Friday, January 22, 2016

School Planner 2016

I shared late last year that I was purchasing a planner this year & have shared glimpses of it as I've used it over the course of the past 3 weeks. I've also received a fair few questions about it so I thought I'd do my best to give a bit more information about it, a month in, & see if that clears things up. We'll see how we go.. I don't know that a month is a fair judgement call on a planner, but I've not had any issues with it so we'll see if that opinion holds true through the entirety of this year, shall we?

This is my functional planner, meaning I don't do a lot of decorations in this planner like I might in my personal planner, I purchased a large school planner because I knew I'd need the space. This size allows me a good amount of room to both write out our plan as well as other intentional events that the kids might have in a week. It's pretty straight forward with how I use it, but here we go..

The planner layout is pretty simple for the entire year which makes it very easy to plan ahead. I've entered our book basket for Term 1 several weeks in advance as well as things that I like to remind myself of daily. Those go in the left hand section that's normally entitled Weekly Prep. I used included stickers {with the planner} to cover up the original wording that was there. The weekly check-list above it gets filled in the weekend prior to starting. It might be reminders of outings or events; it may be a need to renew library books. Anything really.

I also fill in the 2 top most sections the weekend prior as well. One generally has a fun quote the other has a Bible verse that I want to focus on for the week ahead. There's also a calendar there in the top righthand corner. I tend to highlight the week we are on so I can tell at a glance if I need to be prepared for something in the week following.

I don't fill in the small boxes on the lefthand side. I left them blank on purpose when I ordered & I've only filled them in once or twice & have found that filling those in or leaving them empty doesn't matter. Who knows, maybe I'll make quick stickers for them or something, but in general empty or full isn't going to change how I use the planner.

The remainder of the 2 page spread is filled out with the things we plan to accomplish in the week. Some colourings are due to which person does what, others are just so I can see things quickly at a glance. I tend to start with our Bible & Current Events, then move down through math, language arts, science, & then history. Admittedly we actually do history & science prior to math & language arts, but again it doesn't matter how they are labeled as long as they are in there.

We use a prescheduled curriculum so I don't write that whole schedule back out again. I'd find that tedious & pointless. Rather I write which books we'll be using because some of those books are ones we add in! This allows me to see at a glance as I tick things off that we didn't miss something.

Again, I fill out this section 2-3 weeks in advance. It's not that big of an issue because I leave certain areas blank. If you look closely at the above picture you'll see that while I have things like Math, History, & Bible Study written down the weeks, pages, & chapters are all blank. That means if we don't accomplish something in a week previous we'll just carry it over without the need to freak out that I got ahead of myself.

The large section left blank, for now, is where I'll scheduled in the kids assigned readers. I didn't fill in the titles for the week above because that's 2 weeks away still & there's a high chances that people could have finished books up by then. If not no biggie, but if they do it's equally no biggie because I didn't write the title in there. It will only take me 5 minutes to fill in that week now!!

As we accomplish things each day I tend to highlight them in a specific colour. One colour per day allows me to keep track of which days we accomplished what. We did really well this past week & pretty much everything was accomplished on the assigned days. We finished one of our books 2 days earlier then planned so you'll see that indicated by green highlighting on Wednesday & Thursday. Sometimes I do use checkmarks to indicate something happened or was dealt with. This is especially true for our book basket section, all though you can't see it in the photo above.

I used the monthly divider in a variety of ways & have some for other months slightly filled in {Nature things to look out for}. I included 3 goals we work towards at the top. Our January goals were pretty simple for easing back into our school year. I may use them, in later months, for character traits we, as a family, want to focus on as well as goals, academic or otherwise.

The next section was set up for birthdays & events. In our home we don't have any January birthdays so I used it to list Nature things to be looking for in the summer around here. Not that we're planning to go out looking for the sharks that are stirring up trouble around here, but we often find their egg casings on the shore.. The events section has days we're off in a month, this is generally based on when my husband is off. If he's off we're off & if he's not we may work or we may take off depending on where we are in our schedule. We like to have fun sometimes too!!

After that there was a Things To Remember section where I made a notes for myself about prep-work for the new school year.. From when our 1st Term would & getting the kids planners set up as of the time I took that photo. Underneath that I headed the two empty sections with Notes & Bible Verse. In the notes section I jotted down the local school's 2016 term schedule. We won't be on the same schedule as them this year, but it allows me to see at a glance if it's a great weekend to plan a getaway or not. We prefer quieter camping trips to be honest. The Bible verse is one I use to keep in the front of my homemade school planner so it seemed fitting to stick it in there for January.

I wrote our Bible reading schedule, for school, down in the back in one of my empty checklist pages. This allows me to quickly flip to that page each week & transfer those chapters to our main planner. I tend to highlight what we've accomplished so that I don't accidentally look at the wrong week & write down something we've all ready read. I used some thin pink washi tape I had to make the columns on the front & back of that checklist.

Other check-lists in the back are dedicates to book lists for the kids & how much of each subject we hope to accomplish each term. It's not necessary to plan it out like that, but it helps us stay on our toes if we have a plan. "Can we skip spelling today?" "Sure, but if you do then you won't finish this book by the end of Term 2.." "Never mind, let's do it!" I've found that seeing it all written out can really keep us on target.

I've been using the calendar pages to mark our weeks & days. It's not a requirement here, but it's always fun to say, "Wow, we've been at this for how long now? I also jot down special things that happen, accomplishments, & such. In a former planner those would have gone under Evidence Of God's Grace & Accomplishments. It's a fun way to look back at the end of the year & see everything that's happened. The dots are part of my colour coding system, & before I'm asked yes the picture is blurry on purpose.

Finally there are 2 note pages in each month. I wasn't sure how I'd utalise those at first & put off jotting anything on them for a while until I had a think about it. Truthfully I love the extra note pages in any planner & was so frustrated when I had a planner that only had 2 pages for extra notes. I mean 2 pages?! Either I write a lot or the author of that planner didn't write much of anything. Ha! Because I have a huge section of note pages at the back of my planner I opted to use the 2 pages in each month for "reviews".

At the end of each week I jot down a bit about our lows & highs, more details about the accomplishments & special things that are simple sentences on our calendar at a glance page. I might write down areas of concern or things we need to work on for one reason or another. Considering most months have 4 weeks I figure I can use half of each sheet & get a review for each week of the month. Again, the picture above is blurred on purpose.

For now my only disappointment is the cover. The design itself is fine, I picked it because I rather like banners. I have some hanging around my house & have since long before they became the "in-thing" to do.. No, the real disappointment is how easily it picks up marks & mess. It's also not firm. It's like comparing a hardback book to a softback book. I do like a planner to be floppy in that it's not a struggle to turn & flip through it, but I also like the cover to be firm enough that when I pick it up it doesn't feel like I'm losing it either. This isn't something that will keep me from using it or would discourage me from recommending the planner. In fact I'll just print out a cover I designed & laminate it in some heavy duty laminate & attack it to the front of my planner. That should resolve the issue without too much trouble.

Hopefully that answers some of the many questions in regards to how I'm using the planner. I do love it & have found it to be the easiest planner to use thus far, & let's face it I've used a fair few! This one has ample writing space for me to schedule 2 kids without issue & still have room to add more things in there then I might if I had to schedule in more children.

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