From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


9/16/2010 10:00:48 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
September 2010 -- Lesson Planning: Strategy for Success

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Dear Friends,

There's a saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Lesson
planning is just determining what you want to cover in the school year
and laying out a framework to accomplish those goals: a strategy for
homeschool success. Some parents will be more detailed than others,
but having an overview or rough sketch in writing puts your priorities
in black and white and lets you see what you may have inadvertently
left out.

Whether you use a prepackaged curriculum or an eclectic approach, a
written plan can help you operate more on "autopilot." If your kids
can read on their own, include them! Whether you let them look through
the lesson plan book, or set out work boxes or learning stations for
them, they're on their way to taking some personal responsibility in
their own lesson management. A lesson plan also gives you a timeline
to measure against as the year progresses. And if you're in a state
requiring the submission of lesson plans, or a record of what you've
accomplished, this puts you ahead of the game.

Different approaches to lesson planning

Of course, families will want to take into consideration any specific
statutory record keeping or subject requirements for their states, so
these are some general ideas. I liked having a lesson planning book,
and once my children could read, each child had her own lesson book to
help her learn basic time management. You might use one book for
several children, or you can make your own sheets on the computer, or
use index cards, a white board, a spiral notebook, or even a computer
to-do list. You could even modify the card chart in a recent Early Years article
to hold school assignments, readings, memory verses, and more. The
point is to have a framework in writing that will help you feel
accountable--even if only to yourself--and to give you a standard
against which to measure as the year progresses (so you're measuring
against the goals that God has given you, not your neighbor or the
support group leader).

Some people are most comfortable writing their plans out in detail.
For example, "XYZ text, page 93, prepositional phrases exercises
1-12." Others might put under English, "page 93, 1-12." Still others
may just do what comes next in the book, and then just log it
afterward, journal style. Some moms even have their older kids log
what they did.

An alternative to the standard lesson plan book is the workbox or
workfile approach; this can be
especially effective for younger children or especially distractible
children. Instead of writing each assignment in a "box" on a page, you
physically put the work for each assignment in a separate box, such as
a clear plastic shoe box or a stacking drawer unit, or even a hanging
file or envelope system. Some parents use this approach all the way into the upper
grades: you could teach them to concentrate on the work in one literal
box at a time, then (the next year or so) put the papers with
assignments in the boxes, then transition into writing the assignments
in a lesson planning book.

Whatever system you use, it is helpful for the children to have an
overview of the expectations. They are more likely to be motivated to
finish their work if they know there is a "finish." When Mom is the
only one privy to the assignments, it can feel to a child that
finishing one assignment just means getting another one heaped on (and
that sure isn't very motivating!). Seeing a manageable (read: finite)
number of workboxes, or lesson plan book "squares" for the day, or
assignments on the white board gives them hope that there can be an
end in sight (for the day, anyway!), and possibly incentive to work

What should you include?

What do you want to accomplish this year? And what tools will help you
to achieve those goals? Choosing your curriculum and lesson planning are sort of
the roadmap for getting from where you are, to where you want to be,
with the actual curriculum itself likened to your mode of
transportation. An airplane will get you where you want to go fast,
while an RV is good for leisurely trips.

A few years ago, we drove from Virginia to Arizona on a tight deadline
for an event, so we drove straight there, no time for sightseeing. But
on the way back, we had almost two weeks, so we stopped at landmarks
in at least 10 states and had a great family time, just enjoying the
trip and enjoying each other's company.

It's the same with homeschooling: If your goal this year is to catch
up a child who has lagged a little, you'll take the direct route--the
airplane--covering the basic skills areas of math and language and
character/Bible, and then add
the content areas of history and science as time allows. Once you feel
more comfortable that you are where you want to be on your timetable,
you can start cruising or sight-seeing, taking more time to enjoy the
homeschool journey, adding extras to help you meet more advanced,
delight-directed goals.

Resources such as What Your Child Needs to Know When or Learning Objectives for
Grades K-8 can help you feel
more confident that you aren't leaving major gaps in your child's
academic education.

Build in Some "Down" Time

Plan to succeed by recognizing that there will be tough days, sick
days, good weather days, catch-up laundry days, and so on. If you have
a weekly co-op day or recurring medical appointments, plan a lighter
academic load that day. Consider adding an educational games day every
few weeks, which can be used for educational play if your children are
on track, or catching up if you feel you need that. For example, I
planned math lessons (our toughest subject) on a four-day schedule,
with math games on Friday; if the girls were caught up, they played a
math game on Friday, but could use that day to finish any lagging
lessons or corrections, if needed.

And if you need an occasional catch-up-the-house day, remember that
organization, sorting, and classification are math, science, and
language arts skills!

Be Realistic

(1) Think "overview."
(2) Decide on your basic timeframe, keeping in mind any legal
requirements for your state. (I found it workable to plan for eight
weeks on, one week off, for five cycles, with four-week breaks in
December and July.)
(3) Look over the curriculum: What will you cover and what can you
skip? Your curriculum is a tool, not your master, and you want to
remember to include life skills and character training, as well as
(4) Divide your materials by the number of weeks or days, for a rough

"A Day in Our Homeschool" will
give you a peek into the typical day of several other homeschool
families (did I really just say typical and homeschool day in the same
sentence?), and you'll find a few sample plans and routines in our
lesson planning section.

While you don't want to be a slave to your schedules or plans, you'll
want to be diligent and do your best to meet your reasonable goals. Do
you have realistic expectations, or have you over-planned? Have you
expected too much in too short a time? Have you underestimated the
time to master a skill or complete an assignment? Or maybe you had
realistic plans, but life broadsided your homeschool and you are
totally overwhelmed.

My first year, I thought I would be ultra-organized, so I
lesson-planned the entire year in August. In pen. So what happened
when the first child didn't grasp the math concept as quickly as we'd
anticipated? Right--we "got behind" (or we thought we did--maybe
you've been there, too?). So that threw my whole plan off.

This panic taught me to have an overall goal of what I wanted us to
cover each year, but to divide that up and put it in writing only
eight weeks at a time. After all, I can do anything for eight weeks!
At the end of the eight weeks, I would evaluate our progress and,
during the week off, would write down the plan for the next eight
weeks. I learned to get more specific in smaller time chunks, so this
motivated me to regularly evaluate our materials, our methods, and any
character issues. Rather than being in bondage to a rigid schedule, we
found security in a basic routine that helped me to transition through
my day without having to make all the little decisions all over again.

The Real Lesson in Lesson Planning
Plan prayerfully and realistically, execute those plans diligently,
but hold them loosely. "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD
directeth his steps." (Proverbs 16:9) What we consider interruptions
to "our" day, God often intends as the real purpose for the day!

Planning in pencil,


Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator
Homeschooling Preschool thru Middle School



"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."
(Proverbs 16:3 NIV)

A few lesson-planning resources:

"Lesson Planning" (article and resources at HSLDA's Homeschooling thru
the Early Years)

"Planning Tips" by Kara Murphy (article)

A Day in Our Homeschool

Teaching Home e-newsletter #250: Back-to-Homeschool, Part 3

What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson

Learning Objectives for Grades K-8: Hewitt scope & sequence checklist
for various subjects per grade

Edu-Track computer software

Homeschool Minder

The Practical Planner for Home Education

My Homeschool Planner

Portions of this newsletter are excerpted from
"Plan to Learn"--Homeschool Heartbeat series on lesson planning

-> Extreme makeovers are for extreme circumstances...

Most homeschools don't need an extreme makeover, but there is
something to be said for attention to detail and recognition of
accomplishments. Watch the media and you'll soon see that not
everyone wants home educators and homeschooling to look good.
HSLDA works hard to shed light on the good work of home educators
so it's obvious that we don't need someone "making-over" our
homeschools. Join HSLDA and help us show the world that we're fine
as we are . . . thank you!

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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