Planning Again – A Year Considered

You all asked some great questions after my first planning post, and I’m FINALLY around to give you a more detailed glimpse at the big Post-It note planning grid!  I have been planning away myself, which accounts for my absence here!  ;)I’m winding up my planning though – just a few tiny details to finish up.  Book purchases have been made; most are in.  Shelves are freshened, and my plans are singing!  The children are excited to begin!  We school year-round, taking off 4-6 weeks in late spring/early summer – our new year begins for us in 2 weeks!  I am once again grateful for the investment of time made in these plans as I know the rudder and guide they will be in the months ahead!  I know that many of you are just beginning your planning though…so grab your cup of tea and a pretty new notepad and let’s chat a bit!
What a scrumptious time of year!  Post-its, fresh pencils, and rulers – oh my!
Greta asked:

Did you free-hand the grid or make it on your computer?

I used a yard stick to make the grid lines and a big piece of art paper.  You could certainly do this on your computer though!

Kelly asked:
Are the post it’s color coded by child?
 Yes, the post its are color coded by child, but this isn’t super important!  It is visually easier for me.  An alternative method which is just as workable is to use only light yellow post-its, but use different color pens for each child.  This is a more workable option if you have a number of children you’re planning for at once!

How are the grids organized? Months? Child?

The grid has my children’s names (with grade) down the left side and across the top are the subjects to be taught for the year.  This grid is my brainstorming plan for the entire upcoming year!

On my grid, you see 4 post-its down the left side – Sweet Pea (my 9th grader), Sparkly (my 5th grader), Peanut (my 1st grader) and Family Work.  Across the top I have listed the following subjects:

** Religion
** Language Arts
** Math
** History & Geography
** Science & Nature Study
** Latin
** Literature
** Fine Arts
** Electives

You could list any subjects you like, but the key here is to keep this general.  Everyone will be doing something with Language Arts, but my first grader will be learning to read and my 9th grader will be writing expository essays so the post-its inside their particular section of the grid will reflect the work, program, or ideas I have for that child for this particular year.

Do you keep the books in the bins all school year, or do you do something else?

The books are only out in the bins as long as it takes for me to consider them and get some basic plans on paper.  When I plan out my year, I divide it up into 4 quarters, which makes it easier for me to plan.  Once my grid is in place, and the book bins are filled with materials from my shelves, I can begin getting some ideas onto paper.

What does the more detailed paper planning look like?

I like working in a document with a table inserted, but you could work in excel just as easily.  I sort by subject and start listing books and authors.  I consider which books will be read/studied during which quarter (for example, sometimes it makes sense to study some things during certain natural seasons (botany in spring, winter birding, Lepanto in Literature coordinated with other books which flesh out 16th century culture and context).  Just moving one subject, one book at a time, I can work through a year for a child and get some good plans on paper.  I make note for example if a book is *x* number of pages long, how many pages will need to be read in a week to complete that book in one quarter.

I’ll be happy to put some sample pages up as soon as I have my details nailed down!  I’m still finalizing my 9th graders Shakespeare plans, and I’m deciding at the last minute to spend a year with Thornton Burgess’ The Burgess Bird Book for Children because of some interest on the part of all the children and some amazing resources I found that accompany this study!  Once details are done, I’ll be sure to give you sample pages!

This plan is NOT MEANT TO BE A STRAIGHT JACKET – for the children or for me!  It is a guide, and a good one.  It is our year – considered!One more quick word about the books in the bins…after considering them, and detailing a few plans, I return the books to the shelves with the exception of those books that will be used during the first quarter of the year.  Those books are assembled in the children’s baskets on their shelves.

Here you go!  A little teaser!  Here are the book baskets almost ready to go for the first quarter!  (note…not every book is read completely in Quarter 1 – some books are only partially read.)  Enjoy peeking!


Of course, not everything is pictured, but I thought you’d have fun reading spines!  I know you want the details on what we picked for the year!  Soon, I promise!  ‘Til then…enjoy your tea and your planning and the sweet delights of summer!

The details:
A Year Considered – The Early Years – something between K and 1st grade plans
A Year Considered – 5th Grade
A Year Considered – 9th Grade  (and do check out the links and resources offered for Charlotte Mason in high school)

Edited to say…I finally found a few of the great posts that originally inspired me in the Post-it note planning department.  It took some hunting, but be inspired…
PlainsongKeeping “Posted”
Footprints on the FridgeI’ve Found the Cure

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  1. Ok, I'll bite, Jen… the Help for High School binder on your daughter's shelf??? I'm assuming that's reference material for her? I'd be very curious to know what you put in that binder!

    (like you didn't already have enough to write about, right? LOL)

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. I too am curious about your High School binder. I am also curious about what books you will be using for highschool.

    Thanks for all the great advice!!!!

  3. LOL – Oh! I wasn't thinking in terms of curriculum; now I remember the Bravewriter program. I will be curious to see what comes of your thinking, though.
    😉 I think I have a good handle on what my ds will be working on this year, but it's all still pretty informal at this point. I've been working on writing down “stuff” for my younger kids.

    Back to my own packing and planning now…

  4. Just wanted to let you know that you are awesome for doing this! These homeschooling how-to posts are SO great for moms who are just starting out, like me! I bookmwark them and plan to STUDY them =) Thanks.

  5. Hi Dessi,

    Good to *see* you! LOL!!

    You asked about year-round homeschooling…tell your daughter that year-rounding was my kids idea!

    They like it a lot! And I do too!

    Hmmm…I started to list all the reasons and it got too long! Maybe I should write a post!

  6. Jen,

    This is wonderful. Thank you again for taking the time to write this out for us. I have found these posts invaluable as I move away from a workbook/box curriculum (which we all suffered under). I sort of transitioned about 2/3 of the way through our first year, and the kids loved it. But it was hard to stay ahead of the curve! I love how you say that it isn't set in stone, but is a year considered! What a concise, lovely way to put that. I had struggled to figure out what to do with my different ages at the same time, and after hours of fruitless searching, this post made the light bulb come on. Thank you!

  7. How exciting, Joy!

    I love light bulb moments!!!!

    Thank you ladies for your kind words! So glad this could be of help in visualizing! Don't be afraid to tweak and change! I certainly haven't cornered the market on the one-right-way to do this!

    May Our Lady of Perpetual Help be an assistance to us all as we plan!

  8. Jennifer, I am always inspired by you!
    May I ask, how did you decide what grammar books to use with your children? I haven't seen many of them and my head is swimming trying to figure that subject out.
    I see you listed Winston Grammar for one of your children…how do you like it?

  9. Hello! I've been a reader for a while, but not sure I've ever commented. Thanks so much for these planning posts–I have appreciated the information and help! Being a visual person, this post-it idea will be super, starting on this today. Thanks again!

  10. Thanks Jen for taking the time to answer my question, and for your great planning posts. I'm always looking for better ways to plan. I'm already using your dish tub idea – very helpful!

  11. Thank you! Thank you!
    your planning post was wonderful! It made my life so much easier! Yeah! You are the best Jen!
    The post-it idea is pure genius! Love it, love it, love it!

    Thank you!

  12. Hi Donna Marie, sorry I'm late responding to your question…but, better late than never, I guess! 🙂

    Your question:
    >> May I ask, how did you decide what grammar books to use with your children? I haven't seen many of them and my head is swimming trying to figure that subject out.
    I see you listed Winston Grammar for one of your children…how do you like it? << Here's my *readers digest* answer…I happen to think that a lot of mechanics and grammar can be successfully taught for the most part by doing dictations and copywork. More is learned as formal writing begins and I offer more input there. I do like to offer some focused grammar and mechanics work and I do that for all of my children by way of *Winston Grammar*. It's a hands on program which effectively and succinctly teaches the parts of speech and the way in which they relate to each other in a sentence. I use Winston Grammar for all children from 4th grade up through high school. Maybe it would be helpful if I do another post on our Language Arts approach rather than trying to fit it here in the comment box. LOL!!! Is this enough of a start for you?

  13. Thank you so much for the Burgess sites!!!! I have a copy of this book and was wondering how to make it work for my 3-12 aged children. Blessings,

  14. LOL! I look forward to the full-length movie version…haha!

    Thank you, I am always second guessing myself…call it pregnancy hormones, perhaps!;o)

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