Tag Archives: planning

Doing What is Next (planning/record keeping) ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017

Doing What Is Next record keeping and planning

Today’s topic: planning. I am a minimalist planner. Part is me rebelling from when I had to write music education lesson plans on a general classroom format every week. Part of the reason is that when I plan, I overplan. Part is that we follow rabbit trails so often and so easily that I hate having to mark things out in my planner and rewrite it with what we actually did. Minimalist planning is definitely where my groove is for planning.

My favorite planner

I am a paper planner person (say that 3 times fast!). I like my printed planner so that I can jot things down and don’t have to have access to the computer to know what to do or what comes next. I create a general schedule and then we go for it. I expect us to do “the next thing” in whatever curriculum we are working on. In math – next lesson. In science – read to the next set of questions. In history – the next project. Just do what is next. For me, that means I don’t need to write out detail-by-detail what lesson comes on what day. We just do what is next.

weekly plan page

And I write it down after we do it. When the math lesson is completed, I write it down in my planner that it was done. When the story is shared, I note it. When the project is presented, I write it. Each child has a color and I write their completed assignments in their color. And red or green means it was a family activity/project. Easy-peasy.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t read ahead or look at the curriculum or decide what we student checklist with explanationare going to do. It just means I don’t schedule each lesson out. And, it means that I am placing more responsibility on the girls to know and do what they are supposed to. Each year, they are a bit more responsible for their own learning. Miss E and Miss J each want their own person checklist for their week, so we use a simple chart in a spiral for that.

I am adding a bit of a twist for myself this year, though. Miss E is in 8th grade and some of the work she is doing will count towards her high school credits – sign language 3 and Fascinating Chemistry are two courses that will be going on her high school transcript. So, I am keeping tabs a bit closer on those, noting hours/time spent and grading the work and making her take all scheduled tests.

We are in Texas, which does not require any reporting for each year, so while I do grade projects and math assignments and such, I do not keep strict grades for the girls. I keep their work from year to year and I keep my planner as documentation of what was completed. For us, this is a good balance and documentation.

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017Looking for more ideas? Visit the others participating in the Homeschool Review Crew  Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017.

Jennifer – Dear Homeschooler

Jodi – Insane in the Mombrain

Karen – Tots and Me…Growing Up Together

Kelly – God’s Writer Girl

Kellyann – Walking Home …

Kemi  – Homemaking Organized

Kirsten – Doodle Mom’s Homeschooling Life

Kristi – Classically Quirky Learning

Planning? or Tracking? – Our Way

I enjoy planning. Well, I enjoy planning for unit studies and finding curriculum. I really like unit studies and all the research and reading I get to do to prepare.

But the day-to-day school stuff? Yea. Not so much. Sometimes I feel like I am writing the same thing over. And over. And over.

I do our day-to-day planning stuff a whole lot differently than most people seem to who write about it. I don’t do the whole “sit down for a couple of day and plan out your whole year for every student and every subject.” Number one – I am not that organized. Number two – we change things to fit the girls or the subject or the attitude way too often for that to work for us. Number three – I just don’t want to!

So what do I do?

This year, I spent a lot of time thinking. Pondering schedules and subjects and curriculum. All of this was done without any pencil or paper and without sitting surrounded by curriculum books. I just thought. About what has worked. About what has not worked. About each of the girls and their personalities. About where I wanted to push harder and where I wanted to back off.

Then, At Home Dad and I spent a comfortable Sunday afternoon sitting on the porch and discussing our plans and goals and ideas. I jotted down ideas while we talked and we sketched out weekly schedules for each of the girls. (You can find those here.) We also did some planning for the next 5 years – yes 5 years, from the lady who hates day-to-day planning – for Miss E. We wanted to make sure we had covered the initial thought process for her as she enters high school levels in the next couple of years.

weekly plan page

Days of the week go across the top; subjects go down the side; each day will have the list of what is to be done for each subject and I’ll put a check next to what gets accomplished with each girls’ color (Miss E is blue, Miss L is pink, and Miss J is purple).


Once we had our weekly schedule in place, it helps me know what to do for a day-to-day basis. I am going to be writing out weekly plans and those will be pretty easy to do since I have our schedules. I will be writing down on each day and subject how much will get done but it will be written in pencil so it can change as things actually happen. Because, you know, life happens and that means we don’t follow a script. I allow lots of flexibility in the plan.

When we reviewed the Hey Mama! Planner a bit ago, I shared about how I keep track of our day-to-day stuff at the monthly level. I keep track of read-alouds, audiobooks, videos that pertain to studies, volunteer work, and field trips. I also keep track of school days and other activities that we do on a monthly calendar. We are not required in our state to track or report these things but it is always good to do so, even when not legally required.

And, since life is learning, don’t forget to track Bible classes, worship services, dance or other sports, library visits, art projects or classes,  camps, and all those other things that happen to enhance life experiences. These are all important learning opportunities that help shape and guide our children to become who God has designed them to be.

We consider anything worthy of our time to be a learning opportunity. Learning is a lifestyle and as such, many of the moments when learning happens are unplanned. So don’t forget to go back and keep track. When you have a lifestyle of learning, planning is not always proactive. And that is okay. Many times it is a reactive activity, pulling out the planner (maybe a better name is tracker!) and writing down what has already happened.

Remember, keep track and plan for what is legally required but more importantly, do what works for your family. Know what YOU need and find the way that it works best.

At Home.


This post is the second in a series for 5 Days of Homeschooling 101 and is part of the TOS Review Crew Blog Hop.5 Days of Homeschool 101
Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday – Planning
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

 Some of my blogging friends participating in this blog hop are:
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Linsey @ Lille Punkin’
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama
Megan @ My Full Heart
Meghan @ Quiet In the Chaos

To read more please visit the Review Crew post or the link up to read more on planning and to get a whole bucket full of idea to help you plan. If the linky doesn’t show up below, please just head over to the Review Crew post to find the link up.


Budgeting in the Homeschool

Budgeting in the Homeschool


It is a word that many people fear.

We shouldn’t though. We should try to embrace it and think of it as freedom rather than submission to a number or slavery to a given amount.

I thought I would share a little bit about out budgeting because it directly impacts our education. And, just as a side note, we have one income. No additional income sources. Budgeting is the reason this is not a problem.

We work from a combination of a zero line budget and an income based budget. We start with the lowest amount possible that will be received as income. We deduct all possible spending, including giving at church, insurance, savings, and all utility/house bills. That leaves us with what lots of people call “disposable income.” This is where we move to a zero line budget.

I don’t know the real name of it but this is what we call it. We assume that we will spend $0. Nothing. From there, if we do need to spend something. We look at the checkbook to see if there is money there for it. We write everything down in the checkbook. Just as if we were writing checks rather than using online bill payments or debit/credit cards. We try not to spend money. It is simple as that.

How this impacts our education  is really quite simple. If we need money for something, we spend it. But, since we are working from “only spend what you have” rather than “how much can I spend” or “I have budgeted $550 for curriculum”, I can purchase what we need for unit or a book that will help us out. Honestly, I don’t know what I spent on homeschool needs last school year because it was what we needed. It was not an outrageous amount. It probably was not even $550. But, it benefitted the girls by giving them what they needed to learn what they were interested in.

Education does not have to be a big budget item. Regardless of how it is painted in the world, it does not require tons of money to teach your children what they need to be successful in life. Sure, it is a joy to be able to just go out and purchase whatever big money item you might want like a telescope for astronomy or a microscope for biology. It would be nice to be able to travel the world. Those are definitely things to shoot for and plan for (see the savings comment made in passing above – that is what that savings is for!) but education is about life.

If you are looking for a more specific post about how to lower your costs for education, check out my post on 10 of Our Favorite Ways to Save Money Homeschooling. You could also read about Teacher Discounts.

At Home.

This post is part of a round-up of budgeting ideas for the homeschool, brought to you by the TOS Review Crew. Click below to see what other budgeting ideas we have for you. (post is live on Friday, August 5, 2016)

Homeschool Budgeting 101

Hey Mama! Planner ~ a TOS review

planner cover 

I am a paper planner kind of girl. I need my Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 to keep track of my school life and plans. I was so happy when I received one to review from The Old Schoolhouse (TOS – yep, the parent company of the Review Crew).

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 ReviewI don’t really know where to start with what I really like about my Hey Mama! Planner. The Hey Mama! Planner has almost 200 pages to work with. Printed in beautiful sepia and black tones throughout, it is bound with a metal spiral binding. The covers are glossy, printed cardstock.

I think what I like best is the constant encouragement found within the pages of the planner. Right off the bat, there is a Hey Mama! letter of encouragement. These Hey Mama! letters are found at the start of each monthly planning section to remind you of the important job you have but more that God created you just as you are to be THE perfect mama for your little ones (and big ones). Every single month.

Table of Contents


So what all is in the planner? Well, everything I need and so much more. There are so many calendars and forms that I don’t need anything else for planning. Well, maybe some blank paper but that’s a different story. Calendars, weekly planning pages, goal pages for months, semesters and years, attendance charts, contact pages, curriculum lists, and a whole bundle of other lists for topics of interest or dates needed. Chock full!

The weekly planning pages are probably the main portion of the planner for me. I use those day in and day out. I am saying use because this is the planner I currently have. There are 36 weeks worth of pages. Since we tend to do more school than this that I want to keep track of, it is permissible to copy additional pages to keep with the planner. I would love to see this planner include 52 weeks since so many homeschoolers educate all year round, even if it isn’t full-blown school mode.weekly plan page

These pages are my mainstay and help us track what we are doing and/or what needs to be done. The pages are set up in table format, with 6 across the top and 8 down the side. One of each of those is for labeling, in my opinion, leaving 5 across the top and 7 down the side. This means I label and date the top ones Monday through Friday, Down the side, I label the subjects that we are working on. When I am writing in what is happing or planned, I use three colored pens: blue for E, pink for L, and purple for J. There is actually a fourth (red) that I use to show things that are the same for all three girls. This allows me to fully utilize the space on the pages.

Our monthly notes page

I also use the monthly planning pages a lot. A LOT! On the notes for the month, I keep track of our read-alouds, any videos we watch, all of our field trips, any reviews and due dates we have going on, and all of the volunteer work that happens. To show you this in actual use, I am showing you the May 2016 pages for our family. **For the 2015-2016 school year, there was a digital version of the Hey Mama! Planner available with a membership through SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I printed off my copy of the Hey Mama! Planner and had it bound locally. These pages look the same in the 2016-2017 printed Hey Mama! Planner. Well, with the right dates. 🙂


our monthly planning pagetracking my reading

One other thing that I do that is really personal for me: I keep track of the books I am reading just for me. I do that above the Hey Mama! letter each month. This tracks the fact that I am doing something just for me but also encourages me to keep it up.

I am currently working on setting up goals for next school year. The goal planning pages are going to be a big help for that. There is a monthly page, a semester page, and a yearly page, plus a curriculum planning page. There are 4 or 5 copies of each of these in the Hey Mama! Planner. Some families have need of more copies of this than are included; it is okay to copy the page if you need more.

With Miss E in middle school now, we are looking towards what she will need by the time she graduates. These planning pages are going to be a huge help for that, with a couple of pages at the end dedicated to helping create an academic transcript. Again, if you have more than one high schooler or are planning for more than one, you may need to make a copy of the transcript page. (You could also print it off of SchoolhouseTeacher.com if you have a membership.)

Hey Mama letter and monthly notes page

I don’t know many people who can get along without planning so why not use a planner that is full of encouragement and helps. The Old Schoolhouse has created a wonderful planner with the Hey Mama! Planner, full of encouragement with the Hey Mama! letters and Bible verses throughout. This is a fantastic resource that I highly recommend and have used for two years now. I use mine all the time and I can’t imagine using anything else.

I have a coupon for you to order your own Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017! Visit TheOldSchoolhouse.com and order the printed planner using the code CREWCODE for $10 off. What a fantastic deal! If you live in the U.S., that would give this a cost of $19. The coupon is good until July 15, 2016, but if you are like me and put it off, you forget. So – Order yours today.

**There is also a digital download version available. The coupon is NOT good on the download version.**

Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017
At Home.


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Read more Crew reviews from over 100 others who have used the Hey Mama! Planner.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review Crew Disclaimer

Ultimate Homeschool Planner ~ a TOS review

I am a paper planner person. When I got the opportunity to review a planner from Apologia Educational Ministries, I was happy to. There is nothing better to me than the feeling of writing on a paper with your thoughts and having them appear. I like the feeling of putting pen or pencil to paper. It is a pleasing thing for me and on a planner that is pretty, such as The Ultimate Homeschool Planner – Orange Cover by Debra Bell – well, that is just a joy.orange cover planner

When I received my copy of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, I spent some time just browsing through it. I looked at the pages and the boxes and all that is in the planner. As I always do, I felt a bit overwhelmed and knew I needed to go read up on the suggested uses to get an idea of how it was designed. The example pages were really helpful and I was ready to get started.table of contents

Debra Bell is familiar with the needs of homeschooling moms because she is one herself. She set this planner up with maximum flexibility. I like flexibility. I like that this is set up in a way that I can decide how it will work best for my family, yet still have some foundation for each page that I don’t have to create. The pages can be used in a couple of different ways and the calendar pages are undated so you can adjust them to your family’s schedule.

Throughout the planner, you will find that Debra has set this up to find a focus that relies on God. There are Bible verses and quotes throughout the planner. Each monthly planner has both a Bible verse and a quote of encouragement or beauty. The weekly planner pages have several ways in which the focus on God is presented. There is a reminder of the Lord’s Day, a place to write your Bible plan for the week, a place for a Battle plan and fighter verse for the week, a place to write about hospitality and outreach. Additionally the weekly planner has places to write your week’s evidences of God’s graces and memorable moments and achievements.

weekly planning pages

The whole purpose of a planner is to plan, right? Well, I often forget this. Debra reminds us of this need for planning in several good, helpful ways. The user’s guide at the beginning guides us through a planning retreat to help us get the entire year planned out and going right. She also helps explain a monthly planning session and weekly planning sessions. She also helps me see how to include my older students in mini-planning sessions on Monday and Friday.

I plan to incorporate these in our schedule once we begin after Christmas break. This gives me some time to get myself together and it will allow us to implement it without the interruptions of holidays and school breaks due to travel. I hope to fully implement her planning schedule, including a plan for the entire year of 2016, at the new year. This in particular has been a helpful insight for me. I am not a planner by nature so this was good information to have written down with examples.


There are a couple of things that I want to point out.

  • As our oldest student gets towards high school, we are beginning to think in that direction. The planner advertises that it has a High School Planning Guide. I was very disappointed in this. It was not what I would call a planning guide. It was an example of how to fill out a form in this book that has to do with high school plans. But, it was not a guide. For information, you have to purchase a different book.
  • There are only 48 weeks in the planner. Since we are talking about planning an entire year, including breaks, I would prefer to have a planner that has 52 weeks in it so that I can mark the off ones as well and add in anything educational we do during that time. If I understand it correctly, one of the other color options has 52 weeks in it. The orange cover does not.

All in all, this is a lovely planner with some good information. Definitely worth a look for those of you who, like me, prefer to write down what is going on the “old fashioned” way.

At Home.

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