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Beyond Little Hearts and FIAR 2016-2017 School Year

Every year when I plan for the upcoming homeschool year I get a little more excited. I think as my children grow older and we get more into some of the meat of homeschooling and away from the colors and shapes I find more excitement in their progress and in myself dappling in different subjects with them. I am putting together this post to help myself make sure I’ve got all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed before we make 3 road trips and are gone for all of August and start school within days of returning so I’ve got to get everything ready before those trips. Here is the rundown of ages for this year:

Now this is my first year where I really feel like I am homeschooling multiple ages. I know a lot of moms don’t do any “official” school with their 3 and 4 year olds but I have persistent children who want to be at the table with their older siblings and want to have their own “workbooks” and also want to have a little bit of mommy time to teach them. I want them to be included and not get the continual “just go find something quietly to do” phrase. A few years back I extensively planned out our first ABC themed preschool curriculum using free online resources and since all the planning is done I’ve just signed that up for Lydia this year.

I also want to mention that I would have done Little Hearts for His Glory for Joshua this year as that is the age range he falls under (5) but he sat through the last 2 years of the manual alongside Amelia. While a lot of the reading and workbooks he did not do I wanted to give him a year break from it and do FIAR this year and next year when he is 6 we will re-do the manual so he can grasp better the history/science ideas and follow along with the workbooks.

I saw this great schedule idea on Pinterest and copied it to our schoolroom wall and will also share a few of the other schedules I have printed out to try to keep everyone straight (well, me straight and the kids with the least amount of distractions as we all know what a child’s attention span holds!).

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Here is the Pinterest calendar idea… a good way to teach time! (I would link to it from Pinterest but it is just a photo link)

I have decided this year to print out all my planning sheets and schedules and have them spiral bound. This is a big step for me as our life is always in transition and I’ve been nervous about doing this since it seems so permanent but when I was using my clipboard all my papers kept flying all over the place and I’d try to keep a few weeks at a time and file the rest but sometimes would want to look at the future and I just decided to try this and see how I like it! The first page is an Excel schedule… this was based off many lovely homeschool blogs and how they schedule out for multiple kiddos.

This is just more of a summary schedule… these I made more just to help my brain really grasp what I was trying to accomplish in the color coded time blocks of the Excel sheet.

My 4 months at a time calendar to map out our actual school days and time off for holidays/baby, etc.

This is a checklist for me and Joshua with FIAR. This helps me add in the additional curriculum he will be doing and also describes in detail what we will do during his block time of the Excel schedule.

This is the detailed FIAR planning sheet to go with each book. This way I know each day of the week which activity we will be doing and what supplies/books I need to gather.

And here is the BLHFHG planning sheet. I used this sheet I created on Word last year and it was awesome! It takes the boxes in the manual and turns them into a checklist for my list personality and then there’s room for her other extracurricular activities as well as notes on what craft supplies I need for that week.

For Amelia and Joshua’s supplementals we are doing the Logic of English for our phonics program and I am going to incorporate Play and Learn Spanish as well as some possible online Spanish programs like Salsa through the Georgia Public Broadcast system (we do not live in Georgia, it is for anyone) as well as Little Pim Spanish where our library carries all the DVDs for the program. We are also going to work through some Piano Adventures lessons.

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Here is a new Ikea bookshelf I scored at a garage sale with brand new bins for $20 and a globe we got at our church rummage sale : )

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I made this bible verse display to put the weekly verses so we can always be looking at them.

 

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I also scored these mailbox holders at Bed Bath & Beyond on sale for $6 each! And the wicker bins at a garage sale for free! I plan to put the kiddos loose papers in the mailboxes at the end of the day to file at the end of the week and the wicker boxes hold all the BLHFHG books in one, Logic of Enlgish (LOE) books in another and FIAR in another

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Here is my trusty file box from Wal-Mart I’ve used for a few years now… I have big dividers into months and then color coded loose papers for each kiddos lessons for that month (Units 1-3, 3 FIAR books, 3 ABC letter sheets, etc.)

Well I think that about sums it up. I absolutely cannot wait to start! We won’t start until the first week of September due to our travels but once we do we’ll be head hard into it!

Blessings on everyone’s 2016-2017 school year!

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Creating & Maintaining a Weekly Schedule

Ask anyone who knew me decently well in college (and even high school and maybe even my close friends today) and any of them will tell you that I become giddy thinking about creating and planning a schedule! I have always loved planners but have always struggled with some limitations. In college my freshman year our Campus Crusade leaders challenged everyone to make an Excel schedule for the week. This was to include our class schedule and any other requirements such as those to Crusade or any club or group we belonged to. The point was to compartmentalize your time and see on paper how much time is spent doing various activities. Then we could see where to cut out or where was appropriate to add in our quiet time and other important ways of spending our time pursuing the Lord. I have been using these Excel files ever since! I loved signing up for classes for each semester because it meant I could plan my Excel file finally!!! Of course my life nowadays is quite different. I abandoned Excel my entire nursing career (any nurses will know why)… my work schedule every week it seemed was different and of course now the challenge arises from having little kiddos. BUT… I have come back to Excel and it works perfectly for my Type A brain and keeps me on track.

I have a few tips I have learned about creating a schedule over the years:

  • set ATTAINABLE goals – I used to have myself studying all sorts of hours in the afternoon and late into the night and then getting up early for my quiet time and get going… NOT REALISTIC. I knew it at the time but it was what I wanted my schedule to look like. It was a goal but not an attainable one. When using a schedule to keep track of your goals you need to be realistic or you will constantly feel like a failure and quit quickly. If you’re wanting to start working out then your goal and schedule should not be 5-7 days/week… that’s hard for anyone to maintain let alone someone just starting out… start with 3 days/week. This is a goal but it is an attainable one. Once you attain it then increase the days.
  • factor in down time and travel time – If something starts at 9 AM, don’t start your block at 9 AM… start it at 8:30 AM. That will allow for travel time and packing for kiddos or anything else that may come up. It is important and falls align with setting attainable goals that you schedule in down time. If you need a nap a couple days a week then schedule that in. Schedule 3 days a week with a nap included and the other 4 days schedule whatever you need to get done during that time. This way you know on Mondays I get my nap!!! And it will be okay because Tuesdays and Wednesdays are set aside to accomplish my other tasks. This way too if you’re not very tired on Monday you can accomplish your Tuesday tasks and then on Tuesday fit in a nap because your tasks are already accomplished!
  • don’t forget to schedule meal times and showering! – Ever since having kiddos (wait… I’ll confess… ever since college!) I have struggled to shower every day. Depending on the age of my kiddos I stick to an every other day plan or 5 days/week. Am I really admitting to this? Of course if I sweat or stink or am covered in baby spit-up that might change. But let’s face it… it can be a challenge to shower when the kids are safely entertained and take the time to get ready on a daily basis! So for me it is important to look at my week and pick days I can skip a shower : ) For example, Wednesdays is zoo day for us which is a long day and takes a lot of preparation. I plan to skip my shower on Wednesday which means it’s vital for me to take one on Tuesday. Tuesday is my women’s bible study in the morning which means I have to plan this shower time in early in the morning to be ready and prepared. It is also important to plan in meal preparation, meal eating and meal clean-up time. Is 15 mins. realistic? Or is it 1 hr? Only you know and every meal, every day and every family is different. On average we spend about 1 hr in the mornings with breakfast prep, eating and clean-up… maybe the same or closer to 1 1/2 hrs in the evening. I need to plan this time in so our mornings aren’t a hectic rush to move on and so at dinner time we’re not sitting down super late for dinner.

So here it is! This is what one week looks like. The top line are the days of the week and the left column are the hours and half hours in the day. I color code based on activity. This I did in college and color coded what was for school, what was for work, etc. For example, the yellow spaces are meal times; the dark blue spaces are church/quiet time/bible study, the red spaces are Amelia’s learning time, etc. Notice all the white spaces : ) those are free times for me! What do I do every afternoon when the kiddos wake up from their naps? Whatever we want/need to do. If we had to run unexpected errands or had dr. appts in the morning and couldn’t do learning time then we can fit it in here. If I’m wanting to create a culinary masterpiece then I have the time to do so here. If we want a special movie night then we can do so here! It is so important to have white spaces so you don’t feel like every single second has to be planned… there’s leniancy.

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Here’s a close-up of my Mondays. I have picked Monday to be laundry day and Friday to be cleaning day. Picking one day a week helps me because if on Thursday I see something needing cleaning attention but my Thursday is already so busy I don’t have to stress wondering how to fit it in… I know that Friday is cleaning day and I will take care of it then.

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Now, while this does look all nice and neat it is just a guideline to run by. Most of these things (except schedule events like church and bible study) happen around this time frame but the days still flow smoother having the guidlines. I want to emphasize something… schedules are great in the moment but require great flexibility. My schedule is only through April because at the end of April we will be welcoming another infant : ) : ) and we will be moving (again!) and we have no idea where or to what type of job so I have no clue what a schedule might look like in May. BUT I wanteId to make the most of every opportunity and instead of just waiting until things seem settled and normal in my life before I make a schedule I wanted to make one for the here and now… no matter how short it may be. This helps all of us stay on track and stay accomplished and focused and productive. I know when I don’t have an idea of how my week and days look then it’s so hard for me to exercise or wake up for my quiet time or whatever it may be. I’ll think that the time will just magically appear at some point and I’ll know what to do in it… but that’s how 5:00 rolls around and I’m still in my PJ’s and we’ve accomplished nothing and I haven’t a clue what to make for dinner and I find myself all of sudden battling a depressed and frustrated attitude.

I have also tried a weekly schedule that is a little less structured such as this one. It actually worked great at the time and I’m sure at some point I will go back to this just depending on what is going on in my life. I fit in our meal schedule for the week and also what we were going to do for learning time that week. I liked having the kiddos nap time schedule in with which days I wanted to accomplish what. This prevented the same feeling of I should research this or that and instead of wondering when it would get done and where to fit it in I had a research period set aside during one nap time day each week so I knew come that day I could sit down and research stuff. I wouldn’t feel guilty like I had something else to do and I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all I wanted to accomplish.

For the Week of:

Weekly Schedule

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

                                                                                       *laundry*          *cleaning*

Breakfast:               
Amelia Learning Time (8A – 10A):              
During Joshua Morning Nap (10A – 12P):            
Lunch:                
During Kiddos Afternoon Nap (2P – 5P): Blog Spanish Finances Piano Read Research Spanish Planning Piano
Dinner:                

 And I have also just tried a list format like this one mentioned on this post here. This is still the general flow of my schedule but since living in the city with being at a church that holds a bible study and going to the zoo etc. I needed a little more planning for the entire day.

Good luck with your scheduling!