Planners, Homeschool and a Deployment

I am coming to terms with the fact that I am NOT a “slacker blogger”, as I have referred to myself in the past. I am, however, an extremely busy, homeschooling, mom of 4 whose husband is often out of the house, out of town, out of the state, or out of the country. (And I’ve recently signed on as co-leader of our new FRG during a deployment because I wasn’t busy enough.) I’m still a writer, even if it’s not here, though I anticipate many more writings here in the future as I do tend to get wordy during deployments and sometime in the next two or so weeks, my husband will be gone again… This time, for nearly a year… This time, it’s Korea… This time, he’s the company commander… This time, I am instrumental in helping to form our FRG and the families of our unit. I’m excited and nervous. Our first FRG meeting as part of the command team was a few weeks ago and I’m torn between being authentically me, and being the “commanders wife” (because we all know SHE wouldn’t have purple hair and Batman themed shoes, right?)… Everything is changing, all at once, but the show much go on, and on it will.

Our school books for next year have already been purchased. Sissy is a soon-to-be seventh grader! Holy goodness y’all! I started this blog when she was so little, and though I haven’t always been here to write, she has been by my side growing into a beautiful young woman. I’m excited to see how she continues to grow and learn in the coming years. Bug is nearly 8. He wants to be “The Flash” when he grows up… The boy was born earliest and hasn’t stopped moving since. Punkin will be three in August and isn’t talking yet. He’s starting to manifest some autistic-like behaviors and he’s already seen more specialists than I can count in his short years. From failure-to-thrive to possible apraxia, he keeps me on my toes. Mini Mouse just turned one this past March. She does her best to keep up with her brothers… Seems I’ve got three speedsters in my midst.

Part of getting next year’s school work together was getting my new planners. I love my planner! I mean, I really love my planner. I’m not the most organized person in the world, and this thing helps keep me together on the day to day business of running a home: FRG meetings, basketball season, doctors appointments, the military and homeschooling.

To be honest, when we started homeschooling, I had no idea what we were doing. I’d tried using planners and could NOT make my brain function in a linear enough way to make my life simple AND use the planner. They seemed to just make things harder. I couldn’t keep up with the writing and the teaching and lesson planning was NEVER my strong suit in school. In fact, I repeatedly got marks off for having incomplete, incoherent lesson plans. I was always taught the purpose of a lesson plan (from a teaching standpoint) was so that anyone who walked into your classroom could teach your lessons in your absence. That doesn’t fly with homeschool and I was freaking out. My best friend had a planner that she had barely used and wanted to throw out, but as is her style, she thought of me instead and passed it on. I WAS HOOKED!

The Well-Planned Day is easily the best planner for OUR family. I stress that this is what works for us because the planner was given to me by a friend whose family struggled to use it. Our family has thrived on it for at least three years now and I couldn’t imagine using another planner. I look forward to ordering it every year and get excited when it finally arrives. This year, knowing my husband would be deployed and I’ll have slightly more obligations outside the home, I got my typical planner as well as the On-the-Go Planner. This, I feel, will allow me to keep notes on lessons and our day as things happen throughout our day.

The Well-Planned Day has loads of features that extend beyond just a homeschool lesson book.

The front of the book contains: Before the lesson planning begins, there are keepsake pages and so much more. On the keepsake page, you get to fill in some basic information about your family for this school year. Things like, grade levels, ages, favorite things to do, all of this will change year to year, so it’s nice to have these little mementos (with a place for photos) each year. There is a page for “staying in touch”. This is a great place to write names and special dates. Anniversaries, birthdays, just special dates that you’d like to reach out on. There is a section for special projects and household chores. These can be written by the day if you’re anything like me and need to focus on certain tasks per day, or by week, more as a chore goal, AND there’s a place for monthly projects. I LOVE the monthly projects! These are really helpful when I know the garage needs to be cleaned out or I have to budget for something big. I can set a deadline on that budget at a certain month OR I can simply write in “Clean the Garage” on the May box and know that I don’t have to worry about the garage right this minute because I’m doing that in May. Then, I just have to focus and get it done during that month. It’s so easy when I have things written down. I don’t make it through deployments or long separations without writing my chores down because I get easily overwhelmed by having to do everything on my own.

There are separate pages for each child to have there own unique schedule as well as your own (if you write out daily schedules for lessons). These pages also include room to write which books your student is using (so you know what not to use if it wasn’t a good book for your particular child’s learning style), it also includes space for your child’s stats and a photo so you have a second place to keep specific information on each child, each school year. There’s a Year-at-a-Glance page featuring all major (and some minor) holidays throughout the year and each half of the planner features a Semester Goals page (I like to make notes here on where our lessons should be by the end of each semester).

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Each month, you’ll find: Each month begins with a Month-at-a-Glance calendar. There’s a place on the side of this two-page spread for notes and plenty of space to write in appointments and happenings for the whole family (remember that we are a family of six and still have plenty of room for appointments, sports, meetings, etc.). Each day on the calendar has a scripture reference printed to facilitate reading through the Bible within the school year, if that’s what you choose to do. Sometimes, I read them. Other days I don’t. We school year-round, so there’s plenty of references to facilitate that. There is an entire page of tear out shopping lists (six lists per month) and a two-page article on a homeschool specific topic. These topics range from how to pick curriculum for each child’s learning type and challenges and how to budget meal plans and stick to it. Each year, these articles are changed, so in the four years I’ve been using this planner, I’ve never received the same article twice. Also each month, is a small section for your monthly budget and a section for book lists for that month or field trips you’d like to take. Then come the detailed lesson pages. Now, I only have two kids in school now, but this planner supports up to four students per subject. Each of these lesson pages comes as a weekly planner. Each week has a section for Weekly Priorities, Dinner Menu, Bible verses for the week and an organization or teaching tip.

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Nearing the back: At the end of each semester, there is a section for your successes. I love this section because this is the stuff my family has done, the places we’ve been and the challenges we’ve overcome in the past few months. When you have kids with learning disabilities, when you have kids with special needs, when you have a husband who is deployed, SEEING THESE SUCCESSES MAKES A DIFFERENCE! It is such a blessing to not have to see the day to day crap to be able to see where we have made progress. Included within that section is the semester attendance reports and grade progress. I use these to track our work daily (or weekly) because our umbrella school requires us to check in twice a year with attendance and grades. There is also a color printed, gloss finish report card to be filled in for each child (remember this planner is workable for up to four students). Future plans and the next Year-in-Advance pages are helpful to me because it allows me to plan out any changes to next school year in terms of books or scheduling. With my husband deploying to Korea soon (like before the first of June, he’ll be gone, SOON!), comes the realization of block leave when he returns. Here at Ft Hood, TX, they get 30 days when they return (that’s new to us). Future planning makes it easy to set up our schedule, in advance, knowing that he’ll have that 30 days at home and that we DO NOT have to use that precious time filling in worksheets and answering quiz questions.

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In the first semester section of the planner, there is a special section just for holiday organization. Gift buying, card sending, get-togethers, budgets, etc., all the planning in one place. LOVE IT!

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Well-Planned: On-the-Go has a lot of the same features, in a smaller format and a much more portable design.

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I’m so excited to have my books, in hand, and ready to go. As daddy leaves us behind for Korea, our schedule, our routine, it’s what’s going to get us through. We support him, we support each other, and these planners help to support us.

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