My friend Roan at Joyful Always has inspired me to do a little more in depth planning for the upcoming school year. We're both using Sonlight and I really liked some of her ideas, especially having to do with reorganizing the Sonlight binder. Those of you who use Sonlight probably do so because it practically eliminates the need for planning- and it does- so that begs the question of why I felt I needed to micro-plan our school year. Here's what I've done and why.
1. I bought 36 colorful tabs and divided our school year into eight week increments. Behind each week's tab is everything I need to smoothly manage our homeshcool for that week.
2. I love Sonlight's instructor's guides! This is largely why I switched to Sonlight. They are very structured, but at the same time leave room for customization. Because I have two advanced readers doing Core 3+4 this year, I've added readers and read alouds to our curriculum. (I added these from the individual Cores 3 and 4 so that we will have a more complete American History experience.) The instructor's guide provides room for me to write in our reading schedule for these books plus I was able to add our Science and Art schedules in the "other notes" section. By the way, thank you Roan for introducing me to Donna Young homeschool resources. I had been going through the Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science textbook making myself crazy trying to break it down into daily lessons when I discovered someone more experienced than myself has already done this! Twinkle Toes will be studying Nutrition 101: Choose Life next year and each weekly lesson can be easily divided into two days.
(Our school schedule is heavy on Mondays and Tuesdays since we have no outside activities on those days.)
I also printed the Apologia General Science schedule from Donna Young and placed it in Monk's folder. So, why did I feel the need to also write it in our Sonlight binder? I want to have a master schedule that the kids and I can check for all their subjects. I love that their Grammar Ace and Wordly Wise assignments are already included in the Language Arts instructor's guide. And it was easy to add in their Spelling Wisdom since Sonlight provides a space for Spelling already.
The only subjects not covered in our Sonlight binder are Math and Greek. I didn't feel the need to add these because they are so straight forward. The kids do one lesson in Math each day until test time. The kids work two pages of Greek each morning at breakfast. It's that simple!
3. My crazy friend Roan also convinced me to move all the wonderful study notes included in our Sonlight instructor's guide up to the weekly tab that the book will first be utilized. This was a tough decision for me and half-way through I was regretting it. Now I think I'm glad I did it. Here's why: Sonlight has provided incredible notes and resources that I didn't fully take advantage of last year. Whenever my kids would read a book that I hadn't read, I would use their discussion questions to test reading comprehension, but I didn't use the notes Sonlight provides for the books that we read aloud together. I also didn't use their maps since I found it hard to thumb through and find the appropriate map at the end of the study notes for each book. I ended up using a book of historical maps that I already had and could keep within easy reach. This year I want to take full advantage of all that Sonlight has to offer including all notes and maps. I think if everything I need for the week is right there behind its tab, I'll be more likely to make sure my kids are getting the most out of each reading session.
And finally, with a new baby on the way in October (or I can always hope for September), I want our school days to be so streamlined that the kids can figure out what they're supposed to do next without me. I'll be here, but I may not always be available, if you know what I mean.
I also took advantage of Donna Young's wide selection of planners to write out a daily schedule for each day of our week (they're different because we have piano on Thursdays, Bible study on Wednesdays, etc.). I've placed these schedules at the beginning of our Sonlight binder and also in each child's folder. Hopefully with our weekly and daily schedules, we'll always know what we're supposed to be doing when!
Thanks, Roan for inspiring me to plan ahead. I've had so much fun going over everything we're going to study next year that I'm ready to start school right now! I really can't wait!