Friday, September 28, 2012

Homeschool Organization

The Oregon Garden Homeschool Day.
Two people forgot their cameras, so cell phone photos will have to suffice.

Gorgeous fall day!


I'm not sure if this bit of information will make you gasp in surprise or roll your eyes knowingly.

I heart spreadsheets.  I just do.  I have made spreadsheets to organize my schedule and various other projects for ages.  You can sit and do pretty much nothing and feel very productive because you made a spreadsheet.  You can make anything seem simple and conquerable by putting it in a spreadsheet, and you can add colors to make it fun to look at further organize your data/plans.  (I explained that I color-code items in my Outlook calendar to my dad once and there was definite eye rolling involved.)




Hobbit hole at The Oregon Gardens

I can be obsessive about details, and I like to have my plans laid out, but I have three kids' worth of baby brain going on.  I need an easy way to keep track of what happens in our homeschool life so that when CPS shows up and wants to know why my kids are playing in the mud in the middle of the morning instead of being in "proper" school, I can confidently explain that they are engaged in standards-based literary analysis by recreating scenes from the most recent Hardy Boys novel.  (Take that, book reports.)


Here is a screenshot of the giant spreadsheet I use to record what we actually do.  I make notes on my calendar (sometimes) about what I plan to do, but nothing goes in this spreadsheet until it actually happens.  I never ever print this because it's a monster, but I could if I had to for mud-scape justification purposes.  (Ok, wait, hold on.  I have to google "how to put a screenshot in your blog post".  Ah, there we go.)


I realize this is too small to read, and if you reeeally want to see my plans I can send you the whole gigantic file, but this photo is just to give you an idea of how I keep track.  I record what we do as the day goes along, because if I try to remember yesterday, I'm sunk.  I modified the file from something I found online for public school teachers, but of course I can no longer find the source.  I do still have that original file, so contact me if you want it.  I like the tabs across the bottom, so an entire year stays all together in a reasonably clear format.  I used this document all of last year too, so it's been thoroughly tested here.

As I mentioned earlier, I use Outlook to organize my day-to-day schedule, including a routine for lessons.  I have tasks in there too set to reoccur on a weekly, etc, basis.  The too-bad part about that is that they stack up in red on the side when I don't do them.

Blurry!  Apologies!

This sample is nice because it doesn't have many outside appointments or trips or other things that throw everything off-kilter.  I do print this every week, and then if when I plan lessons for the week, I make notes all over this page, which stays on my desk.  Schedule note: our lessons usually spill all over the day, but I try to get the most done during the baby's morning nap, and save her afternoon nap for school catch up and zoning out time for me.  We have breakfast and the kids do their morning chores usually between 7:30 and 8:30.  Today, everything ran like a clock. The kids ate, then cleared their dishes and went off to do their chores while I sat and finished my own food and checked facebook looked over my plans.  Then we came back together and proceeded to move steadily through our morning; no complaining, no glitches.  Just a great rhythm.  It was glorious.  The best part?  My husband was home this morning, and partway through, he remarked, "You sure run a tight ship here.  Good work!"


So there you go.  These are the two main pieces that I use to keep all the balls spinning.
In case you are wondering, Chickapalooza (up there in purple) is our church's women's retreat, and I am GOING.

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