Last year was my first year using a full-blown planner to organize my homeschooling. I just needed a couple of charts and an appointment calendar in past years!
Being the “DIY” type of a gal that I am, I couldn’t be completely satisfied with any pre-printed planner or even any of the complete printable planner e-book files out there. Instead, I put together my own planner using free printables from a variety of sources, as well as a few pages I created myself. Here’s what I made for the 2011-2012 school year:
I wanted my planner to be a go-to source of information for school plans and for our other activities. I also thought I would use some custom “weekly planner” printables I made to either plan out each subject or jot down what we did after the fact.
As it turned out, after a few weeks I didn’t use those weekly planner pages at all! I had fun creating something that looked good nice, but it just didn’t reflect the way I actually plan. And while I liked in theory the idea of keeping a record of what we did each day…in practicality I forgot to do it. We don’t need a detailed record to meet any legal requirements, so personal desire did not turn out to be a big enough motivation! (And then I started this blog, which has a nice side benefit of being a different sort of record of our weeks!). (I did replace section of the planner partially with a simple chart of weekly assignments for Miss M. I printed out a chart to give her each week so she could check off her independent work, but this year I may just bind a bunch of these sheets together for her!)
After I printed all these pages, I took them all to the copy center to be spiral bound together. I also had the cover laminated since it was too large to fit in my home laminator.
This year my planner will still contain a monthly calendar for noting family events, a section for meeting schedules and other important handouts, and excel spreadsheets I create to track what I hope we will do when with certain subjects like science and history. I also will included photo-copied tables of contents for all our subjects that are “do the next thing” sort of lessons. I don’t really need to plan out in advance when we will do which math lesson — we always just do the next thing. But sometimes it is helpful to know what topics are coming up. I like having information like that at my fingertips even if we aren’t at home.
I’ll save myself a trip to the copy shop by using regular size cardstock for the cover, and using my pro-click binding machine to bind it. That has the added benefit of being able to re-arrange the pages if needed during the year. I put many of my pages in page protectors last year so I could swap them out if needed (yes, the page protectors worked in the spiral binding just fine!). This year it will all just go in the pro-click spine, and I’ll open it up if I need to swap anything out.
I found several sites helpful for finding DIY planner instructions and tips as well as free planner pages of various types. Everyone has different needs and styles when it comes to creating a planner, but I think most people’s needs will be met somewhere in this list of free printables:
New Beginnings — Lots of Great instructions and printables. One of the most helpful sites I found!
Donna Young — Tons, and tons of free planning pages and charts and calendars. Most are pretty basic in terms of style/appearance, but almost every conceivable column combination is available on her site.
Vertex 42 – Free printable calendars (monthly, yearly, academic year, etc)
Daily Assignment Sheet @ Homeschool Creations – The printable assignment sheet I used for Miss M for the past few months
2012-2013 School Year Calendar — I am using this printable to plan my history units for next year…filling in little squares in various colors for each unit is fun!