Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

The opinions on independence and online schedulers in this post are my own. I was compensated for my time in mentioning Homeschool Planet.

How do you make sure your middle and high schoolers know their daily assignments? Some of us use plan books or whiteboards (in our case an exquisite slate board!). Some use calendars and custom homeschool planners. I like to use a plain spiral notebook for my own planning, but I like to provide my kids with a simple weekly list of the things they need to do by week’s end. Creating Independence with Online Schedulers is all about how we use daily and weekly lists and how they might benefit you.

Advantages of Homeschooling Independence

Every homeschooling mother dreams of when some of her children can work on their own. Some students are naturals and others need more guidance when the time comes. What are some reasons it’s good to be independent?

  • Allows mom to work one on one with other students- We all need this from time to time, right? Basic skills like math and reading come to my mind especially when your kids are at various levels.
  • Teaches students strategies for solving their own problems.
  • Offers opportunities for ownership of work- This is necessary when students are ready for you to transition from teaching to mentoring.

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Benefits of an Online Homeschool Scheduler

Many homeschoolers make use of a daily task list. What if you could make this list easily using an online format? How would this benefit your homeschool?

  • Automated– So, once you type in the assignments, you don’t have to worry about making sure your student finds the list. It’ll be delivered to his inbox.
  • Easy to find– Less likely to lose a device such as a tablet and phone compared to a piece of paper or a notebook.
  • Available on mobile devices– All it takes is for the device to receive an email. The email contains the assignment list which is color coded.
  • Receive assignments on the go– Or have a reminder of what those are when they are away from home.
  • Takes advantage of digital oriented habits– Many students today already check tablets and phones during the day. Including their daily task list in this format makes the habit easy to stick to.
  • Reminders can go beyond school assignments– You can choose categories for reminders and include items like work, volunteer jobs, field trips, chores, etc.

Homeschool Planet Online Scheduler

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Homeschool Planet is an online scheduler and homeschool planner. I’d been searching a long time for something easy to use to give my kids an electronic task list without the overhead of a lot of other online and digitally formatted planning software. Here are a few things I’ve enjoyed about using Homeschool Planet:

  • Set up is quick & easy– There isn’t a ton of information to be entered before being able to use the program. It has capabilities beyond what I need and if you are looking for more, you can keep records, attendance, grades, etc. But the bottom line is names of kids and their classes and a spot to put assignments. Done.
  • Does not require setting up lessons– In order to use the features that make the task lists. This is so important if you just want a scheduler. I don’t need the historical data because I have to do a lot of reporting in NY State separate from what is recorded in online planners. I just want the scheduler.
  • Entry of assignments is not time consuming– It’s pretty intuitive and adding assignments for all four of my kids takes only a few minutes.
  • Emails assignments to my kids– I can pick how often and what they see on any given week, but every morning they’ll get an email with the tasks necessary for each subject for that day and it’s color coded. You can also send a weekly digest so they see the week ahead.
  • Calendar Sharing– If you want to share your calendar (various formats available) you can do that as well. I like to keep things simple, but there are a lot of features.

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Sign Up for the Free Trial

There is a 30 Day Free Trial of Homeschool Planet. You can get a free membership to Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op and try out Homeschool Planet free for 30 Days.

Homeschool Planet is $65 per year or $6.95 per month.

Relevant Posts from Blog, She Wrote

Using Ordinary Notebook Paper: Planners & Assignment Books– This method of using a spiral notebook transitions well to the online scheduler. In fact, that’s how I’ve been using Homeschool Planet. I continue to keep  my notebooks and choose this scheduler as the delivery method. There’s still no empty boxes and lots of freedom. The best part is how quick it is to transpose my plans into the online form and sit back as assignments are delivered daily to my kids!

Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teen– Speaking of independence and creating electronic task lists, how do we work with our high schoolers and help them to become more autonomous before leaving home?

How to Homeschool with a Kindle– Using an online daily scheduler is another great reason to use a Kindle in your homeschool. It’s an affordable way to enter the world of tablets and they’ve been such a useful tool for our kids.

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How to Plan Five in a Row

Blog, She Wrote How to Plan Five in a Row

If you’ve been a long time reader, then you know we are a Five in a Row family. In fact, we use Five in a Row at different levels through middle school. In the early years, we used it exclusively and our oldest used it all the way through middle school. The other three kids have used Five in a Row for many years in addition to other unit studies through middle school. Our youngest has done Five in a Row on his own and  as a “tag along”. Although our children are older now and we are pursuing our own independent & authentic brand of homeschooling, Five in a Row has been the curriculum foundation of our homeschool.

I used to get asked a lot how I managed the planning and implementation of Five in a Row (FIAR). After seeing more recent comments and concerns about planning from FIAR users, I decided it was time to give this old post new life. How to Plan Five in a Row is all about how to keep things simple in order to use FIAR to its fullest potential with your family.

Five in a Row Planning Tips

First of all relax! Whatever you choose from the manual will be wonderful and will make an effective week of school. Forget the “extras”. Jane Lambert did not write a curriculum which would require more than her lessons for the areas outside reading and math instruction. The beauty of FIAR is the way it captures for children a broad base of knowledge which they can draw on in the future. They’ll have more prior knowledge to access later on.

Blog, She Wrote How to Plan Five in a Row

Read the Front Matter in Your Manuals– There is a wealth of information there on how to organize information your children learn, what materials you need, what sorts of notebooks to try, and other helpful hints from the author.

Sit down sometime before the week begins and look through the manual. I choose two to three lessons for each topic for our week. Generally, I go for one longer lesson and one shorter one for each subject. I gather the materials for them ahead of time. One thing that can end a good school session is not being prepared! This is especially true when you have young children who will wander off if you don’t keep them engaged.

Choose activities for a day based on what your week is like. I don’t plan heavy things for days when we are not going to have much time. Seems obvious, but if you think a lesson might not happen on a particular day, it probably won’t! So don’t set yourself up for failure from the start. Choose shorter lessons or those which are more conversational.

Have a Conversation. If this is hard for you, then go for the more concrete lessons until you have more of a rhythm reading to the kids. Once you are more at ease with the reading part, the conversations will come. They don’t have to follow the book either. You can read the book and be sitting down to lunch later in the day and say, “Hey remember when?” and bring it up at that time. It’s always good practice to get your kids thinking about a book and to talk about it all the time. Think about what would be easy for you to try out and go for it. This works for teens too! One of the best ways to communicate with your teen is through the books they are reading. Start early!

Find a way to record your lesson plans– I use a plain spiral notebook for planning. It’s easy and doesn’t have a lot of overhead. There are no blank spaces to try and fill. With two high schoolers, a middle schooler, and one elementary student, I still use a plain spiral! I don’t have one spiral for four kids anymore, but it is still the best planner I’ve ever used.

Prepare Your Own Papers Based on Lessons– Rather than looking for a printable, I would grab a sheet of paper and write, “Metaphors” at the top if the lesson asked the student to write her own metaphor. Printables are fun, but they take time to find, sometimes cost money, and they must be stored or kept track of prior to using them. Grabbing a sheet of paper and writing the assignment with ruler lines for writing on takes only a few moments.

Store the things you prepare ahead of time. Again, I refer back to an earlier point that being unprepared for the teachable moment stinks! Sometimes you want the printable, then you have to have it on hand when you need it. I’ve used various systems over the years. However, I try not to print anything more than a day or so ahead. If you know that won’t work for you, then have a binder where you keep the printed material until they are needed. It will save you headaches later.

Try at least one lesson for every subject. You’ll be tempted to skip ones that don’t appeal to you and/or you are intimidated by. Be sure to choose lessons from every subject area or you will begin to feel like something is missing. For example, if you skip over the art lessons all the time you’ll find yourself down the road going…FIAR doesn’t seem to have art or you’ll begin to think you need an art supplement. Trust me…I hear it over and over from FIAR users. My feeling is that it’s all there IF you choose to implement the lessons.

Resist the Urge to Plan Large Themes– Lots of people want to incorporate themes to their FIAR studies. It’s not necessary and it’s somewhat undesirable to do all of one kind of book at once. Grouping winter books or books on one country, etc might seem fun and the best way to organize your studies, but I don’t find it to be the ideal scenario. Part of the magic in using FIAR is revisiting topics along the way and adding more knowledge to what they learned the first time around. One of the things I love best about FIAR is the variety! Sure study Snowflake Bentley in the winter as opposed to summer, but don’t feel like you have to do Katy & the Big Snow, Snowflake Bentley, The Very Last First Time, and The Snow Day all in the same month. You and your children will have more than one winter during their FIAR years. Take them as they come!

General Homeschool Planning Tips

This advice goes for any curriculum you are using. Sometimes we like to keep things too complicated when there is beauty in simplicity.

Blog, She Wrote Planning Five in a Row

Read Aloud– is one of my favorite things to do! Have you ever read, The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease? EXCELLENT read and it will boost your confidence that your efforts are well worth it. We have had (and still do) many enjoyable hours reading aloud to our children. The more you do it, the more you get used to it and the better at it you become. Reading extra books about the people, places, and concepts related to your FIAR book is easy to do. You don’t have to find or read every book out there. A few is perfect.  To this day, nothing soothes the students in our house like a read aloud. Nothing.

Keep it simple– You might be tempted to add in gobs of lapbooking and extras. My advice is to stick with Jane’s lessons. I made my own copywork sheets using my student’s thoughts and ideas. I used StartWrite software to make things for my kids to write on in a lesson. For example, when we did Owl Moon that year, I had my then 6yo give me owl facts using some owl words I had given him on paper strips. As he dictated his sentences to me, I typed them into StartWrite and then he used his own sentences as copy work. It’s not sophisticated, but it’s a great copywork assignment.

You will likely not get done everything you planned. What’s important about that is…that it’s ok. Maybe you will find another trail to explore or one of the activities will strike your kids’ fancy and you’ll play that out a lot and not so much others.

Be consistent. Get up and do school every day or most days. You will catch a groove. There is no perfect way to do the job. There are no perfect times. Just get started and do it each day. Things will become easier. You’ll start to see a rhythm. When you do, you’ll be able to see how things can be tweaked to suit your needs. You’ll know when something needs changing.

Other Planning Links & Book Links from Blog, She Wrote

The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

You might like some other planning related posts and posts that compliment the Five in a Row experience. FIAR involves multiple ages and a lot of families wonder how to manage various volumes. Early on I decided it was best to move where my kids needed to be and not worry about “staying together”. It is more work, but we also come together during the day. Since reading and books is a big part of FIAR, I’ve included a post on building a reading culture in your home.

Families worry that FIAR can’t possibly be enough or they lament the time it takes to plan. On the contrary, I have always found it to be fairly straightforward and I followed my kids’ lead. Resist the temptation to believe it has to more than what it already is! For the record, our kids grew up on FIAR and they are thriving in high school. Be encouraged!

Last but not least, Have FUN! FIAR is designed to be a relaxed, relationship building program for you and your kids which will give your children a love learning that will last a lifetime. Panic is not part of the package the Lamberts intend to sell. Enjoy it!

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Finding Encouragement at a Homeschool Convention

Blog, She Wrote: Finding Encouragement at at Homeschool Convention

I’ve partnered with GHC this year to bring you convention news and announcements throughout the year.

Great Homeschool Conventions is gearing up for three conventions in California, South Carolina, and Ohio. The speaker line up and vendor hall is sure to equip you for a new season of homeshcooling. How do you find encouragement at a homeschool convention?

Seeking Encouragement at a Homeschool Convention

Find Speaker Sessions That Will Speak to Your Homeschooling Heart– My homeschool heroes will be at GHC and it would be my great pleasure to meet them both and enjoy their sessions. Being a loyal Five in a Row user for our core homeschool curriculum for the last 8 years, I would love to meet Steve and Jane Lambert. Whether or not you can actually have a conversation with your homeschool hero, doesn’t diminish the opportunity to hear them in person and to be fed by the words they bring that day. Take the time to be a part of talks that will fill you up.

Engage in Sessions that Challenge You– Make sure you look over the schedule to see which speakers and topics are what you need for this season in your homeschool. I love to sit in on sessions which I know will stretch me or help me to think of a topic in a new way. I take notes and think about how I will apply what I’ve heard to our homeschool. I’m a pragmatic thinker, so you’ll find me in sessions which are very practical in their application. Which ones are your favorite?

Visit the Shops– Homeschool conventions are a fantastic venue for browsing and picking out items you haven’t seen before and getting a closer look at something you’ve thought about for a long time. Sometimes you want recommendations from others and to see something in person. GHC has many exhibitors planned for each location. Be sure to check them out for your location.

Seek out Vendors– Make a list of the exhibitors you want to be sure to connect with. You can see beforehand who will be attending each convention location. More than just browsing and shopping, specific companies can help you discern whether their product is for you. I reached my final conclusion about purchasing Math on the Level after attending a convention and talking with the authors myself- asking questions and looking closely at their materials.

Go with A Friend and/or Find Time to Relax– Whichever sounds more rejuvenating to you! It’s great to make the convention a time to get away and enjoy friendships. It can also be a time to enjoy on your own as you think and plan for the following school year. I like a bit of both- time to hang out with a friend and bounce ideas off of each other on what we’ve heard and some time to myself to reflect on things I’ve seen and heard during the weekend.

Blog, She Wrote: Finding Encouragment at a Homeschool ConventionJoin other bloggers from the iHomeschool Network to find out how they will spend their time at convention this year. It’s going to be an amazing experience all in one spot!

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