes, etc. I usually have several planning sessions a year to plan for the upcoming school year. I research curriculum, check prices, make notes about things to ask my husband about and then I pray and ask God for direction in the education of my kids. I look for areas that need improvement and pick a focus and set goals for each of my kids. Sometimes this takes the form of a written list and other years it has just been a mental list that I keep in the back of my head when I am planning.
Next, after I have a list of curriculum I want to use, I am able to make a shopping list. After supplies are purchased and organized for the year, it is time to map out my plan. I try to get a sense of how much I need to cover to complete the material in the allotted time frame. once I have set the pace for my curriculum, I am ready to get down to the daily planning. I have tried planning for months at a time and weeks at a time, but I have found that in this season of my life, planning weekly works best for me. I set aside an hour or so once a week to gather the materials that we need for the upcoming week and make out checklists for each child. I print out worksheets and organize each child’s materials and checklists in a binder. We school in the main open areas of our house including the living room, dining room and kitchen. This allows me to be able to wash dishes and keep up with the laundry while keeping the kids on task. We reserved a shelf in our living room for books and each child has his own magazine rack of books, plus a binder. We keep the extras and things we are not currently using in the basement. This really helps when it comes to clean up at the end of the day. The kids know where everything goes and I require them to place them back in their respective boxes on the shelf. I purge the binders once a week and file the saved papers in the basement. At the end of the year, I collect the samples I need to save and toss the rest. The saved work goes in a binder and gets stored in the attic with my annual evaluation.
A Meal Plan
I have started using a great online meal planning service recently that I HAD to mention because it has been so helpful to me and has really simplified my meal planning and grocery shopping. I love to deal shop, but I realized that it was taking too much of my time to keep it up long-term. This system has allowed me to pair meal planning, eating healthfully, and shopping the sales and I am hooked! Plan to Eat has allowed me to add my recipes and help me stay on plan with my Trim Healthy Mama way of life. It has taken away the stress of what is for dinner and it even has space for me to plan snacks, which the kids have loved. I simply add my recipes to the sight from my laptop. I can pull recipes from my own recipe books, Pinterest, blogs or sites such as All Recipes. I then choose recipes to drag into my meal planner and the software magically takes all the recipes I plan and turns it into a grocery list for me divided into departments. My first trip shopping trip using this software saved me over an hour in the grocery store. I can pull up the recipes quickly on my phone using the app and see my grocery list, meal plan for the day or recipes for a particular meal in seconds. I can save a weeks worth of meals into a menu plan and then reuse that menu over and over by simply dragging the menu into my planner. I can plan a week’s worth of meals in a few minutes this way. It takes a little time upfront to input the recipes, but you can also grab recipes from friends using Plan to Eat to help you get started and build your recipe book. If you check it out, look me up. My username is Whitfieldwalker. I would be glad to share recipes with you. They have a free 30-Day trial so you have nothing to lose. This has been so helpful for me! I have been sharing it with many of my friends because it really has been such a blessing to our home.
A Housecleaning Plan
This planner has been my most recent addition to my arsenal of planning tools. I love checklists and I have tried making my own homemaking binder, using an app on my phone, setting up lists on Evernote, but nothing has really clicked with me until I found this simple printable planner. Susan over at the Confident Mom has created this beautiful planner that is customizable, printable and FREE. She has a heart to help and bless moms and you can purchase some add-on items to the planner if you wish. The basic free version offers housecleaning tasks broken down into manageable tasks that really have helped this easily distracted mama stay on task. I find myself starting to clean out the bathroom, then managing to be sidetracked by a messy drawer, a magazine on the dresser, a text message or a child who is summoning me. (Anyone else out there like this?) Knowing that I need to accomplish certain laid out tasks has given me direction and a plan of attack. I feel like things are starting to look cleaner and I certainly feel more accomplished after checking off my list each day.
What about you?
There are many methods of planning out there. Some plans are as easy as using Post-It Notes on the fronts of your textbooks and some are as difficult as scheduling your entire day in 15 minute time blocks. You have to find the system that works for you and then map out your destination. Do you want to complete that 5th grade math book, learn beginning Spanish, have a weekly meal plan and a cleaner home? Each of these things is possible with good planning. Use your imagination and the sky is the limit!
If you would like to read more great articles, head on over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
Check out these other great bloggers that are writing about homeschooling essentials this week.
Karen @ Tots and Me
Beth @ Weavings
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Karen @ My Harbor Lights
Amy @ Wildflower Ramblings
Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy
Tara @ This Sweet Life
Mary @ Winecup Christian Homeschool
Meghan @ Quiet in the Chaos