Homeschooling 101 Series – What Worked for Me: Student Notebook

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Recently a young mom came to me and said she’d like to get together to discuss homeschooling.  I still remember very well being that mom and asking a seasoned homeschool mom to do the very same thing with me.  Eight years in and I still go to that same mom with questions and for advice.

It got me to thinking.  What will I share with this new homeschooling mom when we meet?  What has  worked for me?  What hasn’t?

So…

I decided to do a series entitled “What Worked for Me.” (The posts may be sporadic with my crazy schedule, but I’ll try to add to the series as I can.)

This first entry has to be my favorite idea:  the Student Notebook.  I got the idea years ago from our pastor’s wife (thanks Amy), who also homeschools.  Another friend made the Excel planning sheet that you’ll see below.  I don’t think she’d mind me sharing it here (thanks Janice).

First, purchase a notebook.  I always let my children pick their own at the beginning of the school year.  I try to let them pick one they will love verses just a plain one.  Some years we have gotten the white ones and decorated our own covers, so that’s fine too.  Here’s a pic of my daughter’s notebook for this school year.

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Next, purchase dividers.  Write the subject names on the tabs.

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Then, download the Excel planning sheet here.  This sheet really serves the purpose of teacher lesson plans as well as a student planner all in one.  I LOVE it!

Excel student planner

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The student planner sheet goes in the front of the notebook.  Over the weekend, I fill it out with all the assignments for the week.  My daughter enjoys checking off each assignment when she finishes it.  There’s a tiny check box within each assignment square, but she likes to cross off the whole assignment square.  Notice the front pocket has stickers in it.  I always try to “grade” the kids’ work and put a sticker on papers I know they worked hard on.

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I’ll try to walk you through what my daughter’s assignments are.  (She’s in 5th grade.)

Memory Verse for the Week – I write at the top of the page.  I also write the whole verse on a chalkboard in our kitchen (It’s just an old framed picture. I painted over the glass with chalkboard paint.)

Bible – She does the Bible Studies for Preteens that I write.  I print out the whole thing and place behind the planning sheet.  Next year, I’ll remember to buy another divider so Bible can have it’s own Tab.  You can get the Bible Studies for Preteens here (Or go to Currclick and just search for Bible Study for Preteens)  She has finished all the ones I’ve written so far, so I have to get busy on a new one soon!

English – She just finished the whole First Language Lessons (L4) book, so right now we are working on writing essays.

Math – She does Saxon Math through Virtual Homeschool Group.  It’s free and I LOVE it!  Please be sure to check it out.  I still do most of the instruction myself, but the worksheets are online and this site keeps up with the grading.  Behind the Math tab, I just put scratch paper for her to use.

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Spelling – Modern Curriculum Press Word Study & Latin

Science – ABeka, Investigating God’s World

History – ABeka, History of Our World

Art – She has Art class on Wednesdays

Piano – She has piano lessons on Wednesdays. I write “practice” on the other days.

Other– There is space at the bottom to write special events coming up (such as the International Festival).

Here’s how it all works…

Behind each tab, I put all the necessary work/sheets for the week.  She knows to go down the list and do each subject in order.  She turns to the tab for that subject to find her work.  When completed, she checks it off.  She moves on to the next subject.

I am on hand for the subjects that need instruction time.  For example, she begins the morning by working independently on her Bible study and Reading.  Right now, she is reading the American Girl Felicity series and completing a lapbook piece to go along with each chapter.  You can get those here and here.  I’m working on book 3.

 

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Then, when she’s ready for Spelling, English, Math, Science or History, I’m on hand for instruction time.

Over the weekend, I take all of the work out from behind the tabs.  I put the planning sheet on top and place the work in a “graded” basket that I keep in our home classroom.  I record grades in a grade book.  I re-load the notebook with the next week’s work and fill out another planning sheet.

That’s it!  It’s a super simple way to organize your child’s homeschooling week.

 

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