Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Grade in Our Home: Scheduling It All

I just wanted to share something that is working really well for us this year: our weekly schedule sheet.  With a house full of little ones, I do try to have a predictable routine, but the truth is that things rarely go as scheduled.  And even the schedule is variable!  This week, for example, I have an appointment Monday morning and Thursday afternoon, we have a meeting and playdate on Wednesday that will keep us out all morning, and we have our nature study group outing on Friday.  Last week, we had a variety of meetings as well--and we had a fussy baby for much of Tuesday that didn't let us get much done around here.  Part of what I love about homeschooling is the flexibility, being able to go where we want when we want without an outside-school schedule dictating our days.  So I knew before this year started that a daily schedule of assignments was out--that just wasn't going to work for our family.  Instead, I decided to schedule everything weekly, with the plan that we would handle readings and lessons over the course of the week, as we had time.

I do almost all my lesson planning in Evernote, with "notes" for each subject in my Year 1 "notebook."  Within each note are various charts, pdfs, spreadsheets, checklists, lists, images--I love being able to throw a bunch of resources into one place for easy access throughout the year.  Then, in a regular Word document, I make our weekly assignment sheets, pulling primarily from the AO weekly schedule of readings, and then from my Evernote plans for those subjects I have planned on my own (music, art, Italian, religion).  About a week before our school year started, I made all the weekly sheets for the first term, and I recently finished all our sheets for the second, which we're due to start very soon.  Planning term by term allows me to tweak as needed; I also make changes week to week as needed--I don't print the next week's schedule until each Friday, so I can make changes as we go.  So far, though, we have been able to stay on track surprisingly easily.

Here's a (blurry-ish :)) photo of one of our weekly sheets:

Half of the sheet is dedicated to checkboxes for our daily work: Morning Prayers, Calendar, Italian, Poetry - poet for the term, Poetry - free choice, Physical Education, Math, Read Aloud, Independent Reading, Memory Work, Hymn, Folk Song, and Copywork.  We only aim to hit these subjects four days a week, so I have four checkboxes next to each one.

The other half of the sheet is divided into subjects: Literature, History, Religion, Geography, Nature Study, Art, Music Study, and Picture Study.  Under each subject is listed the readings and activities for that week.

At the bottom of the page is room for me to write notes.  I usually use this space for my pre-reading notes so that I know what names and places to mention to the children before we start each reading.  This also then serves a record for our mapwork and timeline entries--it's a quick reference of the important people and places we encountered in our readings for that week.

Mondays and Tuesdays are usually at-home days around here, so we try to finish the bulk of our weekly assignments on those days.  Then on Friday mornings, we meet with our nature study group, so I reserve those afternoons for nature journals and our weekly wrap-up activities (mapwork and timeline).  That leaves just a couple readings for the other days, when we are usually out and about.  I am so pleased with how this method is working for us so far!  We're getting lots done, but we're not sacrificing the ability to plan our days as we choose.  Planning by week allows us the freedom we need while still giving me enough of a framework to know whether we're on track.  And by adding in art projects and nature walks to our schedule, it holds me accountable to getting those "extras" done on a regular basis.  

I also don't date my plans--we can very easily take two weeks to cover one "week" if we need to, just moving on to the next sheet when all the boxes are checked.  And that's precisely what I plan to do when this baby arrives--we'll be slowing down our school schedule and enjoying some extra home-time. ;)

ETA: You can see an updated version of our weekly schedule sheet here!


  1. Hi , I just got Evernote but don't understand how to make the weekly checklist page you have. Also I've just been cutting and pasting the URL links into my Evernote notebooks but they aren't hyperlinked. I'm not techy and can't figure out how to better utilize Evernote. I really like your weekly checklist. I need to make one for my Y3 daughter and myself. This is my older daughter's google account--my name is Betty.

    1. Hi Betty!

      The weekly checklist I use isn't printed from Evernote. Basically, I plan everything over in Evernote, and then I manually populate our weekly schedule that I have a template of in a Word document. So it's not exactly seamless. But I want the weekly checklist to look a certain way, and I can't get it in that format if I print directly from Evernote.

      As for the hyperlinks: to get them to be clickable, I cut and paste the link, then press Enter. When you press Enter, it should turn the link into a hyperlink. Does that work for you? If not, you can also force it to create a hyperlink by highlighting the text, right-clicking, selecting Hyperlink, and then adding the url there. Hope that helps!

    2. I keep plans in Evernote, too, much the same way. When I include a link, I don't necessarily want to see the link ( So let's say I have a link to a map; I might type in the note "Map" then double-click on the word "Map" and select FORMAT>LINK from the drop down menu at the top. This brings up a dialog box and here is where I insert or copy the address of the link to the map I want (for example, So, when I read my note I will only see the word "Map" underlined in and in blue to indicate its a link; but I can click on it to bring up the linked map. Hope that makes sense and is helpful!

      Karen in Kansas City