10 Tips for New Homeschoolers Attending a Homeschool Convention

It’s homeschool convention time, aka homeschool Black Friday!

All around the country homeschool conventions are popping up full of the newest curriculum and educational resources available.  Most have tons of classes and speakers, and they can be a great place to begin when you are starting your homeschool journey.  However, thousands of square feet of convention hall full of hundreds of publishers can also be incredibly overwhelming.  So I thought I’d share my 10 tips for new homeschoolers attending their first homeschool convention.

homeschool convention tips Homeschool Convention Top Ten Tips:

  1. Do a little research before you go. My biggest piece of advice is to get a general idea of what you think you are looking for in a curriculum, and then mark those booths that seem to be what you want.  You can even make a homeschool convention board on Pinterest to keep track of what you want to see. Start with these booths so that you’ll be sure to have enough time to see everything they have to offer.  Then decide what you like and dislike about the curriculum before exploring other booths.
  2. Keep an open mind. Once you’ve done your research, seen your top contenders, and determined what you like and don’t like about them, it’s time to branch out.  There’s usually one subject where I don’t feel strongly about any particular publisher.  If you feel that way too, then start there.  Go around to other booths that offer curriculum in that subject and do the same evaluation you did in #1.  If you keep an open mind, you might find that what you thought you wanted isn’t really what you end up getting.  I’ve found some great curriculum this way over the years.
  3. Attend classes. Most likely there will be classes at the homeschool convention for new homeschoolers, and these can be an invaluable source of information and encouragement.  Take notes so that you can reflect when you get home on all that you saw and heard.  Often publishers will also hold classes, and attending these can give you a better insight into that curriculum and whether or not it will work for your family.
  4. Set a budget for ‘extras.’ I know you think you will be able to resist all the cool offerings of educational resources and stick to just the books you need , but trust me, you’re going to find something that will just really get your kids interested in what you’re teaching, or be super fun, or make your life way easier.  Set a budget before you go for the little extras that you are going to find so that you can indulge but not break the bank.
  5. You can’t teach it all. While I’m sure there’s a homeschool family somewhere that has their kindergartener reading the New Testament in the original Greek while they decline their Latin and build robots for an MIT science competition, if you’re not that family it’s okay.  There is far more available than you will ever be able to teach.  Remember what your goals are for your homeschool, and resist the urge to try and do it all.  Do what’s right for your child and your family for this year.
  6. Focus on this year. I always like to get an idea while I’m at a homeschool convention of what I might want to teach in the future, but sometimes it’s hard to focus on the here and now.  Know what subjects you want to teach before you go, and try to limit yourself to those areas.  Keep a list in your convention brochure to keep you on task.
  7. Go more than one day. If it’s at all financially feasible, attend the convention for at least 2 days.  It’s almost impossible to go to all the classes and see all the booths you want in just 1 day, and that can also lead to impulse buying.  If you’re able to go for 2 days, spend the first gathering information, and then when you get back to the hotel go over it again.
  8. Don’t buy anything on day 1. If you are able to go for more than a day, your wallet will thank you for waiting until the 2nd day before buying anything.  Mark your convention program with the booths you want to purchase from and how much the items are.  This gives you time to get some perspective and add up the costs of what you think you want.  That way on day 2 you can go straight to the booth and make your purchases, giving you a better chance of sticking to your budget.
  9. Collect cards and flyers for later. If you see a really great booth that has something you know you might want later or for another school year, grab a card and a flyer to bring home.  You can keep these in a file so that when you go to plan the next school year you have them.  My favorite thing to do is to look up the websites when I get home and pin them to my Pinterest boards.  Then I can access them whenever I need them and they can stay organized by subject.
  10. Breathe. There’s a lot of good stuff out there.  You’ll never be able to teach it all.  Don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged by that.  You are going to do amazing, and curriculum is just a tool to help you explore God’s creation.  There’s no need to worry about what others are doing – they don’t have your kids or your circumstances.  Take a deep breath and enjoy this remarkable journey of educating your kids.  It’s gonna be alright!

5 places to store homeschool supplies when you don’t have a schoolroom

Homeschool storage

If you’re anything like me, when you cruise around Pinterest you drool over some of the adorable homeschool rooms people have set up in their house.  Complete with world maps, cute painted desk chairs, and color coded art supply organization, it seems as though these rooms would make any kid love to learn.  The reality for most of us is that our “school room” doubles as the breakfast nook, dining room, or living room.  And while I did have a balloon model of the solar system that the kids created hanging on my breakfast nook window for a couple of weeks once, dedicating the decor of my main living areas to maps and timelines just isn’t going to happen.

For us, the kitchen table is where school takes place.  I tried once to use our spare bedroom as a classroom, but it’s upstairs and just didn’t work for me.  The kitchen table is convenient, large enough for the kids to spread out, and best of all, it’s on the 1st floor. 🙂  The only problem with it is that I hate clutter.  I can’t stand to have things out on my countertops that aren’t making coffee or decorative, and where possible I prefer things to be behind closed doors.  That makes finding a place for all the art supplies, experiment kits, school books, teacher manuals, paper, pens, and pencils a real challenge.  Homeschool supplies can require a lot of storage. However, in my desperation to keep everything put away yet still convenient, I managed to find lots of nooks and crannies to squirrel things away.  I bet if you started looking around, you can find the same types of spaces in your own home.

Here are the five places I keep our homeschool things.  All are right by our kitchen table, and took just a little re-arranging to make them work.  I hope they inspire you to get creative with your space (at least until you can get the color coded art supply organizers and cute little painted desks)/  😉

spare shelf for teacher manuals A spare shelf in a kitchen cabinet

I cleared out some old cake decorating supplies that I wasn’t using anymore and was able to consolidate them down to less than half of the cabinet.  This left me with quite a bit of room to keep all of my teacher’s manuals.

 

 

Inexpensive end tables

Our kitchen nook has no room to store any of the kids books.  It is open to our living room, which seemed the next logical place to store them, but we don’t have any bookshelves or tall storage that would work.  I went shopping at our local Sauder and found these end tables that were perfect for holding lots of books.  Target, Walmart, and consignment furniture stores are also great places to look for items like these.  I bought one for each kid and have them in 2 places in the living room.  I love these because they are deep enough to hold their big binders, they have a shelf that’s adjustable to give us storage for laptops and library books, and they have a drawer to hold even more supplies.  We use the drawers to hold notebook paper and art supplies like colored pencils and markers.

Now you see them….

…Now you don’t!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A spare kitchen drawer

I had our serving pieces and knives for our silverware in the drawer closest to the table.  I found that without much trouble I could incorporate those into the other drawers in the kitchen and free this one.  I used the existing silverware organizer I had in there to separate our pens, highlighters, pencils, mechanical pencils, scissors, protractors, compass, and erasers.  The kids can reach this drawer while still sitting at the table so it’s super convenient.

silverware organizer for pen storage

Behind decorative items

I have this copper plate on a stand and a decorative box that I keep on the end of the counter by the table. It’s the perfect place to hide the ugly pencil sharpener and hole punch, and there’s an outlet back there too, so we can keep the sharpener plugged in.  It helps that they are black like the countertop, but even if they weren’t, you can’t see them hiding back there unless you go looking.

Don't see them?

Don’t see them?

Here they are!

Here they are!

In existing furniture

This lovely dresser has been in our kitchen for 10 years holding dish towels, aprons, and my collection of individual salt and pepper shakers.  It has 2 deep drawers in the bottom that were mostly a random collection of junk.  After cleaning and purging, I was able to clear out both drawers and put them to better use.  In the top one we keep our science experiment supplies (I love the ones from Nature’s Workshop that provide almost everything you need for Apologia’s Sciences.)  In the bottom drawer we keep our larger art supplies like construction paper, popsicle sticks, and felt.

Deep drawers work perfect for the science supplies.

Deep drawers work perfect for the science supplies.

 

What creative ways do you have to hide your homeschool things in plain sight?

Semester 1 Review

As I mentioned in my post on homeschool planning for this year, we are trying a new schedule of 6 semesters that are 6 weeks long each. This past Friday we completed semester 1, and are taking the coming week off. As I am fine tuning the plan for semester 2, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what worked and what didn’t.

20130821-093413.jpg

What’s not working so well:
1. History fun activities. I have pulled together a list of fun Konos and Pinterest inspired activities to go along with our history lessons. I even planned out ahead of time what activities we would do each week for the whole semester. Where things fell apart was that I didn’t make a master list of items we would need to complete these activities, so we had to skip many of them. This semester I am going to make a master list and gather up all of the non=perishable supplies now. Then I am going to add a list for the week in my planner for the perishables that I need to get at the store. Hopefully this will keep me on track.

2. Schedule consistency. Since both of my kiddos are in middle school this year, I have been giving them a little more leeway in their schedules and assignments. For example, in my daughter’s planner, I have 2 subjects where I give her weekly assignments, and it’s up to her to determine how much to do each day. That’s been working out great, but we have not been consistent with our morning schedules, and that has led to problems. For this next semester, I am going to have them do their daily chore in the morning (previously they did it in the afternoons), and then I am going to spend focused time with each of them on their more challenging subjects. I am setting up a message on my phone to alert people who call me for work that I am unavailable during this time, so that work won’t distract from our focus.

3. Writing. I thought our lessons were going to yield more writing than they have, and I’m not happy with the way that has gone. For this next semester, I am going to add in additional writing assignments that reinforce what we are learning in our IEW program. Note: I don’t believe in writing just for writing’s sake, but I do think practice is important, so I’d like to give them more opportunities to do so – a paragraph at a time.

What’s going well:
1. Auditory spelling. I can’t be more happy with the results I’m seeing with our new spelling program. I plan on writing a full review later this week.

2. Our new book cabinets. I purchased inexpensive cabinets to store our homeschool books and binders in this year, and they are working great. The kids are able to easily access what they need, and I don’t have homeschool flotsam spread all over my kitchen and table.

3. Our history ‘text.’ You can read more about how we are doing American History in this post. The kids have enjoyed The History of Us more than I expected, and they are really learning the material. It’s been exciting to see them truly starting to put events together and understand how this great nation began. I’m looking forward to starting the next book!

For those of you who are a couple weeks in to the new year, what things are working for you?

Ten Criteria I Use For Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

I know many of you are in the middle of planning out next school year, which includes making final decisions on which homeschool curriculum to use. While every person does it differently, I do have people ask me frequently how I decide what we are going to use. Here are the top 10 criteria I look for when I choose our curriculum:

1. Does it have a Biblical worldview? Since everything was created by God, every subject we learn teaches us a little bit about God. I look for curriculum that reinforces a Biblical worldview and godly character whenever possible.

2. How does it approach/handle other worldviews? While I want the curriculum to be God-centered, I am very careful to make sure I am teaching other worldviews as well. The last thing I want is to teach my kids in a Christian ‘bubble’ where they know only our beliefs. It is extremely important to me that their education includes what others believe as well, and discussions on these beliefs. I lean towards material that is apologetic (gives a defense for Biblical truths) – especially for science and history.

3. How much preparation is involved? I work, and while I do have some time to fit in preparation before the lessons are presented, I found over the years that this causes problems for me if it’s too involved. I look for curriculum that has lower teacher prep, or prep that can be done all at once for the year (like gathering specific art supplies).

4. Is it written to the students? My goal in teaching is to create lifelong, independent learners. Each school year, I expect a little more independence and responsibility from the kids in an effort to teach them how to teach themselves. I find that material written to the students rather than to me is better for establishing this habit.

5. Does it have a mix of different learning styles? I have one visual and one auditory learner, but it’s important to me that they experience all the different learning styles frequently. While I try to tailor some things to their specific styles, in the real world you can’t always get information in the way you learn best.

6. Are the lessons varied in their presentation? I know it’s easy for me to get bored if every single lesson and assignment is just like the last, so I know my kids will too. I look for a mix of projects, reports, oral presentations, experiments, worksheets, etc. This obviously isn’t possible for every subject, but where we can mix it up we do.

7. Is there a good teacher’s manual? It’s been a long time since I was in middle school, and certain things like animal classification and finding the coefficient of friction have frankly left my brain. I always evaluate the answer keys or teacher manuals to make sure that there are sufficient explanations so that I can help them if they get stuck. (And I’m always surprised when I start to remember things I thought I had long forgot!)

8. Will it motivate them to learn? My daughter is very much like me when it comes to math. It’s practically impossible to get us excited about it. And my son likes writing about as much as he likes stepping on nails. I know they will never love every subject, but I do try to find curriculum that will at least not make it drudgery.

9. How does it fit in with their interests? Again, this doesn’t apply to every subject, but where I can I choose material that interests them. My equestrian daughter did a literature study using horse books a few years ago, and my surfer dude is doing a kids marine biology course for science next year.

10. Will this work through high school? For our core subjects, when possible I look to the publisher’s high school curriculum to see if I like it. I prefer not to jump from publisher to publisher each year, so if I like the high school material I do consider that when making my final decision. (I’m never married to any curriculum, but I do generally try to stick with what’s working).

 

See other posts like this at Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Homeschool High School Curriculum and Help from the Convention

I spent all day yesterday at a local homeschool convention. It was my first time attending any kind of homeschool specific convention. We were able to attend training, classes, and visit with vendors directly in the main hall.

Since I already purchased the majority of our curriculum, I wasn’t worried so much about making it to the vendor hall, but I’m glad I did. There were a lot of new vendors there with some really great products and ideas, especially for high school. Since I have a rising 8th grader (curriculum wise) I’m all about high school and college prep planning right now. Over the next few days I’ll discuss in more detail what I learned at my classes, but today I wanted to provide a round-up of some of the great services and products I saw.

High School Bible Curriculum:

Practical Proverbs: This book is also available for younger students. Organized by character traits, the students walk through the Proverbs and learn what they mean practically. For example, what does it mean to a teenager to guard their heart? How do they do that in real life?

Cat and Dog Theology: I got to talk to these guys for a while at the convention, and I just LOVE this curriculum! They manage to teach very convicting truths in a funny way using cats and dogs. It’s by no means light on the theology or juvenile, and I believe that adults would really enjoy and benefit from this as well. The first year is available now, and they are releasing the next 3 years’ worth of curriculum in a phased timeframe.

High School Planning:

I already knew how important creating a good and comprehensive high school transcript is, and I realize there are a lot of people who find this intimidating. There are several great ladies out there who have books that walk you step by step through this process. Two of which I have talked to personally are:

Barb at LearningAtHome.org
Joanne with Piecing Together the High School Puzzle

High School Curriculum:

I took a class sponsored by VideoText.com, and I like his emphasis on explaining the ‘why’ of mathematics as well as his ideas on the proper progression of math subjects. The math is taught via video, which can be more engaging to the student. I’m looking into this a little more, and I have it in my idea file to see if I’m going to stick with Life of Fred for high school math or switch.

I am working on our high school plan based on what my daughter wants to do for college, and I’ll share more of how I’m doing that in another post. In the meantime, I have created a Pinterest board where I am bookmarking these curriculum ideas to reference later.

My new method for keeping homeschool grades

Last year I really felt like I wanted to keep a cumulative record of the grades my kids were earning on the subjects where we have tests. I know looking forward to high school we will have to start keeping a GPA, and I thought that it was time to start that process in a small way. Mainly the kids were earning grades on spelling tests, grammar quizzes, reading comp quizzes, and science tests.

I set up a spreadsheet for each child with these subjects down the rows. I printed out the blank sheet and filled it in as we went. What I found was that I was not so great at stopping to figure the overall grade each semester. By the end of the year I had abandoned it because it wasn’t doing what I wanted.

I was having coffee with one of my best friends the other night (who is a wealth of information and great ideas!) and she showed me a new app she had downloaded for her iPad. Called Homeschool Helper, this cute little app is a planner and record book all in one. You can enter field trips, lesson plans, grades, attendance and more – all for $5.

Main screen

Main screen

I was a little hesitant to try any online planner – I had a bad experience last year when I bought an online homeschool planner that never did deliver what it was supposed to. However, after clicking around on my friend’s app, I was hooked.

I am much happier using my own paper lesson plans, but I am using this app for my grades. In about 15 minutes I was able to add both kiddos and all the subjects that I will be tracking grades for. You can even weight the different items so that tests hold more weight than quizzes and so forth.

Student snapshot screen

Student snapshot screen

The app includes a great help section that is full of videos for all your FAQs. Best of all, as soon as I enter the grades, it instantly gives me their cumulative grade. I just love it when technology does the hard work for me!

Note: these images are screenshots from my personal Homeschool Helper app. All copyrights are theirs.

For those of you who keep track of grades, how do you do it?

This post is linked to The Ultimate Homeschool Link Up at The Homeschool Village.

Our 2013-2014 Homeschool American History Curriculum

After MUCH searching, scanning, debating, and almost agonizing, I have finally decided to commit to a plan for our homeschool history curriculum for this coming year. We are taking a detour from our regularly scheduled Middle Ages history to do a whole year of American History. I know, I know, that’s not the Classical way, but I have a good reason. One of my best friends is moving just outside of D.C. in a few weeks, and I plan on wearing out the road between us with visits. Since we will be able to visit all the amazing historical sites that surround where she is going to live, I felt studying American history would just make sense. Seeing the inventions at Monticello aren’t as impressive if you don’t know the man behind them; and the bullet-riddled walls in Gettysburg don’t somber you if you don’t understand the horror of what happened there. Besides, the beauty of homeschooling is that detours from The Plan are usually where we find our best moments.

Note: some of these links are affiliate links.

I couldn’t find any textbooks or pre-written curriculum that were what I had in mind. I really love for history to be ‘3-D’ and relevant for my kids, and I just didn’t feel I was getting that with what I found out there. Then I stumbled upon this post from A Journey to Excellence where she discusses her idea for studying U.S. History using the America: The Story of Us videos from the History Channel. I always have some reservations of what the History Channel considers actual history, but since I am watching these first I can edit if I need to. I love her idea for using these videos, and I’m excited to incorporate them with our reading.

Next, I found where PBS.org has a video series based off of Joy Hakim’s books A History of US: Eleven-Volume Set: Paperback Set“>A History of US and started digging around for information on that book series.

I was able to borrow these books from our library to see if they were a good source to use as our main text, and I have to admit I was hooked right away. Each chapter is only 3-4 pages long and the books are filled with copies of original documents, advertisements, maps, and portraits. The whole book is written more like a story than a dry text, and she often pauses the historical details to get the reader to think about what life was really like for these people. In my opinion, she makes you feel like you are right there as the events are taking place.

I did read several comments from people on Amazon that said she writes with a liberal bias, especially in volume 10. I don’t think any historian writes without some sort of bias, and when I see something written in a way that contradicts our beliefs, I like to make it a matter of discussion with my kids and talk about why someone might believe that way, and why we disagree. There are a few chapters scattered over the 10 volumes that I didn’t like, and those we can just skip, but overall I felt she deals very fairly with the beliefs and events that shaped our nation, and does so in a very engaging way. I also saw that Sonlight uses these books in their curriculum, so I know that they are sound.

Now that I have my framework, here is my general plan for the year. Once I have the full year planned I will upload it. I’ve made it through the first 12 weeks so far.

Semester 1:  A History of US: Making Thirteen Colonies: 1600-1740 A History of US Book Two

Semester 2:  A History of US: From Colonies to Country: 1735-1791 A History of US Book Three

Semester 3:  A History of US: The New Nation: 1789-1850 A History of US Book Four and A History of US: Liberty for All?: 1820-1860 A History of US Book Five

Semester 4:  A History of US: War, Terrible War: 1855-1865 A History of US Book Six and A Reconstructing America: 1865-1890 A History of US Book 7

Semester 5:  A History of US: An Age of Extremes: 1880-1917 A History of US Book Eight and A History of US: War, Peace, and All That Jazz: 1918-1945 A History of US Book Nine

Semester 6:  A History of US: All the People: Since 1945 A History of US Book Ten (we probably won’t make it through the whole book, but I at least want to get through Vietnam).

I am planning out the specifics this way:

1. I take the book(s) for the semester and scan them to create a list of the main topic for each chapter. For the semesters where we are covering 2 books, I list only the chapters I want to use, trying to keep the total chapters around 42.
2. I have a list I made of all the Konos topics that relate to American History. Once I have my chapter topics, I read the Konos pages that relate to them to narrow down which of the activities I want to do.
3. Next I look through my American History pins and see which activities from there I want to do.
4. Finally, I decide which of the History Channel videos applies, and if there are any other movie clips I want to show. A Heart of Wisdom has compiled a wonderful timeline and link to movies for each era.

Now that I have all my goodies, I am writing out the weekly assignments. To cover 42 or so chapters in a 6 week semester, we have to read 7 a week. Since the chapters are short, this only amounts to 20-30 pages which I am breaking up into 2 days. The rest of the days we will do the Konos activities and watch the movies.

I also plan on adding in music for us to listen to and discuss that relates to the historical events we are studying, which will be a post in itself. I’m a huge fan of history, so this planning has got me really excited for the new school year! I’m hoping it will spark a love for history in the kiddos too!

How to use Pinterest for homeschool planning

Pinterest-homeschool-planning

Pinterest is perhaps my favorite part of the internet. While I enjoy the conveniences that come from having the world at my fingertips, there is something so happy and exciting about logging on to Pinterest. A whole site devoted to everything I want to try? Yes please! Plus, it allows me to indulge my need to organize – everything gets its own place. (And unlike my house, things stay put!) If you aren’t on Pinterest yet, I highly recommend it, especially for homeschoolers! Think of it as an online filing cabinet of ideas. I use Pinterest heavily all year round, (you can see my boards here) but it has become indispensable to me for planning my school year. There are many ways to plan with Pinterest, but here’s how I do it:

1. I create a board for the specific school year. This is where I pin links to the specific curriculum I am considering. I use the comments section to note anything particular about that book or program that I want to remember or research further. I create this board many months ahead of time and pin to it as I find things.

2. I have boards specific to each of our major school subjects. This is where I pin things throughout the year as I see them on other blogs or through surfing the Education section on Pinterest. Sometimes I don’t read the whole post, but I pin it anyway for future reference.

3. Whenever I repin something, I take a look at the others who have pinned it in the pop up that appears after you successfully repin. I click through to their board and take a quick look around. If there are several pins there that appeal to me, I follow that board. That way any time they pin something to that particular board it will appear in my home feed. This saves me research time. I also go to that person’s main page and see if there are any other boards I might want to follow.

When it comes time to sit down and make decisions for the year I go back first to my specific school year board. I usually have more than one curriculum pinned for history, Bible study, and writing. I pick one of them and look at each of my pins for that subject. This helps me to compare the differences and answer any questions I mentioned in my comments so that I can come to a final decision.

Once all of our books are decided on, I head over to my subject boards to see what fun activities I can add into my lesson plan. For example, this year we are going to study the Middle Ages, so I have crafts, videos, and pictures pinned to my Middle Ages Pinterest board.
By keeping all of my ideas online in my Pinterest boards I know exactly where to find them, and I can access them from anywhere. I do recommend that you make your homeschool boards as specific as possible to make it easier to find things later on. It’s no fun to scroll through 700 pins to find the one you want! Happy pinning!

Using Konos as a supplement

konos curriculum review

Konos is a wonderful unit study based curriculum. It comes is 3 HUGE volumes that are organized by character trait instead of traditional topics. For example, the lesson on human growth and development is under the Patience character section. These 3 volumes can be used as a total curriculum for history, science, writing, and geography, and are meant to be used across several grade levels. Each lesson comes complete with a suggested lesson plan, co-op ideas, book lists for reading and for research, and tons of activities to choose from.

I purchased the full 3 volume Konos set several years ago, and every activity we have done out of it the kids have loved. I am a firm believer in creating a ‘3D’ learning experience – where music, crafts, food, and participating in an activity combine to make the lesson come alive. The Konos activities are designed to do just that. When we studied genetics in science, one of the activities we chose was making a chart of all of our family member’s eye and hair color. Then we studied the results to identify the recessive and dominant genes that each person must have. It really helped the kids to understand them better, and they still will bring up dominant and recessive genes a year later.

I do not use Konos as prescribed, however, going through a character trait at a time and using it as our core curriculum. Instead, I like to use it as a supplement to our regularly scheduled learning. One thing I have found with Konos (any way you use it) is that it takes a bit of planning on my part in order for it to be successful. There are no texts, just activities, so I have to make a trip to the library in advance to make sure we have books that discuss the topic. I also have to narrow down the myriad of activities to the ones I want them to do, and then make sure I have any supplies needed on hand. This isn’t particularly time consuming, but it definitely requires forethought. Very rarely have I been able to just open up the binder and work on an activity.

We used their election book during the last presidential election, and it was one of my favorite things we have ever done. I highly recommend it for really helping kids understand our election process at all levels.  It’s especially great to do anytime a current election is going on so that you can visit the candidate headquarters and get the full experience.

They sell an index that lists the major topics and people covered in the three volumes and tells you where to find them. After I finish the lesson plans on my planning worksheet, I take the topics section and look for any that are listed in the Konos index. I have another sheet where I am listing these topics and where they are in the volumes. Once I have this list from the index I look at the individual lessons and decide which activities I want to do. I will then go back to my lesson plan worksheet and and the Konos activity to it. I am also making a separate log of any specific books and supplies I will need so that I can get them ahead of time.

These types of lessons get to the heart of how I want to educate my kids, and I love how engaged they are with each one. Even though I am not using it as our core, we have found great benefit using it as a supplement!

Creating the entire year’s lesson plan at one time

As I mentioned in my planning post for this year, I am creating the lesson plans for each subject all at once before the school year starts, and I’ve created a free homeschool assignment sheet that you can download at the end of the post.

How I’m using the assignment sheet:

Right now I am going through book by book and creating a Word document for each that lists the day of the school year and the assignment:

Sample of the blank template

Sample of the blank template

In the header I will list the child and subject so that I can easily identify it later in the year.  The day column is numbered 1-180 for each school day. (Not all of our books take all 180 days, and my state doesn’t require a specific number of days, but I like to have an idea how many days we will devote to a subject.)  The pages column is where I list the pages in their text/journal that they need to read and work on.  The topic column is where I list a few words describing the topic covered.

I listed the school day by numbers rather than dates for a specific reason: my homeschool is not operated in a controlled environment.  While I may plan a full 5 day week of school, there are days where everyone wakes up sick, or an impromptu field trip opportunity arises, or any number of things interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. 🙂  By numbering the school days, I can more easily adapt to these interruptions by simply assigning the next day’s work rather than trying to find my lessons in a calendar form.  Another helpful feature of assigning this way is that we never move through each subject at the same speed.  For example, our Life of Fred math books operate from a mastery standpoint.  They might need 2 days on a lesson, or if they are struggling through the bridge exams, I might make them repeat some lessons already done.  In contrast, we move through our spelling books at a lesson a day pace almost without exception.  By moving through each subject in a numbered fashion, it is easy for me to let the kids work at the pace they need without me losing track of where we are in the overall plan.

Perhaps the most important feature of my planning template is the check box column.  This allows me to check off each lesson as it’s COMPLETED so I know right where to pick up in assigning the next week.  This is a huge time-saver for me as it allows me to write their lessons in their planners quickly.

You can download this FREE homeschool assignment sheet below in Word format which will allow you to modify it for your own needs.

free homeschool assignment sheet

Free Homeschool Assignment Sheet Download