I am definitely one of those people who needs to plan, for if I omit that crucial step, I am lost and wandering the rest of the school year. I don’t make hard and fast plans, our school is quite flexible. But I do like to know where we are going and be there by the end of the school year so that I can report to our Umbrella School that we have fulfilled our state requirements.
Most curriculum that you can purchase comes already laid out in lessons. I used to think in my early years of homeschooling (we began in 1991) that since the school year was 36 weeks long, we needed 180 days of each subject, every year. That is not however the case. What we need is enough lessons to use the curriculum 1 to 3 times per week.
So what you want to look at in your curriculum is how many lessons are offered and how you can divide them up over the course of 36 weeks.
For example: We have a Biology curriculum by John Holzman that contains 43 different chapters and topics. It is a High School level course so I combine some of the broader topics like The Plant Kingdom and The Animal Kingdom and then in general try to cover one topic per week with this curriculum. One topic per week in High School Biology usually does translate to 5 lessons per week! But that is the exception, not the rule. Most non-High School subjects only require 2-3 lessons per week.
I don’t think it is imperative that your students cover every topic every day. I have found that Math, Grammar or English and Reading are the only topics that need daily work. Other subjects can be studied 2 to 3 times per week.
Good ideas for schedules can be found at Simply Charlotte Mason.
When I set out to plan lessons for a subject, and I have divided the lessons into weekly groups as explained above, then I have to be sure I am teaching each lessons to its full potential. That’s pretty easy when you are using something like a math textbook or science textbook. But it gets a bit more complicated when you are using things like books, maps and worksheets.
The first thing you must do is to look through all your material for a particular subject and set some goals. What do you want your child to understand? What will help your child understand? Are there any extra materials you need to acquire for your child’s benefit? Once you have those broad goals set, you will need to break them down into small goals. If teaching your child about geography you might take several weeks to learn how to use a map and learn about longitude and latitude before moving on to identifying particular countries. Then you might take three lessons to make salt maps.
Be sure to write all your ideas and plans down so that you can tweak and modify them later.
One of the easier subjects to plan without a set curriculum is vocabulary, spelling and copywriting. I use Spelling Wisdom for all three of those subjects. Once a week I dictate a passage from the book. The student writes down the passage as I dictate. Words that are misspelled are added to a spelling list which is studied. Later in the week when the student is confident he can spell all the words, I dictate the passage again. Any misspelled words are studied again. We don’t move on too quickly to the next passage until he can spell all the words correctly.
For vocabulary use, we study the words. The student copies the work carefully and practices writing the word in sentences of his own.
In what areas do you struggle with lesson planning? Are there some subjects that you need help with planning? Lets see if we can put our heads together and find some answers!