It's About Progress, Not the Planner
Monday, 23 August 2021

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We homeschool moms start the school year with high expectations and a pretty new planner. We break out our favorite pens and write out a week (or a month) of color-coded lesson plans. Some of us tackle the daunting task of tearing apart workbooks and collating the work into 180 tidy little daily packets.

No matter our method of planning, we intend to do a lesson in every subject every day. After all, that's the way that the curriculum is laid out. On Monday, we will master expanded form in math class.

Tuesday's creative writing assignment will be spontaneous and delightful. Wednesday will show a marked improvement in reading comprehension.

Thursday's highlight will be a fantastic science experiment worthy of a social media post, and Fri-day—well, Friday is the day for a perfect score on the weekly spelling test. By the end of the week, all of the kids will have finished five lessons in every subject.

Now imagine with me the morning of the first day of school. You feed the kids a special breakfast and then go to the porch to take their pictures by the front door. Once said pictures are posted on the in-ternet, you go back inside to start school, and that's when the trouble begins. By the time lunch rolls around, you realize that the kids haven't completed the subjects that the planner says they should have finished. Is there something wrong with your organizational system? Then 3:00 comes, and every subject is still not done. Why isn't this working? Is there a scheduling secret that you somehow missed?

Why aren't your kids getting everything done? You are faced with two choices: either keep going no matter how long it takes or call it quits and start playing catch up tomorrow. Ugh. Neither choice sounds appealing.

This may not happen to you on day one, but eventually, it will happen. Please know that the textbook authors never intended for your child to do every single thing. They include a variety of activities so that you have options that will meet the needs of your unique child. No one intends for you to do it all every day. You will need to learn to choose from the buffet of resources.

Then count on the fact that your school year will be peppered with a variety of interruptions. Kids get sick. You get sick. The furnace quits. You spend time addressing a heart and behavior issue (again). The internet service stops working. You need to care for an aging parent. Dad has a day off from work. You spend part of the day at the co-op. The toddler is disruptive. You go on a field trip. Someone has a dentist appointment. I could go on.

In addition to the vicissitudes of life, another reason you may not complete a lesson in every subject every day may simply be that your child cannot move at that pace. Every once in a while (and more often for some students), he may need a second day to review and practice new concepts introduced the day before. This is where I want you to put away that planner and focus on your child. What does he need? Review in math? Help revising that English composition? A study session for science? You do not need to move to a new lesson each day. Help your child move through the material at his pace.

Set a time limit for each class each day. Pick up where you left off and make progress. Did you catch that? Progress. As long as your child is working hard at learning, it doesn't matter if you accomplish half a lesson or a lesson and a half. Just keep doing the next thing. Your goal needs to be to facilitate learning every day, not to cross off items on the to-do list. If your state requires a certain amount of completion, keep going until you hit that mark: this might be lessons or days completed. You can check your state requirements here: https://hslda.org/legal.

Friends, I am not against using a planner. I have frequently used one myself. But you must learn to think of your planner in a new way. The planner is where you write your plan. It shows potential for the week. It assists you in getting organized and seeing what's coming up. It helps you juggle sched-ules and keep everyone going. It keeps everyone from getting lazy and allows you to get more done. But you must not let it rule you.

Creative writing, reading comprehension, and grasping math concepts can take time. Give your child time to develop those skills rather than dragging him along without understanding. Don't focus on the day number. It truly doesn't matter if you're on different days in different subjects—plan in pencil. Aim for a lesson a day, and then forge ahead. Deal with the unexpected as well as you can. Help each child learn each day. And at the end of the week, make a new plan. It's all about progress, not the planner.

Meet the Author


Jennifer Lont - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant
www.homeworksbyprecept.com/Jennifer-Lont