Almost Back to School: Planning, Scheduling & Preparing

Sprittibee's Almost Back to School Series

{ Note: This post is part of my Almost Back to School Series – follow along with the links at the bottom. }

As promised, here’s Post #3 of 5…

We started school yesterday, y’all. That means this series has gone from “Almost Back to School” to Officially Back to School. There were no doves decending from heaven. No great flashes of light or thunderous voices from heaven declaring that we were on track. No fanfare whatsoever.

Mama isn’t even finished getting all  her ducks in a row (shhhh!)… and that’s OK. If you want to teach a kid that it is OK not to be perfect, just be yourself. At least that’s my motto.

We had breakfast tacos on Back to School Monday. If you have been following me for the past nine years online, you’ll know that’s our signature treat on back-to-school day.

Here’s the 2014-15 Bee Hive Crew:

back to schoolers

Back to Skoolerz :: 2014-15

Even though I’m not totally in a groove yet, I’ve been checking off my list! Woohoo!

This was the original list I had to check off to create this post:

Post 3: Planning


1. Finalize outside classes if we take them and get dates on calendar
2. Put dates on calendar for all events, birthdays, holidays, & appointments
3. Set up a planning day next week without interruptions
4. Enter LP into Homeschool Tracker for MOH 2 & 3, make book list
5. Find books we have, check libraries for books we don’t, search online for Paperback Swap/Amazon
6. Print LP for history and put in homeschool binder
7. Update homeschool binder for this year
8. Make sure my printer has extra cartridge for school year
9. Data entry in Homeschool Tracker, print assignment sheets & report cards
10. Add PSAT/SAT testing dates to planner, print Texas standardized tests for beginning year evaluation

The Tracker stuff is hanging over my head like a guillotine, but there just hasn’t been time. It pays to do your grading, recording, and report card printing as you go along during the year and not in one caffiene-induced 24 hour period of retina-burning torture. Learn from my mistakes, will you?

In my defense, I do have one child who has outstanding summer school assignments that must be done before she gets her final grade for the year, but I can’t use her as an excuse as to why the rest of it isn’t done. I’m a gluton for data-entry punishment.

I’ve been working myself into the wee hours just to get a little quiet time. A teacher/mom’s work is never done…

homeschool tools

If you asked me what my three favorite tools are for school… they would be: Computer, Planner, Binder… and my #4-6 would be: mechanical pencil, highlighter, and a good pen.

Starting with #1 & 2 on this list above… All of our activities are on the calendar besides Teen Court. We get to go to our first “official” field trip of the school year tomorrow; and since I was the homeschool field trip planner for the local co-op this year, I can’t wait!

I also added service projects, holidays, family events and trips, church events and retreats, park days, doctor appointments, conferences and birthdays to the calendar. I’ll keep adding them as the emails and invitations roll in this year. One of my goals is to handle email and paper only ONCE.

In addition to the paper calendar, I added all these things to the Google Calendar. I even created a different calendar in Google for JUST field trips and invited my local co-op friends to join it so they could see the events. I love Google Calendar. I’m torn between using my paper one and Google. Wish I didn’t have to do both, but there are benefits to both, and I just haven’t found a way to eliminate one of them.

For #3 – There was no such luck for me finding an entire weekend (much less a day) to do my planning without interruption. You take the moments you can steal in the middle of the night if that is all you can find. This is one major reason why I’m still finishing up planning as the year has begun. My kids know I use up every bit of spare time on organizing and planning their school year, and they know that I’m OK with going slow the first week back to school… so no harm is done (except maybe me needing a vacation when school has just started). If I twitch a little, you’ll know why.

planner and binder detail

#4, 5, & 6 – The Book List and Lesson Plans for History. Technically, I was going to do MOH 1 & 2 last year and we ended up just finishing MOH 1. I already have the LP for 2 in Homeschool Tracker and have it printed in my Homeschool Binder, so that part was done. The part that isn’t done is me adding MOH III to the LP (or creating a new LP for it). I’ll probably do that over Christmas break since we are planning to be done with MOH II by week 15 of school, which falls just after Christmas holiday – the first or second week of January. We are breezing through because my kids have read through a lot of the literature for this time period because they did a Medieval British Lit course online with an instructor in England. I’m hoping we don’t have to re-read much.

As for the reading list, I’ve written it out in my spiral, typed it up for my homeschool group to ask if we can borrow a few books (the list is long), and Mo has been checking our FOUR local libraries around town to see if they have any of the books before we start checking Paperback Swap, Good Will, and Amazon. She’s doing the first 1/4th of the list now, and we’ll do it again in 6 weeks when we do our goals review.

The great thing was that for the first THREE lessons in MOH II, we only needed a newspaper and the Bible for the activities. On to the next 3 lessons Thursday! It is going to be perfect watching the IMAX Jerusalem movie at the Bob Bullock tomorrow – awesome timing!

#7 – updating my school binder! This was fun. Yes, I’m a geek. I pulled all the old things out of the binder, updated it with new printables, hole punched my loose lists and paperwork for this year, and got a lot of ideas as to what I still have left to organize by what I was pulling out that wasn’t relevant anymore. My BINDER (which I refer to as my “brain”) is in addition to my PLANNER. I’ve written about it many times (since it morphs over the years just like your own homeschool journey will).

Right now this is what I keep in my BINDER:

1. Personal Info Page (contains who the planner belongs to – phone numbers of important people, emails, birthdays, allergies)

2. 2 Years at a Glance calendar – just to see dates (nothing written on this)

3. Year at a Glance Planner Page (FOR FIELD TRIPS)

4. Year at a Glance Planner Page (FOR MOH/HISTORY PLANNING)

5. Year at a Glance Planner Page (FOR KINDERGARTEN)

6. Year at a Glance Planner Page (FOR PRESCHOOL)

7. ASSIGNMENT Section… I keep my Homeschool Tracker Lesson Plan (LP) for MOH II hole punched behind with a sticky tab indicating the page we are on, marked with dates and highlighting as we go along and do the assignments. In addition to my History plans, I’ll also be adding our English III course syllabus (expecting to add this soon), and probably the AOG Anatomy Physiology course syllabus, and a plan for our Bible Studies/Devotional Readings for the year. I don’t keep up with their Math syllabus because they use a program online right now.

9. PRESCHOOL/KINDER Section… includes Kinder/Preschool Plans for the year, First Day plans, last year’s preschool schedule. a list of preschool ideas I wrote down last year that I’ll probably use again this year, and articles I find helpful from other teachers of young kids. I’m going to make a list of Workstations and supplies for this section this week, too… for motor skills and helping the littlest Bee keep busy while we work. My big goal for this weekend is to get workstations set up so we can be moving full speed by next Monday.

10. BOOKS Section… includes MY personal book list, our MOH suggested additional reading book list, Ambleside Book Lists, Honors English/Lit book lists I found online to supplement with, Library information, etc.

11. MENU Section… meal planning helps, frequently used recipes, magazine pages I’ve ripped out with recipes, etc.

12. CIRCLE TIME Section… Circle Time Chart to help me plan out our weekly Circle Time (I keep these every week to have a record of all the things we talked about, the scriptures we memorized, and the poems we read). I also keep articles about Circle Time and Kendra Fletcher’s Circle Time ideas from her Circle Time e-book in this section.

13.  PRAYER Section… I used to keep a print out from the Old Schoolhouse Planner in this section that had an entire page for planning prayers (which I loved), but now my current planner (Apologia) has a weekly prayer/Bible page and I’m probably going to just use that for this school year. I change planners every year so I can use them all… I LOVE planners… and I’m enjoying getting to know this one. I also keep missionary updates, church memos, emails, and monthly prayer request mail-outs from favorite charities in this section.

14. TEACHER NOTES Section… Just what it sounds like. Lots of forms from Donna Young that I haven’t maximized in this section. Notes taken from great homeschool mom books… etc.

15. ROLODEX Section… does anyone even remember what a rolodex is? I keep address labels, stamps, homeschool co-op and church directories, my printed list of addresses and phone numbers from everyone in the world I might ever want to send a Christmas card to, my childrens’ pen pal list, and blank cards and stationary in this section.

16. FLY LADY/HOMEMAKING Section… I still refer to her chore lists, and a few old printed emails about house cleaning and holiday planning – even though I printed most of it back in 2002!

17. GARDEN Section… notes and planning ideas for what I’m planting (or allowing the weeds to choke out).

18. BLOG Section… which is very neglected, I might add. I’ve also added a tiny spot to my Planner this year to write down posts at the very bottom of each day’s column – and I think that will serve me much better than this section in my binder. I might even remove this or just keep review info here. It tends to disappear if I stick it in my file cabinet (out of sight is out of mind).

I’ve had a few requests for some planner pages, and after a few grueling hours, I’ve figured out how to attach them to this post for you. You’re welcome.

Blank 2014-15 Year at a Glance Schoolyear CalendarCircle Time Chart Blank Daily Schedule Blank Annual Attendance Chart Blank 4 Week KONOS Unit Planner Blank

I’ve got a Circle Time Planner, a Year at a Glance Planner, a 4-Week Konos Unit Study Planner, an Attendance Chart, and a Blank Weekly Schedule Chart. I used to have a page I used with Draw, Write Now as a template to print, too… and we don’t use those right now, but will be using them as soon as my little Kinder-boy learns to read. I’ll try to dig it out of digital purgatory and share them in another post in the near future.

If you use my templates, I’d love it if you drop a tip in my paypal jar. I need book money. And money to feed my stevia-laced dark chocolate habit.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with a quote from my planner this week that I adore:

“He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth – for God rather than for man – he is the parent that will be called wise at the last.” ~ J. C. Ryle

Need some homeschool planning encouragement and inspiration? Preschool and Elementary homeschool ideas? I’ve got a pinterest board dedicated to both.

Follow Spritti Bee’s board Homeschooling on Pinterest.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Almost Back to School Update. Here’s hoping our first week of school will be productive and amazing (yours, too if you started this week like me)!

Join me as I finish up our planning and preparing phase for 2014-15 back to school in this post series…

Here are the posts, linking up as I write them…

Almost Back to School Series Intro
Post 1: Starting with God
Post 2: Getting Organized
Post 3: Planning, Scheduling & Preparing (including printables)
Post 4: Homemaking Mostly Grain and Sugar Free Lunch Ideas
Post 5: 2014-15 School Year

Have an amazing school year!