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The Homeschool Student Planner

A Not Too Brief Introduction ~:~

Even though our homeschooling styles may differ, we most likely have one thing in common: the need to keep sufficient records—both for attendance and for marking the academic progress of our children. No matter what curriculum you use, no matter what the learning style of your child(ren), The Homeschool Student Planner can be easily adapted to suit the unique record-keeping needs of your family.

The purpose of this book is not to tell you HOW to homeschool. You no doubt have that under control. You have your curriculum chosen; your method of teaching established. The purpose of this book is to give your child a way to manage all of that!

Planner Summary ~:~

The Homeschool Student Planner consists of thirty-six blank work schedules, one for each week of required instructional time. The schedules are then arranged into four nine-week segments, or Quarters. Each Quarter has a designated envelope preceding it, designed for the safe-keeping of masterpieces, finished loose assignments, or whatever the student would like to archive.

Following each Quarter’s nine weeks of work schedules is a "Score Keeper" for recording grades, if desired, and a percentage scale for grading. One "Yearly Averages" page is also included in the back section. If you do not use a grading system in your homeschool, by all means, tear out these sheets! My feelings will not be hurt!

On the back of each week’s work schedule is a place for the student to keep track of any or all books that have been read that week, plus a space for notes. Additionally, at the very back of the Planner, you’ll find a sheet designed for the recording of textbooks/workbooks completed throughout the year, providing an at-a-glance record of progress. (For the grandparents’ sake!)

One other special feature that makes this planner unique is the presence of an everlasting "Scratch Pad" on the inside front cover of the book. Use only a Dry-Erase marker here, and the surface may be easily cleaned with just a tissue. This is a great place to work math problems, write out spelling word lists, take practice tests, etc. Of course the inside back cover may be used for this purpose as well.

There Is No Wrong Way To Use This Planner ~:~

This simple booklet system can be used in many ways, but I’d like to highlight some ways in which I have used it over the years with my own children.

Originally, during the early years of teaching my young children, I would simply mark a day off on the calendar if we "did school work" that day. We homeschooled a day at a time, and when we reached the magical 180-day mark, we stopped. This action of putting two swipes of pencil lead on a calendar square served as the children’s attendance record, which did happen to fulfill the rules set out by our "umbrella school".

Now, schooling in this manner was all well and good, except that I never felt prepared. I never was prepared! Soon the problem of motivation reared its ugly head. At the time, I had four children under age five, and if I didn’t feel like instructing little minds on a given day, I usually ended up giving in to my own laziness, accomplishing nothing that would even qualify for the pencil-swiping across the calendar. How could I train the children to be diligent from a tender young age if I was less than organized myself? How I wanted to be organized!

Fortunately, teaching kindergarten wasn’t terribly demanding, and it truly did not necessitate the writing out of elaborate lesson plans, as I had been taught to do in my college Education classes. I felt the need for some sort of planning system that would not be restrictive, but could still motivate me to pursue daily goals in educating the children.

Simply Organized ~:~

In short, The Homeschool Student Planner grew out of my own need to get my proverbial act together. I wanted to break the rapidly-forming habit of hit-or-miss schooling before it became insidiously ingrained in both me and my children, but I didn’t want to sacrifice the flexibility our family enjoyed. The idea of having a weekly work schedule for each child turned out to work famously for us! I could easily manage looking ahead for just one week, a day at a time, and planning what I would like for each child to accomplish in that time frame. I, in turn, began to encourage the children to be responsible for reading their own schedules and doing their work on their own, and eventually to be responsible for writing up their own schedules....which brings us to another area for discussion.

Philosophical Bias ~:~

As much as I desire to steer away from touting any particular homeschooling style, you probably have figured out that our family favors a self-teaching method. My husband and I have realized by using a weekly work schedule system that our children are much more capable of working independently than we would have ever thought! Our goal is to allow our children to be self-teaching. I say this because it is a natural tendency for us as parents (probably as a result of our own public or private school upbringing) to think we must spoon-feed knowledge into our children’s mouths. It is the constant spoon-feeding that wears us down as homeschooling parents! If you think that there has to be a better way to educate than by parental regurgitation, you’re right! The Homeschool Student Planner allows for as little or as much self-teaching to be done by the student, depending on what your parental goals are for the education of your child.

Almost all children are self-motivated when it comes to something. Perhaps the only thing your child is self-motivated to do is eat and sleep. Good news!....That can change! Your expectations of your child are the most powerful tools for effecting a change in his heart. It is very important for the parent to make sure the student knows what is expected of him. Close oversight of the student may be necessary at the outset of using this particular planning book; however, once the child knows your expectations of him, you and he both will reap the benefits. Allow your child to exceed your expectations!

Enough philosophy. (Sorry...I get carried away sometimes.) Please allow me to explain two of the many ways that this Planner can be used.

Parent-Directed Learning ~;~

One way to use the Planner with younger children who may not be reading on their own yet is to make a list of daily required assignments for him on the work schedule. During schooling time, instruct the child in each subject area, and when a lesson is completed, allow the child to mark it off on the schedule. Easy, right? Now you have a record (no matter how detailed it is or is not) of all that the student has accomplished today. Detail is not important. What is important is that you leave a trail on paper of what was accomplished.

For the older student, the parent may once a week or on a daily basis fill in the work schedule with the assignments that should be completed throughout the week or for that particular day. The student can then independently work on the assignments on his own, pausing to ask for help if it is needed. I always encourage my children to ask for help! They can not possibly learn everything; therefore, one of the most valuable things I can teach them is where to go to find the help they may need. This is a three-step process:

(1.) Consider what sources are available if help is needed. (2.) Evaluate these options. (3.) Choose the most likely source and start looking for answers there.

You will find examples of parent-directed vs. student-directed work schedules by clicking on these highlighted links. Soon you will have found your OWN way of using this book!  I would be very interested to hear about the adaptations you’ve made ~~ if you have a minute (uh-huh) to contact me via mail or email.

Student-Directed Learning ~:~

The Homeschool Student Planner was especially designed for the student to be able to keep track of his own work. As soon as possible, the child should be encouraged to choose the amount of work to be accomplished in a day, then in the entire week. (I hear a collective gasp from the audience!) Quite simply, children are greatly motivated to excel on their own when parents set clear expectations and guidelines and then get out of the way. Give your child the gift of your trust and confidence in his ability to learn independently, then stand back and watch. Yes, you will need to look over his shoulder regularly to ensure that satisfactory progress is being made. But you just may see a new spark of excitement in your child’s eyes as a result.

Student-directed learning does not mean that the parent doesn’t monitor the child’s work. What it means for us is that we don’t read everything together out loud and discuss, discuss, discuss. I can give a textbook to one of my (older) children and have him/her read it on their own. Children under age nine may need more daily oversight than older children to ensure that new concepts get well-established in their minds. But even my first grade daughter can read her work schedule, do the assignment listed, and then cross the subject off on the schedule. Then she moves on to the next subject area.

Note: I prefer to have weekly work schedules done as opposed to daily ones. But daily ones are fine, as long as the work is assigned and THEN completed. I personally do not advocate just recording work AFTER it has been completed. There is much motivation lost if a goal is not set initially and then met. This, however, is my own opinion, and what works for you, works for you! Who am I to say differently? Permit me just to encourage you as parents to allow your child to experience the rewarding sense of accomplishment he gains by setting attainable goals and reaching them on a daily basis!

Marvelous Motivation ~:~

As I’ve said repeatedly, and you no doubt are tired of reading it, one of my husband’s and my goals is to train our children to be as self-teaching as possible. By allowing our older children to choose their weekly workloads, we get better results than if we had assigned that same amount of work FOR them! Why is this the case? Hmmm...I just don’t know. Wouldn’t you rather do something because you decided it would be good to do instead of being told by someone else what needs to be done? A quirk of human nature I suppose. The fact remains: when left to themselves, most students will take on more work than their parents would assign to them.

An associate of my husband has two true genius-status children. The older child graduated from high school at age six, and from college at age ten. (Incidentally, this same boy is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s youngest college graduate.) I remember a conversation I had with the children’s mother several years ago. I asked her how she could possibly keep tabs on what her children were learning throughout the early days when she homeschooled them. She told me that she gave her children weekly assignment sheets, and added that if they completed the work by, say, Thursday, then they earned themselves a three-day weekend. What a unique concept! As a diploma-waving, card-carrying, state-certified teacher, the mere thought of allowing children to work "ahead" if they so desired was purely anathema! Know what? I tried this mom’s technique with my own children shortly thereafter, and our homeschooling world was never the same. I often have children working ahead in order to earn an extra day off here and there. We, however, do not have any children currently listed in the world record book.

A Few More Thoughts ~:~

The work schedules contained in this book, whether filled in by the parent or by the student himself, provide a weekly road map marking where the student’s come from and where he’s going. Your child can see what is expected of him on any given day and can respond accordingly. At the week’s end you and the student have a tangible record of his accomplishments, as well as viable attendance and grade records.

Parents, you may never again hear your child say, "What do I need to do in _____ today?"

For years I have used the work schedules as they appear in this planner for my bunch of children. Until recently, however, I only printed up loose pages of schedules for them as needed on a weekly basis. Those schedules sometimes got lost, and you can imagine the frustration of losing even one sheet! A whole week’s records gone! This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, either. Thus, the idea of putting a whole year’s worth of work schedules into bound form was born out of one such moment of blinding frustration. And here we are.

There are times, of course, when something unforeseen arises and the week’s assigned work can not be finished. Let’s say Grandma and Grandpa are coming on Thursday for a short visit. In preparation for this, I probably would have the children work ahead on Wednesday , doing as much of Thursday’s work as possible beforehand. Anything leftover may then be done on Friday along with Friday’s work. Or perhaps I would have taken pity on the children and just assigned less work for Thursday , and then had them do any remaining work on Saturday morning. Flexibility is the key! Find what works for you and go from there, being confident that change is good!

In Closing ~:~

It is my utmost hope that The Homeschool Student Planner will be a useful tool for you and your child(ren). I offer you this tried-and-true system which has provided me with great peace of mind and a sense of orderliness in my own homeschool.

Warmly,

Joanne Calderwood

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