How I'm preparing for a new school rhythm & routine

prepping for school -- 2015-2016 On one hand, I'm ready for the new school year, but on the other hand, I feel like this year, and this summer have flown by. Does anyone else feel this way?

I love summer so much that it's hard to see it fade away, and yet, every year by mid-August I find myself itching for the rhythm and routine that the school year brings. All around us, friends are starting school (which seems crazy early to me!), and I find myself in the limbo period of clinging on like mad to the freedom of summer and also looking forward at what's to come in September.

Planning for school makes me super happy and excited. This year I have come across some really helpful tools for this, so I thought I would share some of my preparations here on the new online home for our family's homeschool journey (welcome to this fun, new blog! I hope you like it. You can read more about us and about our homeschool if you're new here.)

2015-2016: 3rd grade, kinder, & pre-k

Since I'll be officially teaching two different grades this year, I felt like I needed to set more of a schedule for my day to fit it all in, especially because we only have three homeschool days each week.

I know myself and our family well enough to know that we will not follow this to the letter every day but we will at least use it as a guideline on the days we are home all day. My goal on most days is to try to stay home and get school work done all morning and then get out in the afternoons. But I know inevitably we will not be able to resist taking days off to hit up the zoo, Wild Animal Park, the aquarium, or Legoland, so we will creatively re-work the schedule on those days. That flexibility is one reason why we homeschool after all!

A note: I will be teaching Brody and Hallee the same stuff on homeschool days, rather than specifically kinder and pre-k separately. More on this in a future post.

Our daily schedule

The most helpful tool that I've found recently that I'm working into my schedule is something called loop scheduling, which I learned about from Sarah Mackenzie and Pam Barnhill, two women who have quickly joined the ranks of my go-to homeschool gurus. I watched their super-helpful webinar about loop scheduling and have been working it into my schedule as you'll see.

I'm also really going to try to implement a "morning time" routine, which I have loosely tried in the past but haven't really stuck with (not surprisingly for this ENFP mama).

The other new element I'm excited to add is a Poetry Tea Time on Friday afternoons when we are home. I know the kids will love this.

Here are some screen shots of my plan so far. I zoomed in on Friday afternoons since Friday mornings are a little up in the air still.

I will share details about our curriculum choices soon. :)

monday wednesday schedule friday afternoon schedule

Notice the Loops?

So as you'll see, there is a loop in the morning for Gigi's Language Arts, and a Social Studies loop on Friday afternoon. The webinar and this post explain it much better than I can, but basically we will cycle through the things on our loop, in that order, hitting as many items as our time block and attention span will allow. The next time we come to the loop, we'll pick up where we left off.

Gigi's Assignment Book

Another idea from Sarah Mackenzie that worked great for us last year, was using a simple spiral notebook to write Gigi's assignments in (along with any other relevant plans for the day) for her to check off. This proved to be very helpful for her to see what was on the docket for the day, and also for me to look back and see what we actually accomplished.

More planning resources:

Upside-down & backwards planning-- I still use this method, rather than detailed lesson planning too much in advanced. I basically just keep going in whatever book we're in, but keep track of the specifics we accomplish each day.

My printable planner page-- this was a great tool for our 3-day homeschool week when I just had 1 student. I might either just use my regular planner homeschool stuff, or modify this one to fit 2 grades worth of details.

A Simple Homeschool Planner-- I've used many of the pages Tsh designed and found them helpful, with a lovely simple design as per her usual style. (This one is an affiliate link.)

I've also heard great things about Pam's planner but I haven't checked it out yet. I also really love the look of Mrs. Hutchinson's planner, which I've been getting glimpses of on Instagram.

I'm always interested in more planning help, so if you have some, let's hear it! ;)