Here’s my strategy for what it’s worth :)
Step 0: The Big Picture
I guess you don’t have to do this, but if you have in mind what you are going to need, you can be looking for it. I have materials we used this year that I bought years ago at a library book sales.
My basic plan is:
History: World History, Early American History, Geography/Cultures, 20th Century
Science: Biology, Animals, Earth Science, Physics/Chemistry (these could be split in high school and replace animals depending on what the child wants to study)
We’ll repeat these in a cycle. That’s the plan at least. We do science half the year (6months) and history half the year.
Step 1: Gather your materials. (There is enough information online for everything you need, but it’s still nice to have a book in your hands. Use what you have, but don’t sweat what you don’t.)
So, you know what you are going to study. Print out the page on this blog that fits your theme. Gather everything in your home that fits the theme (physically or just make a list on paper). Make a list of all the downloads you already have that fit the theme and/or links you have collected for the theme. Also make a list of books that you like you’d like to use from the library or to try to find. (I use Sonlight to find good books, but I like to buy used books from Better World Books. If you are in America, try the book swap. It will only cost you $2.38 a book I believe.)
Step 2: Organize into topics
Cluster all of your materials around topics. Plants, oceans…Revolution, Slavery…Mark labels next to everything. You can just use 1, 2, 3, and then keep a list of what 1, 2, 3…stand for.
Step 3: Organize the flow of topics
Decide what comes first, second, third from among your topics
Step 4: Organize your materials in each cluster into the order you think they would work best. (You can always fiddle with it later!)
This is what my homeschool planning is: creating a flow. I then just go with the flow!
Step 5: Get it on paper! Write out everything in order. Keep it where you can easily remember where it is :) I would recommend doing it on the computer, so you can easily add things in.
Step 6: Do you see any gaps that you want filled? Do some searching and see if you can find materials? Then share with us! OR have your child create their own lapbook or notebook from scratch using their book or online research. It’s not hard to do!
Each day your child needs to learn about one new thing. We often just use an informational website and click on one link each day. Then your child records what he learns. Draw a picture, make a diagram, act it out and take a picture or video tape it, make a power-point slide, blog about it, or write on a notebooking page or some sort of folded paper :)
Gather those little books and pages and pictures and you’ll have your own resource for the topic you previously were missing! (If you want blank pre-made lapbook pieces and notebooking pages, go here.)
We school 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year so our school day is only 3 hours long. It’s pretty simple to fill three hours. To organize our time I use Homeschool Skedtrack. You tell it what day of the week you do each subject when you set it up in the beginning. So, music will show up three days, art three days, language arts 2 days, creative writing 2 days, spelling test Friday…however you want to do it. This helps me keep moving in all the different areas, so I don’t slack in giving them grammar practice or something. Then each day I just type in quickly a few words about what they did (or need to do.)
We have noisy school for an hour when the toddler is up. This is time for art and music and for using the computer. They do “thinking” games on the computer and other math and language arts games online and use websites about whatever we’re learning for science or history. They also read books online. They each get an hour online, but their time is directed by me.
Then we have quiet school when the toddler sleeps. They basically work on math for an hour (basically do the next page in their texts) and then writing for an hour. This is when they do their lapbook and notebooking pages, vocab, grammar,…easy to fill an hour.
We do have math texts (that I bought second-hand or got free when a school discarded them–there are math texts available online), but for everything else we just use history and science to talk about. Vocab, spelling, language arts and most of the writing come from the history and science. Look on the grammar and writing pages for lots of ideas and helps for these areas. For instance there’s a grammar checklist you can use to help you work your way through topics. I’ve been working on creating a “flow” out of these materials for our coming school year. I will make that available to you SOON.
I will work on putting together “flows” from materials available online for free. And see what we can come up with :) I’ll announce when I have something together.*
*I have language arts and early American history done. The links are on the page listed below this one. As my kids and I use this site for our curriculum base I’ll work on writing more.