Homeschool Planner Printable

Well, we’re one week into homeschooling and so far, we’re LOVING it. So far! Believe it or not, teaching is something that really excites me! I love lesson planning and preparing fun activities and while we’re taking a more casual un-schooling approach for junior kindergarten, i’m still adding in mini-lessons here and there.  I wasn’t quite sure how our school days would look and figured we play around with things that first week. And that we did. As I shared in my last post, my main goal for the year is to instil a love of learning into my children. Most of the time, I want them to be learning without even realizing it.

I prepared each of my boys two binders for the year. One for their “work” and one for art. My kids LOVE to do art. I did a ton of photocopying at the end of the summer and each Sunday, I insert the work I want us to cover that week into each of their binders (it’s not a lot at all as my approach is more hands on learning, less book work). While I make a rough outline of an activity to do each day, I’m really flexible with when it get’s done, as long as it get’s done by the end of the week! We have been doing about 20 min of focused “school time” each day but the timing for when we do this is different each day depending on what we have on the go. Some days it will be first thing in the morning but if we have nature group,  swimming lessons or a play date that morning, we might do our “school time” after lunch or even after nap/quiet time. But the boys have been excited about it and remind me saying “mom we haven’t done our school time yet” if it’s later in the day.

While my kid’s have great letter recognition and can print a lot of them on their own, we’re still focusing on a different letter each week, to perfect their printing and ensure they know all their sounds in preparation for reading.

I designed this little planner to help me with my planning on the weekends and also to keep as a record each week in my teacher binder of what her have accomplished. I have a section at the bottom for a to-do list for mama’s and also a section to keep a running list of my kids interests for future lesson planning. That section is key for me with our un-schooling approach as I want the topics we learn about (besides phonics and math work) to really reflect their interests.

For kindergarten memory verses, our verse each week corresponds with the letter of the week. I will provide a separate printable for this soon!

Happy homeschool planning! You can print yours here: Homeschool Weekly Kindergarten Planner

And I also have one without “letter of the week” for any homeschool age here: Homeschool Weekly Planner

Thanks for reading!

 

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Our Un-Schooling Approach to Homeschooling

I’ve been asked a few times recently which approach we’ll be taking to homeschooling this fall, which curriculum we’ll be using, etc., The truth is that I really struggled for a few months not knowing exactly which route to go. I mentioned in a previous post that I was homeschooled myself and I’m also a teacher so I think most people just assume I have it together and have this amazing plan in place. But I don’t. Things have changed so much since I was a kid and there are sooo many different curriculums to choose from and different approaches to homeschooling. So I started to do some research. I watched a lot of you tube videos and read a lot of other blogs about what other homeschooling mama’s do. But to be honest, that kind of made things worse. The options were overwhelming and every time I felt I had made a decision, I would hear or see something else and change my mind. Having a type A personality doesn’t help either because I like to have everything organized and ready to go far in advance.

It was only as we began to dedicate some time to trying “school work” a few times a week (as a sort of test drive) that I have realized what will work best for our family as we dive into this new adventure. First off, my boys are SO different when it comes to learning. I love this about them. They are both very bright and like to learn but Bryson has a longer attention span and his fine motor skills are a lot more developed then Sky’s. He will sit down and color and won’t leave the table until every spot is complete, trying his very best to stay within the lines. Skyler will do some quick scribbles and be done with it. Bryson was writing his name on his own a while before Sky because he loved the challenge of being able to do it on his own. He would sit down and practice in his own time and would run up to me and show me his paper, so proud of what he had done. Skyler couldn’t be bothered until just recently, when he was good and ready. I was soon noticing that forcing Sky to sit down and practice printing or do a worksheet for more than 5 minutes was an extremely gruelling task. This kid has a wild imagination, and he is such a creative little soul but extended periods of seat work is not what he enjoys doing right now and it wasn’t fun for any of us. I was starting to get frustrated that the boys weren’t always interested in what I had planned out for them and I began to really question my decision to homeschool. But around that time, I remember reading about how at this age,  it’s important to focus on instilling a love for learning. I realized I wasn’t doing a good job of that. I was forcing the boys to do things they weren’t always ready to do and while it’s a good thing to push and challenge our kids,  I don’t feel I need to do a lot of it quite yet at this age.

SO. Things changed. I decided right there and then that I wasn’t going to order a set curriculum for kindergarten. I wasn’t going to follow a rigid schedule for the year with planned themes and activities the way the traditional teacher inside me wanted to. Instead, I was going to take an un-schooling approach. The definition of un-schooling for those of you who are a little confused is: an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. In other words, I want the interests of my children to be a guide for what they learn about.

Studies have shown that children retain a lot more information when they actually enjoy what they are learning about and I started to see this myself since we’ve begun to implement this way of learning. So using a recent example, the kids have been really into “maps” lately. I noticed they were drawing a bunch of shapes and lines on paper, mixed with some letters and then they would roll up the paper and carry it around as their map.  Taking note of this interest, I told them that next week we would learn how to make a real map. I’ll teach them how to make a title, a legend, and a scale and we’ll probably start with just making a map of their room or the upstairs of our house. This may sound a little advanced for 3 year olds but they’re into it and excited to learn. And by making maps together, we’ll be tying in math, writing,  geography and art all into one project.

Using another real life example, the boys have just been introduced to chewing gum and one day one of them swallowed his by accident. They both started to cry worried that something bad would happen because they knew that swallowing their gum was forbidden! After calming them down, we came home to the computer and I found and printed off some diagrams of the digestive system and they learned about how it works. This made both the boys feel a whole lot better when they learned that the gum would slowly but surely make it’s way through. They colored in their diagrams and they can now tell you by pointing to each part how everything we chew and swallow travels through the digestive system from start to finish. Again, sounds a little complex for a 3 year old? My kids are not little geniuses by any means. I’ve simply been observing their interests and using them to determine what we’ll learn about next. It’s been working great. 

And don’t get me wrong, there is most definitely a time to practice printing our letters and numbers and all that important stuff, (I’ll make sure we get through the kindergarten expectations) but we’ll be taking a more relaxed approach. I give them a worksheet (we have a few workbooks from target and scholars choice and the amount of free printable’s online these days is amazing) or have them practice printing a letter a few times a week while I’m preparing their lunch. Or on this particular morning, we brought these fun new chalkboards from Chalkfull of Design  to a coffee shop and worked on number practice and shape recognition after they enjoyed a yummy treat. The boys LOVE these boards and I’m totally planning to order the letter and clock one as well! Learning can happen anywhere and you might just find us taking our books or printing practice to the beach or a park too. The flexibility of where and how we learn is probably the thing I love most about homeschooling.

So while we haven’t officially begun our school year, the focus of the year for us is going to be about instilling a love for learning. It’s kindergarten. We’re going to be doing a lot of play, a lot of free exploring, and our learning will be guided by their interests. I’ll jot down their interests as they come up and in future weeks, we’ll take out library books based around that topic, plan activities and field trips around it, etc.,   We also have a weekly nature group in place for the fall with a number of other homeschool families. We’re really excited about this as our kids already LOVE to be in nature and it provides so many opportunities for learning and free-exploring the world around them. A few weeks ago after a hike through the woods, we had seen a huge turtle in the water and the boys wanted to know the difference between a tortoise and a turtle so we came home and researched it together. Learning can be fun. And that’s what this first year of kindergarten is going to be all about.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Some Reason’s We’ve Decided to Homeschool

Ever since I shared our decision to homeschool the twins next year,  I’ve had a ton of people ask me to share the reasons for our decision.

I’ll start by saying that I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I have so many great friends who are already sending or planning to send their kids to public school or private school and I completely respect their decisions. After all, it was what we were planning to do too until we strongly felt it on our hearts over the past months to go this route. This post isn’t meant to try and persuade anyone or make you think that we believe homeschooling is the better option. We just feel it’s the right option for our family at this time and since I’ve been asked,  I’m happy to share some of the benefits we see in it.  Most of these reasons come from my own homeschooling experience growing up as well as my own experience with teaching in the public system. But some of them we found while doing our own re-search on the benefits of homeschooling and we couldn’t agree more. For those of you who don’t know my background, I was homeschooled myself from JK-grade 11, went to Catholic school for grade 12 and then went on to University followed by teachers college. I supply taught for a year before I had the twins and then I never went back.

So here are some of the benefits we see in homeschooling that have really helped us to solidify our decision:

Flexibility and Freedom

This is probably one of my personal biggest draws of homeschooling. I love that while homeschooling, we will have the freedom to teach our children what we want, when we want. Of course we’re going to ensure we’re meeting the curriculum standards of our province. However, I love that we won’t have to live by the schedule of the private or public schools. We don’t have to rush the kids out the door at a specific time each morning. We can go on as many field trips as we want for real life learning experiences. We can be done school at 10 in the morning if we want, leaving lots of time for other interests and hobbies. We can take holidays through the school year, taking our work on the go, if we want. And the list goes on. It works really well with my own work schedule as an entrepreneur as well, as I can take my own work on the go too!

Child-Led Learning 

I think we would all admit that we learn more effectively when we’re learning about stuff we like and interests us as individuals. While I realize this has become a priority in the school system in recent years, it would be impossible to allow each child in a classroom of 25 kids to focus on what specifically interests them. Just not possible. So while my kids will have core subjects and lesson’s we have to work through, there will be lots of room for them to explore what specifically interests them while also learning at their own pace. Sometimes kids just need to slow down to fully understand a concept before moving on and sometimes they may be way ahead of everyone else, sitting around waiting for their classmates to catch up. I even notice this just between my two twins. One of them gets certain things faster, and the other gets other concepts faster. Homeschooling will allow my children to move along at the pace that’s just right for them.

No Homework woooo! 

I know it depends on the teacher, but while I was in teachers college and supply teaching, I was sometimes shocked at how much homework went home in the evenings and weekends. Kids are in school at desks all day long and they are expected to do MORE desk work after that? I mean the obvious reason is because there is often so much wasted time during the school day and it’s not the teachers fault…it’s simply the way the system is set up. So many children to one class, so much time spent moving from one class to the next, lining up for recess, waiting for other students to quiet down so the teacher can actually teach etc., etc., With more focused work time around the table, we will be able to get done in 2 hours (and more like 30 min in kindergarten) what would take the entire day in the classroom setting. Then we can spend our evenings and weekends with my husband doing fun family things and spending quality time together or taking them to extra curricular’s without having to worry about cramming in homework before bed.

More Opportunity for Hands-On Activities

While everyone has different learning styles, I feel from both my own educational and teaching experience that there is so much value in hands-on learning and that children should be given more opportunity to do so. As mentioned above, I love that on any given day we can leave our desk work at the drop of a hat to go and have a real-life experience. Whether it be to the supermarket to let them help me plan healthy balanced meals or count out change at the till. Or maybe to the fire station? Or perhaps a local conservation area to study eco-systems and journal about it.

Fosters Independence

Ok this is also a huge one coming from my own experience. One might have thought that I would be completely lost once I got to University after not experiencing the classroom setting, lectures etc., until my final year of highschool. It was however, quite the opposite. Thinking back to what I saw in a lot of my peers around me, I don’t feel the school system adequately prepares most students for what is ahead. In most University classes,  you listen to lectures and then you write exams at the end of each term. Sometimes, you have essays or assignments to complete.  But no special help or guidance along the way, no reminders or anyone checking up on you, not normally any formative assessment with quizzes or small tests to ensure you’re understanding the concepts. You’re basically out on your own to pass or fail. While a lot of students do catch on and do perfectly fine, I would also see a lot of my classmates leaving say, 3 papers until the very last minute and having to pull all nighters because they didn’t know how to manage their time in the weeks and months prior. I watched some have breakdowns and eventually drop-out. While university was still a big challenge for me, the format was nothing new. I had learned to manage my time properly from a very young age, having been given the same sort of flexibility and freedom with my studies. I had assignments to complete and deadlines to meet but for the most part, I could decide when I wanted to get it done.  I had learned to be very independent with my learning and these skills have carried on to my adult years as I’ve started my own successful photography business in where I essentially taught myself everything I know about shooting as well as running a business.

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One-on-One Learning

Or one-on-two or three?! haha There is most obviously so much benefit to learning in a smaller group setting. I will more quickly and easily be able to pick up on what my children’s strengths and weaknesses are and focus on them. I will have the opportunity to cater to my kids specific learning styles which likely wouldn’t happen in public school.  We will also be able to get tasks done more efficiently. I remember how some days, when I was homeschooled, I would be done my desk work by 10 in the morning if I was determined.  Then I could spend the rest of the day reading novels I was interested in, doing art, practicing an instrument I was learning, cooking or other hobbies. How cool is that?

More Sleep = Better Health

Kid’s need sleep. My twins still nap 2-3 hours most afternoons, especially after a long morning of pre-school. They come home just exhausted and basically collapse into their beds by 12:30. Every child is different of course. (Some of my friends pre-schoolers dropped their nap by the age of 2!) Thinking about sending my boys for full day school next year just made me cringe. I know as their mom that they would struggle to get through the day and would likely be little irritable monkeys by the time they got home. Not having to wake them up super early to rush out the door in the mornings and giving them the flexibility to nap still if they need it while they’re so young is another huge benefit in my opinion.

Increased Family Time and Instilling Values

This kind of goes along with my last point as I love that I’ll be able to spend time pouring in my children’s lives during their best and most alert hours of the day. My husband was telling me the other day that recent studies have proven that physical activity at the start of the day is very beneficial to your focus and attention span through the rest of the day. The fact that we would have the flexibility to implement things like this, even if it’s just a short walk first thing, is so great! As far as transmission of values, I love that we will have the freedom as our kids educators to emphasize and focus on things that our very important to us like our Christian faith, scripture memorization etc., and leave out things that we don’t agree with in the public school curriculum. I am fully aware that there is lots of time and opportunity for instilling those values outside of school hours but how much more awesome will it be to have that much more time to teach and equip  them while they are young.

Now don’t get me wrong, while I have laid out all the great benefits of homeschooling, I don’t expect it to be easy by any means. I know that taking my children’s education into my own hands is going to be a huge challenge and there will likely be days I regret my decision altogether, especially with a brand new baby to tend to as well. I have thought all this through, trust me. But I truly feel that the benefits I’ve listed will be entirely worth every hard and trying moment and I’m so excited to give it everything I have.

I also wanted to note that some may argue that homeschoolers aren’t socialized enough or that they don’t get to experience things like track and field, participate in school plays, etc., The good news is, they DO! There are so many support groups, co-ops, etc, in place where our kids can have the opportunities to be a part of  larger group activities like plays, book clubs, nature groups, and there IS even a track and field for homeschoolers (something my husband was happy to hear! 😛 ) We will also make sure, as my own parents did that our kid’s are involved in extra curricular’s, and have the opportunity to meet lots of other children, whether it be other homeschoolers, friends at church programs or on sports teams. They’ll get socialized so don’t fear!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this you guys! Again, I’m only sharing it so that you might get a better understanding of why we made this decision for our family and so that it might help you to better understand some of the benefits if you are or ever have been curious about homeschooling yourself!

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A Big Decision for Our Family…

Where you lead I will follow. So much easier said than done right? Right. It’s a scary thing to commit to following wherever He takes us no matter what. Terrifying actually. Because what if it has nothing to do with the dreams and visions we have for ourselves? For our future? For our family?
I want to share something with you that is really scary for me. Scary because although I feel such a peace about this big decision we’ve made for our family, there are still days when I have my doubts. Days when I don’t think I’m cut out to do it. Days when I don’t think I’ll have the patience or I’ll completely regret my decision all together.
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Besides running my photography business, I’ve jumped around from project to project over the past few years. From writing a blog with a friend, to fitness coaching, to actually beginning the planning stages of opening a coffee shop (HA!)…to a million other ideas that I had in the works. But since this past August, when I quit coaching because I felt I was being called out of it (even though it was something I loved), I really felt that the Lord was strongly telling me to wait on Him. To take nothing else on over the next 6 months except for the remaining shoots I had booked. This was hard you guys. Especially when you’re a dreamer and a planner like me. I’m constantly dreaming up new goals and business ideas I want to pursue. I’m a creative, and an entrepreneur at heart. It’s HARD for me to sit still.  But while I’ve been working at de-cluttering and minimizing our home, I felt so strongly that we were also to start getting rid of the clutter in our lives, the busyness of our calendar, the over-committing to things that weren’t important or weren’t lining up with where He wanted us to be as a family. I felt I was being called to really just pause and seek what He had in store for me next. And see, what I thought was coming, was totally not what God had coming. I thought He wanted me to take a time out because He was preparing me for this huge business opportunity that was going to present itself any day now. I was anxiously looking out for anything that I thought might be a sign of what I was supposed to jump into next. While a couple ideas and collaborating opportunities came up, each one slowly fizzled out and I continued to  patiently not so patiently wait. It was a hard season for me and my closest friends and family all know this. It was so hard for me to just be. But at the same time, it was the absolute best thing and now I know, the most God-orchestrated thing ever. I spent more time reading, listening to podcasts, more intentional time with my kids, my family and friends. With a push from my best friend, I started to attend our weekly woman’s bible study at church while the twins are in pre-school – time that I normally spent “getting things done”. 
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Right before Christmas, I stumbled upon a quote by Andy Stanley that said “Your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I remember smiling to myself and thinking…aw that’s nice. While raising my children is so important to me, it surely wouldn’t be my biggest accomplishment. I had SO many big business ideas and I was waiting on God to tell me which one to go after so I could get moving and start making things happen again. It was around this time (before and around the Christmas holidays) that there began to be talk of registering the kids in school for next year. All my friends with kids the same age were talking about it, taking tours and filling out registration forms. I started to feel really anxious as we were currently trying to decide between 3 different school options and I didn’t feel a peace about any of them. While homeschooling had crossed my mind in the past, (after all, I was homeschooled growing up and a few of my close friends have been considering it for a while) it sure wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. Especially with a new babe on the way, arriving right before the school year begins. I was picturing my life with so much free time to be able to work on new projects while the twins were in full-day school and my newborn napped.
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But that quote I read at the end of the year continued to stick in my head. I saw it pop up a few more times and I still had no idea why. “Your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” Ah.
At a play date with our best friends one afternoon in early January, Britt and I got chatting about school options for next year and she was telling me she was still very much considering home-schooling. Hmmm homeschooling. This was the first time I really thought about it in a long time. While we had casually chatted about it in the past, I intently listened to her tell me about the reasons they were strongly considering it and I remember leaving that day feeling a bigger peace about this crazy idea of homeschooling then any of the other school options we had. But no, that was crazy. I still didn’t believe it was the right thing for us. But of course, I got home and couldn’t get it out of my mind. I started to look up other homeschooling mama’s on instagram, started reading homeschooling blogs and listening to homeschooling podcasts. I did a lot of research over the next couple weeks while having lengthy discussions with my husband and praying about it too. Of course I began to run into more moms who homeschooled or were considering homeschooling for next year…coincidentally or maybe God was strategically putting them in my path…who knows!  Some other crazy things fell into place around that time as well…like Ron getting a promotion at work, meaning my monthly income can be a little more flexible.
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SO. You guessed it. With a lot of careful consideration and prayer over the past month, we’ve made the decision to homeschool next year. And as I said above, the idea still scares me. I’m definitely more excited then scared but on the days when I want to pull my hair out now, I think Lord what are you asking me to do?!?!  But I’m trusting that since He’s placed this desire on my heart and made it clear in so many ways, that He will be my strength when I don’t think I have it in me. I’m trusting that this is the right decision for our family even when it feels like it’s not. Who know’s what else He has in store for me in the months and years to come but I know without a doubt now why I was supposed to wait and not start anything else. It was definitely not what was on my own agenda but I am choosing to follow where He is leading and put my desires and dreams on hold to pursue what I feel He is calling me to at this time. I will continue to run my photography business but will take minimal bookings. We don’t know how long we will do it. Maybe just kindergarten or maybe all the way through elementary school but we’ll take it one day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time. I am going to share some of the reason’s I have come to feel so passionately about homeschooling in a second post because I didn’t realize how long this would get! But I’m excited to share this journey with you so thanks for reading and following a long!
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 p.s. how cute is this shirt by Rosalynne Love as a constant reminder of all of this?! You can check out more of her awesome products here! 
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