Friday, September 10, 2010

Homeschool Organization Tools


The order and organization of the earth is nothing short of miraculous.  I strive for organization and order though find myself lacking on many many fronts.  I need a certain amount of planning, organization and order for this funny little brain of mine to function.  But within that framework of basic organization I like to live spontaneously and a bit on the disordered wild side.  You might think this is brought on by the nature of the delightful small children I spend my days with.  But in truth this has been my way for many years.  In college I would painstakingly plan out my semesters and then with the help of my advisor determine the perfect “path” and course load.  But then, oh dear…that fateful day when registration began, and I had successfully registered for each of those carefully chosen classes,  I would become completely swept away in the pure expanse of classes and options and incredible things that there was to learn about that I would pack my course load full to overflowing.  Within my carefully ordered brain there is chaos.  But it works for me.  I do strive to push the ratio more heavily on the order and organization side versus the chaos side…but it’s a moment to moment battle right now!! 

As I approached the beginning of this homeschool journey for our family I knew that our success, and my sanity, would weigh heavily on how well I could stay organized.  Our families homeschool philosophy is made up of bits and pieces of so many wonderful ideas and theories and practices of philosophers, educators, mothers, and so many so much wiser than I.  Today though I’m going to share the documents I created to keep me on track and in some sense of order. 

Because our homeschooling journey is beginning in NY state we won’t have to report on our “goings on” until next year.  It was important to me to establish a good routine right from the start so next year wouldn’t be traumatic in any way in terms of reporting.  I did a lot of research on different organizational methods and created what I think is going to work well for me.  My goal was to have a framework of what I wanted to cover over the year, broken down into months, and weeks.  This framework would exist as a basic organizational structure for the free reign of curiosity, exploration, and discovery.  Do you see it… the organization and chaos existing together.  Only this time I am sincerely hoping it is not chaotic…and rather pure spontaneous learning.  My organizational documents include three elements. 

1.  Monthly by subject. 

2.  Monthly by week. 

3.  Weekly. 

Each of these documents is available for free download.  The link (and a vital note!) is at the bottom of this post. 


Monthly by subject will allow me to plan what I would like to cover each month in each discipline that we will focus on. 

Several of the main facets of our homeschooling, including handwork, seasonal celebrations, and creative play are already such an integral part of the rhythm of our days that I did not feel the need to “plan” for them on the monthly by subject page.  They will however be documented and recorded on other sheets.  The monthly by subject sheet contains our goals for Math, Language Arts, Science/Social Studies, and Art.  Having goals written out for the year gets the plans and ideas out of the swirl in my head and onto paper so that I can be better attuned to the curiosity and self-direction of my darling little learner.  It is very likely that I will end up with several editions of these monthly pages as different subjects are spontaneously and naturally explored, at different times perhaps, than I had originally sketched out. 

My favorite element of the monthly by subject pages are the resource and idea lists.  Here I record different activities, books, field trips, mentors, projects, etc., that will aid our natural exploration and perhaps the introduction of different subjects.  At times I have found that I want to introduce a subject that hasn’t arisen naturally yet, because of the season, time in our lives, etc., and expect that the same will be true going forward.  Choosing certain books, starting certain projects, going certain places undoubtedly sparks questions and wondering, which leads to exploration and discovery, which always results in the most delicious sort of learning imaginable.  This list of resources will be revised and added to throughout the year and will be ready for use whenever the subject arises. 

Monthly by week pages break down our monthly subjects into weekly goals. 

Again, this is a very rough outline but breaks down the ideas into more manageable chunks.  Field trips and projects are documented with greater detail on this page.  This page will also receive a great deal of editing as we progress through the year.  But again…it’s a starting point, and serves the beautiful and critical purpose of getting the information out of the swirl in my brain!!! 

These pages will be vital as we head into the week, to get a general feel for the overall rhythm we will experience.  It will serve as a starting point for our library trips, and a launching point for infinite moments of discovery and learning as we move through our days together.  For example as we explore math concepts together and are focusing on patterns I can turn my mind towards pattern concepts as we bake, clean, spend time outdoors, and play together.  This magnificent world that we live in is the perfect school for children…and above all else learning should occur naturally and seamlessly with the lives we live. 

And finally our weekly pages, covering each subject each day for the week

The sole purpose of this page is document what actually happens during the week.  This written document will accompany images and portfolio pieces to make up a wonderful record of our journey together.  I know that I must cater to a certain amount of state regulations (next year!!) in terms of documenting our schooling…but honestly my main goal in preserving a small token of our learning together in hard copy format is for her…and me!  What a precious treasure to look back through someday…and whenever little hearts are in need of “wow…I did that!” therapy. 

Like any organizational scheme revision and adjustments are inevitable.  In fact, a lack of revision would simply show a lack of awareness to the natural ebb and flow of a journey such as this, rather than the creation of a perfect document. 

However imperfect, they are working fantastically for us right now and I am happy to share them with you. 

Each of the documents are available for download (free!) here:

Just note…for some bizarre impossible (for me!) to solve reason the documents look a bit wackadoo when viewed directly on Scribd.  When downloaded they are all set and ready to go.