Saturday, May 21, 2011


I read an email today about scheduling, and suddenly felt a blog post coming on.

Scheduling. At times it is the only way to survive! It can be your servant, or you can become its slave.

The first form of "schedule" I ever used most people won't think of as a schedule. My first form of "schedule" was my daily lesson plan book. Yes, yes, it was a book. We may have owned a computer in 1991, but I don't think I was using it much, and I certainly wasn't using it for school. There was no internet. (Yes, that's right, there was none.) We could not have afforded ink, let alone paper. The paper in the printer was thin, connected, and fed through the printer on the strips of paper on the edges that had holes that went through teeth that pulled the continuous feed... ::sigh:: That was a rabbit trail. This is not a step down nostalgia lane; it is a blog about schedules...

Okay, I was so schedule-challenged when I started homeschooling that I wasn't even using a calendar. It was hard to make it to pediatrician appointments, dentist appointments, etc. because when I tried to use a calendar (write down an appointment), I wouldn't check the calendar daily, so it was pointless. I really had to grow up.

So my first schedule was my black book, probably the same ones used by the public school teacher's (not many publishers considered home schoolers a viable target market back then). So, I can't remember my first one (and don't want to dig it out), but it probably had the subjects down a column on the left, and the days of the week in a line across the top (or vice verse).

My first act of organization was to go through the entire book and put the date onto each day's row on each page. (I never had a calendar handy, and still didn't yet know "30 Days Has September" poem, so I made lots of mistakes, and don't start me on knowing which year is a leap year...)  The Daily Schedule now became my daily calendar. Everything went into it, starting of course with assignments, but I also noted here "La Leche League" meetings, any other type of activity.. It kept me on track. I can't remember now what type of activities we were doing, but there was a monthly home school support group in an evening, things like park days, roller skating days, spelling bees, free days at the zoo, etc. When I first started out, I missed out on a lot of opportunities just because I didn't note them or remember them. I had to learn to just do it.

I used one lesson planner or another for many years. First it was one I got from a friend. Then it was one I bought from a company in Pennsylvania that advertised a "jelly-proof cover" (Ferg N Us). Then it was a notebook from an umbrella group that provided daily lesson plan pages similar to the ones in the Gregg Harris Homeschool Organizer. But all these homeschool planning methods had one drawback: when my plans changed I had to white-out and write over. And when they changed again, I had to white-out and write over. And the ink wouldn't even stick to the white-out; and the white-out would crack and chip and peel.

Then I learned about Homeschool Tracker. It was free. I downloaded it, looked at it, liked it. There was a premium edition that at that time cost only $25, and I had $25 available, so I bought it. But, unfortunately, I just never got the hang of it. Didn't spend the time learning how. Don't understand how to bump assignments; would get triplicates of the same assignment. Don't know how to print out my lesson plans week at a view. ::sigh:: Missed my old paper version, but not the white-out.

I finally got brave. I used to be a secretary. I know how to use Word.  So, I finally created my own 36-week-lesson planner template, and I've been using it (and sharing it) ever since. Maybe some day I'll get brave and take the time to learn how to use my Homeschool Tracker, I don't know. But in the mean time, I love creating my planner on the computer. I consider it a living document; I update it constantly based on what we actually did or didn't do. I usually have a complete printed copy, fairly up-to-date, by the end of the school year to put in the portfolio, but I could also just put a floppy disk with the file on it into the portfolio and call it good.

Keeping my calendar on my lesson planner soon began to dovetail with a general wall calendar kept in a central spot in the kitchen. This way Dad could also know when we had been to the doctor, dentist, eye doctor, or gone on a field trip, etc., and we could know when he knew he would be working late, had a church meeting in the evening and needed dinner promptly, etc.

I love a calendar that I first learned of from FlyLady from a company called More Time Moms out of Canada.  FlyLady recommended these for awhile, but then went to a similar calendar that she makes herself that is also good, but I just don't like it quite as much. It is all purple lined; the other one is black-lined but with color illustrations and free stickers. (I would link the FlyLady calendar, but I don't see it on her website. They must be out until the new ones come in for 2011-2012 -- they are 18 month calendars, as are the More Time Moms calendars.)

When my oldest got to an advanced level of homeschooling, an opportunity opened up to participate in a co-op.  My daughters would attend classes in various homes, at approximately the same time, in different locations, multiple times per week. Various moms then developed schedules to carry kids of up to four families each, so that each mom would only have to drive once a week.

A schedule-savvy (that is s-a-v-v-y) homeschool mom clued me in to how to make a schedule on a word document, with one column for each of us. This became my lifeline, once I had created it. I learned to allow for things I had previously not allowed for, like the amount of time it takes to drive from my house to where I am going.  I just looked through my computer for those old schedules, but it looks like they are gone, gone, gone. Maybe on an old computer. If I come across them I'll try to post a sample.

So, through the process of learning to schedule, I purchased Managers of Their Homes by Terri Maxwell.  I worked my way through the book, did an effort to use that system, but still found my computer schedule to be much more friendly, although the book's ideas were helpful.

From daily schedule, I gradually progressed to realizing how desperately I needed, as well, to stay on top of our dinner schedule. To do this in a healthy way I really needed to learn to eat well on top of it. I found my answer in a year's subscription to Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely, combined with a membership to Weight Watcher's (which I desperately needed to the tune of 40-45 pounds, which I am still in the process of losing).  Now I am done with my year, have a full notebook of printouts of weekly soup ideas, weekly menu plan ideas (six days a week, but I manage to pull a 7th day together in my plan each week).

And just today I learned of another free tool on a website new to me, "Say Mmmm", that has a place to plot out your menu plan, create your shopping list from your menu plan, print both out -- I've been doing all this manually for a year! I'm so glad to have found them!

Well, I don't know why but Blogger is having trouble saving my draft at this point on this blog entry, so I guess I had better post it before I lose all my work. Ahh! I wasn't logged in! That explains it!  Well, anyway...

Hope you have found these ideas helpful!

FlyMama Di

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