Seven Days of Homeschooling Seven: Have a Plan and Stick to the Plan

When we first began homeschooling 8 years ago I had only 3 children and used a traditional textbook/workbook style where planning was very simple. My curriculum company sent me homeschool lesson plans and nice little work books that were simply do the next page.  I just did a number of pages in each workbook and read a number of pages in each “spine”. I picked this curriculum because it was what was reccomended to me by my daughters preschool. It seemed solid and simple enough. But it was extremely boring!

The second year of homeschooling I played around with different types of homeschooling. The textbook model was boring and I wanted to have FUN with my daughter, so we experimented with Charlotte Mason ideas (for
those of you who dont know, its all about short lessons and great books mostly) using Ambleside Online, Five in a Row, Sonlight, Simply Charlotte Mason and eventually just free styled using “good books” and reading a lot. While this was nice and a great bonding time in our homeschool it often left me lazy not getting much done, making excuses for not “having
school” on any given day for any given reason and The Husband was seriously doubting our decision. Not that these curricula had anything to do with that. It was more me finding myself as a teacher.

By our third year of homeschooling I added in a second student and a philosophy that went beyond the textbook model. After much prayer I  felt that just reading “good books” with no plan of action wasnt going to help me keep consistent in our homeschooling or have any type of order. How would I be sure everything was covered? How would the younger kids get what they needed? After much research I felt drawn to the 4 year history cycle and decided that I needed a curriculum that would guide my way and offer some consistency. I also needed something that combined students and was developed by someone who knew more about education than me. I bought Adventures in My Fathers world for my then 3rd grade daughter and 1st grade son. That was the year we started with Math U See as well. It was great! I had direction and a plan! The Husband was very pleased because he began to see consistency in our homeschool.
In our 4th year I added another student to the mix and began to get very overwhelmed. I learned that the look say way of teaching reading didnt produce the best spellers so I choose to use My Fathers World Kindergarten along side Exploring Countries and Cultures, and I cried! These two hefty manuels, boxes of books, homeschool laws and thr
ee little futures were looming over my head! How was I going to do this crazy homeschool thing? Was I nuts?
So I made an excel spreadsheet. It sounds hilarious now, spreadsheet? What? But no really. I made a “plan”. I started to map out each student and each subject and what our next year would look like. This was great because I could see what was working, what wasnt and how much I was projected to spend the following school year. I could also see what I needed for each student coming along. Now 5 years later Im using that same file changing it as I go.
I’ve learned to change how I teach the same book to each child instead of buying a new thing for each one. My oldest two children got tailored curriculum for them because I just bought something new each year. My youngest 5 will get tailored curriculum for them because I just change the way I teach them till I find a way that works for them. No more buying the latest and greatest item out there, unless something truly isnt working for us and so far the only thing thats gotten any change has been our spelling and Im very happy with what we are using now.
I’ve also learned how to tweak My Fathers World to work for us and how to combine the different programs. I’ve never used every single part of a My Fathers World year in one year. I’ve used it all but in different ways each year. My Fathers World is just a skeleton for our school. 
Having a good solid plan helps me see where Im going and where I’ve been. It simplifies things for me. I have a good list and no question as to what I need for the upcoming year. I know what I will need to spend and therefor how much to save and Im not wasting money trying new things just to go back to the old. I know my curriculum well, so I know what to expect and its easier to teach the younger kids and then Im only learning new things for my oldest. Having a plan also makes homeschooling cheaper for us as we reuse curriculum and teachers guides for future students. 

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