It’s summertime and the planning’s good

Okay am I the only one who is geeked about planning for next year? Oh my but I love everything about it! Every year is a fresh start, full of possibility. New school supplies and clothes (we get these things), fresh teacher planners and juicy new dry wipe markers are all signaling school’s about to start!

I know you may wonder why I am chatting about this now. It’s early July, you think. I have plenty of time, you think. I’ll do that later, you think. I wouldn’t if I were you…

Planning for the year is important. You know the saying, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” It happens every time I think I can “wing it.” I like to think I’m a free spirit but I really need more structure than I want to admit sometimes. For me, writing it all down helps keep me on track and [mostly] productive.

Here is my planner for this school year. I have linked below to all the wonderful blogs whose free printables I used in this planner. Isn’t the cover beautiful? I cobbled the contents together from several sites to fit my needs. I laminated the covers and comb bound it (I happen to have tools to do both). Super cheap and just what I needed!

Here is a tour of my planner on YouTube. To me its easier than a bunch of pictures.


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Here are the links to the printables I used.

 

 

 

G is for…GACE

I’m so happy to come to this letter! GACE, or the Guide to American Christian Education by James Rose is my favorite go-to reference for BPA. It is chock full of almost everything you need to get started and stay going. I can hardly begin to list all of what’s in it. It addresses BPA in the home and in home education. There is help planning lessons, basic 4R’ing and other foundational concepts and disciplines. He addresses core subjects, enrichment and some subjects that are hard to come by in any other BPA materials–namely Kindergarten year full lesson outlines, economics and Anatomy/physiology. There are contributions from Katherine Dang and Mrs Ruth Smith, among others. (Did I mention how much I adore this book?)

It is inspirational and challenging, practical and comprehensive. We have a GACE study group on Yahoo! that goes through Mr. Rose’s study that is comparable to the Self-directed Study from FACE.

C is for…curriculum guides

The Noah Plan Curriculum Guides (CG) from FACE are wonderful tools for almost every subject. They are chock full of info on lesson planning, teacher notebooks, foundations of the subject, timelines and more. There are projects and checklists and sample student work. They are a terrific resource for newbies and experienced BPA’ers alike. I talked more about them in this post.

There are CG’s for history/geography, literature, mathematics, art, English, and reading. They are useful for K-12 and are useful for planning lessons because they have quarterly lesson outlines for K-12 in the front of each guide (except art). Science is not available but I hope it they write one. For some BPA help with planning science lessons and laying a science foundation from PMom click here.

They are also excellent resources if you don’t use the Noah Plan and even if you don’t homeschool. They offer each subject’s Christian history, resource lists and more.

 

 

Filofax: my inner organizer’s new love

Warning: total Filofax geekery commencing in 5, 4, 3, 2…

Planners are a fantastic tool. I have used them for years. I used to be into Franklin Covey planners, then the store in my city closed. I tried some planners from the office supply store. I printed my own and used 3-ring binders. I bought some online. Then one day on YouTube I found the holy grail of organizers–Filofax.

The more I looked into it the more convinced I have become that Filofax makes the highest quality organizers out there. Along with the quality, there is this delicious variety of colors and configurations. There’s a planner to fit literally every need. So, needless to say, I have two planners on their way to me. :)

Filofax personal Malden

Filofax personal Malden

This lovely purple Malden in in personal size and will be my daily planner. I swear Filofax had me in mind when they designed this. It’s on its way from England (via eBay) and when it arrives I will show you all around inside. (personal size pages are 3 3/4 in. by 6 3/4 in.)

Filofax pocket Chameleon

Filofax pocket Chameleon

This little red beauty has a special job to do and when it arrives from FilofaxUSA I will show you all about that too. (It was 60% off–a great deal!) I’m really excited about this planner and what it’s for. (pocket pages are 3 1/4 in. by 4 3/4 in.)

If you are as geeked about Filofax as I am, or if you just want to see more of them in action, there’s a blog for that: Philofaxy. Also I have a Pinterest board for all things Filofax.

Do you use a planner of some kind? What’s your favorite?

5 ways to a better homeschool year

The school year is fast approaching (if it isn’t already upon you). While you are excited about the fresh year and new possibilities, some of those old fears and frustrations from last school year can creep up on you before you know it. Here are but a few simple ways that you can make this a better year.

Pray. This is the most important key. Fresh vision and a renewed outlook are critical to change what you want to change and make this a better year.

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:24 NKJV

Schedule. After you have prayed you can move to scheduling. Make a plan to avoid disaster and to plan for fun and spontaneity. It’s not easy but you’ll be glad you did.A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Prov. 3:5,6 NKJV

Connect. Find a kindred soul to walk through your year with. If you don’t already have one, seek out a friend to pray with and to share the good, the bad and the ugly with.

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 1 Thes. 5:14 NKJV

Let go. Release unrealistic expectations. Release your death grip on life. Release those fears and frustrations from last year and wipe the slate clean. Release things into God’s hands and marvel at how He beautifully orchestrates your family’s lives.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. Jer. 17:7 NKJV

Encourage. Encourage yourself in the Lord. And find another mom to encourage. Make it a long term project to bless another mom you know. It’s hard to obsess about your own problems when you are meeting someone else’s needs.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col. 3:16 NKJV

Getting homeschool organized for 2012-2013 part 2

If you missed part one, you can catch up here.

Okay here’s where I get a little more detailed on my BPA way of things. It’ll work for other approaches too but this is my take, at least for this year. :) This post addresses filing and BPA stuff in general. You can see how this system folds all of life in together.

weekly foldersOkay this is the front of the weekly folder. It has the family weekly planner stapled to the front. This has my menu plan, activities and to do list. So handy!

insode file folderInside the folder you can see how it holds all our life: brochures, postcard reminders, recipes to try, school handouts, it’s all in this little folder. You can see life in context each week. This is more visual for me even than a planner list. I can see what all is going on this week and only this week–each little weekly capsule. Then of course all these activities go onto my monthly planner calendar I carry with me so I can see a month at a time.

In my files I keep a folder for Masters. When I have to make a copy from the NP lessons for a graphic organizer or some such thing I will probably use again I make a few extra copies and keep them here. Then I have extras for when I forget or when I might be low on printer ink. :)

Up front in the top drawer of my filing cabinet (I have four glorious drawers!) I have 7 folders, one for each principle. Into these I put clippings, printouts and more that help me illustrate these principles in every day life (especially to my middle and high schooler). it helps spark conversations and  bring these principles into the everyday. This is one of my favorite things!

Now that school is starting I have taken my homekeeping notebook out of my tote. It now holds a season of folders, my Noah Plan lessons for third grade (the spiral) and my school planner (the black binder). I use these beautiful planners from Home Educating Family Association and I have removed the spiral and put the pages in the notebook so I can add things as I need to in some file pockets and such.

I hope this is helpful to you! In the next installment I’ll show you my organizational tips. I love in a small home but we don’t do without in our homeschool just because we are short on space.

Getting homeschool organized for 2012-2013 part 1

Staying organized as a home educator isn’t easy. There are papers, plans and projects all over the house, and unlike a traditional classroom we can’t shut the door and go home. Options are everywhere online these days. A simple Google search can yield more ideas than you can shake an organizer at. This is my current system and I thought I ‘d share it in case it should fit your family in some way. Thanks to Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight for all her posts on her File Crate System. I’ve tweaked it a bit for my needs but here goes.

Here is a peek inside my filing cabinet, which is in my dining area.

Each week has its own file folder.. The folders are grouped according to season as Dawn suggested.

You can see the circled numbers on the tabs. Those are the weeks for school. Each week is labeled according to what week of the school year it is. Inside each folder are the things I need for that week: printables, brochures, maps, etc all fit right into the folder. Because I use a curriculum this year that is all laid out for me I could make a list of all the materials I needed for each week and get organized before the start of the year. This makes things so much easier for me!

As the year goes on and I come across things for different topics I can just slip them into the file folders. The little sticky note is to list things that don’t fit: materials needed, web sites, etc. This folder also holds things I need/use everyday. [More on these details in the next post.]

I then have a portable file crate that I got at Target. This holds stuff I need at my fingertips.

In here I have a season of school file folders, my homekeeping notebook and my school planner. I also have a file for things that don’t fit anything in particular.

There are things like crafts and recipes to try, web site addresses and things we would like to get around to one day. This gets too full and I have to toss things sometimes and file other things.

As you will see in part 2, this helps organize my whole life and it shows how homeschool is integrated into all of living. In part 3 I’ll post some of my tips and tricks for getting organized. How do you organize your homeschool materials?

Homeschool Plans for 2012-2013

I am really really really looking forward to this new year! So much change and so much to make me smile. I have been on sabbatical from home educating my children but God has brought things together for me to be able to joyfully teach my children again. I have missed it so much!

My two older daughter are starting junior high and high school this year at our church’s Christian school. The boys (8 and 4) will homeschool with me. So here are my basic plans for this new school year (third grade and preschool):

My 4 year old wants to be just like his big brother so I have “school” things for him to do as well. Soon I’ll see if he’s ready to learn to read. I have had the privilege of giving each of my other children the Golden Ticket and I can’t wait to work with my last one.

 

This is just the skeleton. I am starting to put these bones together and then I’ll flesh them out with weekly plans and dress this guy up in some field trips and special projects.

I’m trying a new-to-me organizing system that I’ll share with you soon. I really like it so far! I’ll show you how I adapt it to fit my needs.

Decisions, decisions…

Two days until we start our new school year! I am peacefully happy about how this is working out for us. In our homeschool we follow the calendar of the private school my daughters attend. They start on Thursday, so guess what. So do we.

My 7yo son has bugged me since Christmas break to homeschool him again. Once we decided to do just that he has never looked back. He hasn’t wavered or questioned his choice once, even when we registered the girls for school and went shopping for school supplies. I am so impressed with his quiet confidence in his choice.

Unlike him, I spend too much time rehashing and questioning and second guessing most every important choice I make. I don’t just let the decision hang out there, small and vulnerable. After I toss it out I quickly reel it back in, clutching it,  frantically searching for any perceived flaw. Upon closer inspection I deem it unworthy and toss it onto the heap with the rest of the changed decisions. Then I make another decision and start the process over again.

Those little decisions never reach maturity. They never see the light of day. I hang onto the familiar, even when it’s not in my (or my family’s) best interest. I pray Jack’s unknowing example will help me be braver as the months go on and that some of my wee decisions will have the chance to turn into great things.

Let your “Yes,” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No…” James 5:12 NKJV

Plans for this school year 2011-2012

So we are counting down the days until we get back into the school swing. My two oldest attend our church’s private school and I am teaching the younger two at home. I have a preschooler and a 2nd grader. Here’s what the big picture looks like for this school year.

Almost everything here is planned for me. Because I work full time and attend school myself, I can’t get into a lot of lesson planning from scratch. This is a very workable plan for us. It keeps us in the BPA but not overwhelmed with creating my own plans.In the near future I will go into a bit more detail about what we are going to do.

My sons and I can hardly wait for the new school year! I know God has good things in store for us.