My homeschool is a bit two-faced. If you see my planning books, you’d think it was super regimented and structured. If you see our day, you’d think we fly by the seat of our pants and have no structure to our lives. To me, this is perfect. We have a plan, but that plan provides freedom for our days.
I recently shared about my method in a homeschooling Facebook group and the mums there were blown away with the simplicity and ease of it so I figured I’d share it here too. My secret is twofold. Rhythm and my master checklist.
Rhythm is a bit of a trendy thing in the homeschool world at the moment, but that’s because it works. We have been following the same rhythm for 3 years now… because it works. Of course, things have been tweaked. Adventure Day was Friday, then Wednesday, then Thursday and now Friday again, but we have always kept our Adventure Day… because it works. Poetry teatime is sometimes Poetry lunchtime and sometimes Poetry café treat but it has always been Poetry + Yummies… because it works. School work has been called Tablework, Schoolwork, it has been long, it has been short, it has been at the dining table, and outside, but it is always in the mornings after breakfast… because it works. Our rhythm is the natural, joyous way our days run when they feel seamless. Somewhere I have it written down, but I don’t need to refer to it because we all just know it… because it works.
My master checklist is the second pillar upholding our days. I love Ambleside Online and am so thankful for the plans that they have provided there. I also acknowledge that slowly working through a number of books is a valuable thing. But the tension between wanting to check the boxes and being flexible with our days was a struggle for me last year. Last year, with our love of adventure and freedom, and a very intense 3yo in the mix, we could not follow the schedule. We got through most of the books, but at our own pace, but my planning books went untouched for the second half of the year because it was just too hard. This year, I removed the schedule and went back to my old (pre-Ambleside) master checklist method.
I don’t have termly plans, weekly plans or daily plans. I don’t schedule readings or units. I have one master checklist. I simply list all the books and curriculums that we plan to work through and assign them a checkbox. Ones that need to be worked through slowly have a checkbox for each chapter/unit. This, and a reading log. A few times a term, I check things off. It’s 3 pages long. I can see at a glance where we are up to with maths, history, spelling, writing etc. I can see what books we have read from our list. I can see what we haven’t done yet. If we decide to drop spelling for a while and focus on maths, I can see that. I can add books or curriculums easily.
I do not have to follow a schedule. I do not feel guilty if we didn’t get to a reading on Tuesday, or during week 7. It doesn’t matter if we chose to binge on a book or topic because we’re loving it and neglect another for a while. I do not feel like I’m drowning in plans. This master checklist allows me to have a thorough and quite hefty plan but also allows me to be completely flexible on the day.
Practically, we have a shelf next to the dining table with all our current books and resources. A the start of school time I chose from the shelf what I would like to cover that day. Sometimes when I am updated my checklist, I will reorganise the shelf and add or remove books. My boys are not doing their work independently so at this stage, this works for us.
The bonus of this planning method, is that it is also a simple recording method. You could even date the checkboxes if required. For me, this checklist, along with our photos and some samples, is sufficient for our state requirements.
How do your plans look?