Our final step in Getting Started with Classical Homeschooling is to create your first lesson plan. A lesson plan is simply a record of what and how you will teach something. Lesson plans range in complexity based on individual preferences. Just like the scheduling topic, there are also millions of options across the web and in the homeschooling world on lesson planning.
This post is an extension of the last post about scheduling. The principles that govern scheduling also apply here. The Christian classical homeschooler will find lesson planning a fruitful thing because it allows us to be better stewards by making provision for the realness of everyday life and it can help guard against some of the fear that we are not doing enough. It does this by becoming an external support to remind us of our why and purpose. In addition, it reminds us of the big picture to-do list and gives confidence that the realm of particulars is serving the larger goal.
I have four main sections to my homeschool lesson planning
1. Overall goals and milestones
This document brings heaven to earth for me. Outside of prayer and repentance, this is my main tool for finding peace in the tension of the real and ideal. I review this to keep my why and purpose in front of me. It has come in so handy on a daily basis, keeping me from saying yes to things that do not matter or that do not serve the purpose. Since I spent time thoughtfully thinking through this, when I am at that moment I can easily say no, when at other times I might have given way to worry and bought something new. This is the main thing I bring to homeschool conventions. I compare any option to it. Most of the time I end up not buying anything except, art supplies, more literature books from the used book vendors, and specific selections of curriculum I knew I needed ahead of time. My husband is especially happy about this benefit.
2. Weekly lesson plan chart
Here is where all the assignments are written for my children. They check it off when complete, and then I file them in a binder when the week is over. This also serves as my record of what they have done. At the end of the year I put these lesson plan sheets, the results of their annual test, and a few work samples in a file for permanent storage. ( I am contemplating going digital, but I am not quite ready to release my filing cabinet or my paper-based lesson planning system)
3. Morning Time lesson plans
I keep these separate because they are the same for all the kids and it tend to bog down the individual lesson plans I give the kids. If you do not know what I mean by Morning Time, we use Cindy Rollins Morning Time outline. We love it and it is our favorite part of the day.
4. Routines lists
These are the processes that we engage in that always stay the same. If a child “forgets” how to do their daily spelling drill, I can tell them to look at the spelling routine. This way I am not wasting my time reiterating thing that are logistical norms. It does take a chunk of time to get these on paper, and I do have to discipline myself to be consistent in using these routines, but once instituted I find they have helped so much. This also helps prepare for the days that I have a babysitter or dad “subbing” for me. The routine for doing all their subjects is written out and no one can say “but Mom doesn’t do that!” or some similar statement. 🙂
The last thing I try to attend to when it comes to lesson planning is working smart not hard. One of the things I have always had a tendency to do is come up with the most complicated way to do things. Therefore, I make an extra effort to ensure I am not needlessly complicating things. I do this by choosing curriculum that has a routine to the work and, with the exception of math, does not have me giving a longer lesson more than once per week. I do not schedule more than two instruction days per week. For example on Monday I teach the grammar lesson, then on Tuesday – Friday they do the regular jobs associated with their grammar concepts they learned. Friday is our conferencing day where we talk through their week, I assess and get a sense of what they are getting, what needs work, and what I should change or keep the same for next week. I am always there for questions, but I am not spending an hour teaching a lesson each day. I get all my lessons in on Monday and then a couple on Wednesday as part of our weekly co-op.
Once this structure was in place, there was a tremendous about of peace that entered in. I know my peace cannot be attributed to logistical processes, but it played a part. It created an environment where I wasn’t making provision for the flesh, so to speak. It helped cultivate an environment where it was easier to remember the promises of God when I needed to. Because my mind wasn’t whirling, I could calmly walk things out. Of course, the key to maintaining a state like this is a combination of scheduling, planning, prayer, Bible study, and constant repentance. It is important to remember we are all still in process. I will not be perfect until I see Jesus face to face and, therefore, my plans and schedule CANNOT be perfect. I am in process and will remain in process as long as I remain on this side of eternity.
Thank you for being part of this community. There are some excellent resources listed below to help with lesson planning. Check them out and tell me what you think.
Expanding wisdom, extending grace,
Resources for further Study