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.
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!