Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This Year's Paper Plans :: Schedules, Chore Charts, Checklists, and More

Instead of my annual monster post on our schedules, I'm going to break this post into three parts.  Today I'm sharing our routine and checklists, and then next week I'll chat about my Weekly Planning and Pre-Reading Session and our Weekly Meeting.

Also, if you really looking for more nitty-gritty details beyond what I have here, you might take a look at my scheduling post from last year. You'll find that they're very similar.  :)  I have changed bits here and there, but our routine really is roughly the same.  You can also take a look at my Year 5 and Form I plans from earlier this fall for more information.

As usual, my organizational strategy consists of a series of paper forms that keep our home humming along:


:: A Weekly Routine / Average Day Schedule / Average Day Chart.  I put a little more time into forming our weekly routine this year since I added another student and wasn't sure how I would fit it all in. We follow this time table roughly on the days that we are home.

Why schedule down to the quarter hour when I'm a mom with lots of littles in need of flexibility?  Because it gives me assurance that it is possible to meet all our goals for the week: there can be short lessons, outside time, chores, and free time, all without chaos or stress, if I'm inclined to stick to this.  This schedule provides an order to rest in and a set of guideposts on which to peg my day.  For example, I plan math and copywork with my Form I kids first thing in the morning and aim to stop for prayers and breakfast at 8:30.  I don't care what order we do math and copywork in, and I'm changing diapers, pouring milk, and snuggling littles during that block too.  But I have a guideline that keeps me from overdoing morning work while holding me accountable so that we're not left with unexpected to-dos at the end of the day.

That said, I built ample margins into our routine.  Not listed on here are bathroom breaks, stops to switch out the laundry, feeding the baby, and so on -- those happen within the school blocks.  That means my kids are actually schooling for less time than this suggests.  So in one sense it is representative of our assignments and our time table, but in another sense we are much more flexible than an "average day schedule" can express.


:: My Weekly Checklist.  This has all the work that I am responsible for.  That includes all my Form I kids' work, since I don't require them to be independently responsible for anything but chores.  And it includes a small bit of my Year 5 kids' work, since I do require independence of them.  Listed here is the Year 5 work we do together, and then the rest of their work is on their weekly checklist.  Last year I had everything on mine, but this year, it made more sense to streamline my own lists so that they represent what I personally am responsible for.  I just print out a new one of these each week and spend a bit of time during my Weekly Planning Session filling in any blanks and making any adjustments.



:: My Term charts. In the past, I typed the assignments for each book for each week onto my weekly checklist.  Now that I'm juggling three years, the extra time that takes isn't worth it to me.  So I just have the book listed and I look at the actual reading assignment in one of two places: our schedule bookmarks (in every assigned book) or my term charts (in my school folder, and the Big Kids have copies in their binders too).  These are taken from the AmblesideOnline website and adjusted for our needs -- they have editable Word documents at the top of each year's booklist that I download and tweak for our terms.  So easy!


:: My kids' checklists.  My Year 5 students have a robust weekly assignment sheet that our homeschool couldn't run without.  It lets them know what to do and suggests when to do it.  I divided it into days this year because now that they're managing their own time, it is a help to them to know how much to get done on a given day rather than confronting an overall list of weekly items.  And they also don't need as much flexibility as I do since they're not taking care of the baby, working around naptimes, and such. (As you can see above, my checklist is not broken into days.  I need the flexibility since I'm managing the littles.)


My Year 2 student also has an assignment sheet, simply because she begged for one. ;) I think it's probably a good habit for her anyway, as she is more productive and cheerful when she sees what needs to be done.  But it's not technically necessary since she does all her schoolwork with me.  (My Year 1 son doesn't have one, though now he's asking too.  Maybe next year.)


:: A Pre-Reading and Planning Sheet.  This is the bit which I have gotten lots of questions about this fall since I have been posting about my weekly planning session on Instagram.  It's going to get its own post next week.  Lots of details to come!  Simply put: this is what I use to structure my weekly planning session (for both school and home) and my weekly meeting with my Year 5 kids.  I also keep my reading notes on the back.


:: Last, our Chore Charts.  We adjust chores every summer so that we can iron out the kinks before the school year rolls around.  The weekly schedule is posted on the fridge for easy reference.  Yes, this is a very thorough list.  Yes, it needs to be that way for things to run smoothly!  Everyone knows his job and things get done much more efficiently.  When I didn't spell things out so clearly, I was constantly sorting squabbles, bossing around, and just generally having to micro-manage.  Now the chart micro-manages for me while I play with the baby. ;)  I also built several inspection times into my day for when I'm noticing my kids are slipping in their habits and need some oversight.  And that "Bi-Weekly Chores" list at the bottom is for a bi-weekly slot in our chore schedule and for assigning extra chores for misbehaving kids. (Let's just say I have to use those more often with some kids than with others.  Ahem.)

~~~

These are the paper plans that help me hold myself accountable and let my kids know what to expect.  Our household couldn't run without them!

But I can't forget my usual caveat: the truth about organization is that there is no one solution to your organizational problems.  Effective organizational strategies have to do with knowing yourself and your family really well: your needs, your home, how your mind works, how much you can handle, how your kids thrive, your personality, your goals, your vision of success.  If you start there (rather than with these forms here!), you'll be much more likely to find a plan that works for you.

Still, I share our plans because I think examples can be very helpful and give curious moms a place to start.  And because I enjoy gleaning ideas from others! :)  I hope this gives you a glimpse into one way of structuring a busy home life.

Back with lots of pre-reading, planning, and meeting chat soon!

29 comments:

  1. Wow, Celeste. Just wow. You are one impressive lady.

    I use various paper schedules to keep organized, but certainly nothing this impressive. May I ask what computer program you use to make all these charts?

    Your chore chart was of especial interest to me. I have noticed when you share photos showing the inside of your home, that it always looks so tidy...I assumed that you must have a maid since you are so busy with all your children. But no - the children are the ones doing the vacuuming! Fantastic. I think I need to get my children doing more chores because they do very little and frankly, our house is a wreck. :)

    Thank you as always for sharing all this with those of us who might not be *quite* as organized as you are. *grin*

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    1. My average day chart was made in Excel, but the rest were just made in Word with tables and such.

      My kids do a good amount of chores and after years of training, are very proficient. It is a huge blessing to our family. Years ago, I read a wise homeschooling mom of many say that she didn't do any chores that her children could be doing instead. We moms have so much on our plates that kids CAN'T do: errands, homeschooling, baby care, baby gestating (ha!), keeping the home stocked with everything from food to printer cartridges to q-tips! So as soon as my kids are old and able enough, I pass things on to them. The nice thing is that the more kids we have, the more hands there are to help -- so it doesn't end up being too much on any one person.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your organization methods! I love looking at different charts like this. I can't wait to hear more about how you do your weekly planning and prep. My oldest is in Year 3, so I am not too far away from a day when I will have to seriously pre-read and have her be more independent in her schoolwork.

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    1. Yes -- when my Big Kids hit Year 4, it was really a turning point for us in terms of how I approached our planning. Even though my kids had been doing quite a bit of their reading on their own, they suddenly seemed old enough to take on responsibility not just for reading but also, slowly and over time, for managing their day, doing their own mapwork and written foreign language exercises, and so on. It has been wonderful to have them more independent, but it also takes some different organizational strategies for mom. :) Always tweaking and stretching, right? :) Thanks for stopping by, Nicole!

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  3. Thank you, Celeste, for taking the time to share your forms. It is so helpful to see how others manage their home. I agree that having everything down on paper with so much detail is helpful even when it is not always possible to accomplish. I always enjoy and learn from reading your posts.

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    1. Thanks, Patty! There is something about having it all there in front of me that helps keep me motivated. :) I know others might find it overwhelming to have their day structured, as if it's something they can't live up to, but somehow I find it inspiring! :)

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  4. I loved this post. Thanks so much. I am managing AO3, AO2 and two AO0s, and I used to be efficient. Now I am patient. Will look back at this post many times, I am sure. Thanks for sharing - it's a big encouragement, and practical help.

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    1. I used to be efficient and now I'm patient -- ha, love it! I actually say that I used to be efficient, but now I just aim for effective. Because efficiency often requires everyone to comply, no accidents or interruptions to happen, and real life to take a back seat. Effectiveness can happen in the mess, the chaos, and yes, the happy moments too. :) Glad to be of help to you!

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  5. So all I can say is that this just gave me a major, "Well duh," moment. I've been typing on my checklist all the books' specific assignments weekly. It's incredibly time consuming. Just look at the term chart, Virginia Lee!!! I'm claiming baby brain and lack of sleep for this. 😬 And you dust high places!! Go, Celeste! I pretty much pretend high places can't possibly get dusty. Cause I can't see them, ya know? 😝

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    1. I'm with you on the dusting, VL! :) What I don't know won't hurt me! (sometimes)

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    2. Hahaha -- ladies! Too funny!

      VL, last year I typed the assignments in because I really liked them all in one place and it was worth it to me. This year it's not. ;) The more grades I am schooling at once, the more complicated that gets, so it makes sense to switch it up a bit!

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  6. First of all, I think you should probably be beatified for scheduling math before breakfast. Although I hope you don't schedule it before coffee! 😝 But I do have a couple of questions... Did I miss who's assigned to do dishes on a regular basis? Also, how do you handle laundry and picking up? I'm about to try Erin's method of assigning every kid age 9 and over his own laundry. We spend so much time doing chores every day, and it just seems like shoveling in a snowstorm. My 11 year olds are now in charge of cleaning the kitchen after breakfast and sometimes it takes them a good hour, when all is said and done.

    I have been thinking about moving to a checklist for myself, too. I notice that you're only reading from each Form 1 book once or twice a week?

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    1. Ha! Math before breakfast is pretty much required because my 2yo or my 1yo usually sleeps in a bit and my Little Girls like to read books and draw during that time. That means there's a slightly-less-chaotic block in the mornings that I pretty much HAVE to take advantage of or I wouldn't be able to fit it all in. So math it is. ;) Definitely not before coffee though!! :)

      Yes, for Form I, I read from each book about once a week unless it's a long selection that's going to take more than 20 minutes.

      I actually have a second chore chart that explains laundry and dishes -- I almost posted it as well but decided not to because it's a bit of a challenge to decipher (I use abbreviations for just about everything, so I wasn't sure how helpful it would be). Simply put: we do laundry daily, 1-2 loads. I start one load in the morning after Xavier collects it from around the house and a second load after the kids come in from playing outside before naps. Vincent is in charge of moving loads and getting the laundry from start to finish. The kids fold while I do school readings and they're narrating. Each of the older four kids is responsible for putting away part of the loads before bed. (Vincent does master bedroom and towels, Gianna does downstairs, Cate does girls' clothes, Xavier does boys' clothes.)

      For dishes: each of the older five kids have dining chores. Cate empties the dishwasher in the morning before breakfast. At breakfast, Cate and the younger ones clear the table, Vincent vacuums the dining room, Gianna does dishes. (This takes about 15 minutes.) At dinner, everyone except Gianna clears, Cate vacuums and washes table, Gianna does dishes, Vincent washes the counters. This takes 30-40 minutes, I'd guess -- they're not super efficient. But I don't have to do any of it, so I don't mind. ;)

      I'm happy to send you the chart if that would be clearer for you! We are constantly tweaking our system, but I am so pleased to have laundry and dishes pretty much completely off my plate. :)

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    2. Thanks, Celeste, for explaining all of that! I like your idea of having all the kids fold while you read. Our laundry tends to break down at being switched and the folding. Technically, my 17 year old is supposed to remember to keep it moving, but in practice that's not happening. In her defense, she has more work than everybody else for her online classes and she does lots of extra "stuff" I ask her to do with the 3 year old and the baby. I'm just looking to increase our efficiency because time is at a premium now with so many out of the house therapy sessions.

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    3. Hi Celeste! Thank you for sharing these details of how you run your household! The charts are inspiring me to get my young children more involved in chores while they are young and excited! Would you mind emailing me your second chore chart? I am seriously copying everything exactly and then tweaking for our own home and children. My mind just isn't working it all out, and I just need a good starting place!

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    4. Jennifer -- email me at joyouslessons at gmail dot com and I'll send you a screenshot. :)

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  7. I love your planning posts. Who am I kidding? I love ALL planning posts ALL the time. ;o)

    I may copy your Mama's Planning Sheet--I've seen it on your blog before but haven't really needed one. I think I do now! HA!

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  8. My eyes *MAY* have become crossed. ;) LOL! You and Catie, Celeste, are my scheduling HEROINES. Wow. This is so great! :)

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    1. Ha! My eyes got a little crossed too! :) Although once we start living it, it gets a bit more understandable. LOL

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  9. Thank you! I have a small question. The circles are to be checked off, yes? In one of your charts, some of the entries have two circles, wondering how they are used? This whole thing is a tremendous blessing to me.

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    1. Yes, those are checkboxes. On my kids' checklist, the two circles refer to a reading and then notes after a reading -- for history readings, they make notes on the back of their checklist of people/places/events they want to add to their history notebook at the end of the week. So that second box reminds them to do that. In the case of having two boxes next to each other before "oral narrations," it just means they have two readings to narrate during that slot.

      On my list, I have two circles for dictation -- one is for introducing the dictation on Monday and one is for actually doing the dictation exercise with them on Thursday. Same for Italian dictation. Latin we do twice weekly, so that has two circles also. In the left column, I have two circles for some of my Form I students' work. That means we have two reading sessions for that book because the selections are long (for example, we'll read for 15 minutes on both Monday and Wednesday or something).

      Hope that makes sense!

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  10. I think my eyes went a little crossed too! I have never commented before, but am a frequent visitor to your blog. Celeste, you are basically my Mom hero. We have 5 kids, ages 1 to almost 9, and I feel like I am always floundering. You are so organized and smart. Thanks for sharing parts of your life with us. Maybe someday I will reach Mom Level: Celeste. One can hope!

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    1. It really is just managed chaos here, Sarah, I promise! :) My brain just happens to work better with everything laid out, out of my brain and mouth and onto paper, but that doesn't translate to a miraculously quiet and calm household all the time, truly. It is still noisy and I'm still herding people around. ;) But it certainly does help *me* feel like I'm not going crazy, and that's something, right? LOL I thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to comment -- it is nice to "meet" you. Merry Christmas! :)

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  11. Thank you! I hope y'all had a merry Christmas and a happy new year! When I first saw your average day chart, I felt quite intimidated by it. Then I decided to make one for myself a few weekends ago and it turns out, they aren't so different! I think I was focusing on your older kids' schedules and comparing them to my two oldest, who are actually both still in Form I. Once I realized this and looked at your two in Form I, I realized our time is parceled out quite similarly to yours! I like to think of mine as an "Ideal Day" chart, because the week after I made it... not a single morning went according to plan. But since I had the schedule in my head, our day did flow better and we still got everything done, just not exactly as planned. Anyway. All that to say: thanks for inspiring me! I love to come here and see what you guys are up to.

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    1. I'm so glad you found a way to make your schedule work for you, Sarah! And yes, it's more accurately an Ideal Day chart! ;)

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  12. Greetings! Do you type out the entire year of weekly school plans? I think I can only do a week in advance right now because from past experience I find that sometimes an assignment (or two!) has to roll into the next week and my concern is that it would take a tremendous amount of time to reflect that in the following weeks that have been already created. Thank you so much for your encouraging posts!

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    1. Hi Heidi! No, I print a term at a time in case I need to make changes. I find that doing a term at a time gives me enough wiggle room to not have to redo a whole year's worth of prep work if something doesn't work out quite right BUT allows me not to have to be planning each and every week. Hope that helps!

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