Lesson Plans Suck

I have homeschooled for years. I’ve used various books, printables, documents, and spreadsheets. Microsoft Excel was the most successful for me over the years.   I inevitably ended with a number of useful resources, but a lot of wasted time.


Point of Failure #1:

I tended to schedule too exactly in my earlier homeschooling years.  I used several different types of lesson planning books.

I would find myself erasing many weeks or attempting to squeeze items into a more condensed time period with little success and much frustration.  Therefore, the lesson books did not work.  I even attempted to schedule a few weeks at a time, but I would certainly end up without a schedule at all. I have a life that is not totally enveloped in lesson planning.  When the plan takes longer than the day, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Point of Failure #2:

I tried to keep a daily journal and a weekly journal.  The daily entries would be forgotten in favor of playing outside or working on projects, both personal and professional in nature.  I switched to weekly entries to only find that by Friday that I couldn’t remember Monday.  Does this sound familiar?  If you add in multiple children, how much time would you spend writing/typing each day to record progress?

This failed because of time and my inability to commit to sitting down and actually recording the events of the day.  I could not even remember to do an entry after the assignment was complete.  I found it tedious, and I wanted to whine!

Point of Failure #3:

I printed various sorts of printables that were not fixed to a day or a date.  I had, at this point, learned that dating a plan was a sure path to failure.

I painstakingly scheduled each and every day by hand.  I filled in the blocks for 180 days for each subject and book. This seemed futile, especially because I could type ten times more text than I could physically write, but nonetheless I continued and finished.  Unexpectedly, I found that things were completed too quickly or not enough time was allowed for others.  I was a terrible time manager, and I did not have an easy way to correct or to reschedule.  Of course, I attempted to adjust this plan by trying to fulfill a weekly need based on a physical division of page numbers, lessons, or content.  This method was, by far, the most successful hands-on system of planning, and it could have worked better except that you needed to factor in my habits and peronality.  Nobody is perfect.

Point of not-total-Failure-but-wanted-more #4:

Finally, I modified my hand-written method by using an Excel worksheet and workbook.  This is by far the best method that I have encountered.  I could move items around.  I could insert.  I could delete.  I had flexibility.  The idea of flexibility was not something that occurred to me until I had begun using Excel for scheduling.  I think that tables in Word could have provided a very similar experience too.

For a number of years, this was very adequate.  I was very satisfied.  However, I did not like the number of worksheets in my workbook.  I had a worksheet for each subject, for attendance, for grades, et cetera.  I began using a mix of printables and Excel.

I believe what finally irritated me was that I did have a terrible time producing daily or weekly lists for my child.  I knew what was scheduled, but my dear child did not.

I cannot say much for the physical appearance on the screen either.  It did not matter how much color, bold lettering, or italic lettering that I added.  The text appeared to blend together.  I even tried coloring the cells themselves by subject and by book.  I must say once I went to the extreme with formatting details that reading was much easier.  Yet, it did nothing for printing.  I needed to be able to print daily or weekly assignments much faster.  I needed a printed version to archive in our portfolio, a state requirement for us.

What I had were a compilation of Excel worksheets, Word documents, and printables.  I was always printing, adjusting, and marking a sheet somewhere.  I am a Nerd.  I just wanted a techie solution that I did not have to invent.  I suppose that my final planning approach was not a failure, but rather it was not what I wanted.

The Solution!

I spent a great deal of time reading on forums about lesson plans.  I spend a great deal of time there anyway.  I should make sure that I walk away with something.  Well, I did.  I came away with the overwhelming need to purchase Homeschool Tracker Plus!

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Filed under General, Lessons

3 responses to “Lesson Plans Suck

  1. I use Sonlight so that I can just open the book and go. I would never survive my homeschooling journey if I have to plan it all out.

  2. I use a syllabus or two from Hewitt Homeschooling for this very reason – open and go. Well, for the most part, I don’t tweak it much. 🙂

  3. Pingback: My Lesson Plan Search | The Learning Trunk

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