How Lesson Planners Can Keep Your Sanity

How Lesson Planning Can Save Your Sanity
Time to Lesson Plan

It’s no secret that having a plan will get you where you want to go.

“Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Click To Tweet

When I first started homeschooling I never put much thought into lesson plans. I had focused on the approach versus the NEXT lesson. Actually, it seemed like a waste of time to lesson plan when the plan was to go to the next lesson or page. Why would I need to write a plan for that? It seemed pretty straightforward. Until the curriculum I purchased had a lesson that assumed my boys already knew how to do a task or it was boring or the boys didn’t understand. I hated when the curriculum had this great idea that required that I have a tennis ball, string, and a paper clip! My lack of planning lead to frustration and feeling overwhelmed. I was concerned that I was hurting my sons’ education.

It became obvious to me that I was going to have to change. I had to start looking ahead. At first, it was lesson planning light. That’s when you take your text and divide it up into days. You know: Monday read page 1-5, Tuesday read page 6-11, etc, etc. When that wasn’t enough my plans became more detailed with activities, other books, videos and more. It helped but I was still feeling overwhelmed. Then I learned about routines or what some people call rhythms. That changed my whole lesson planning world.

The What and When

Lesson planning will allow you to see the whole picture of your school year. From what you are teaching to when in the year you are going to teach. If we are planning on reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle I might assign it when we will be studying astronomy or physics. To integrate the study of our chosen literature selection and astronomy study I will choose to schedule this for spring or summer. Then tasks are assigned to each day. You might already be doing this when you plan your weekly schedule. For example Monday I clean out the refrigerator and Friday I go grocery shopping.

Behind the Why (the goals)

I’m just curious, do your kids ask you “Why do I have to . . .” Yeah, mine too. To be honest, when they first started asking me I really didn’t have an answer. I had to think about it. The answer when I was asked about literature was easy because I LOVE reading books. They are fun, relaxing, exciting, poetic, introspective and my list goes on. How about A Wrinkle in Time? As a parent, I am hoping it might guide my sons to imagine the possibilities in the universe. Maybe ask questions about the father, Mr.Murray and his career. These are my personal goals and at the same time address the countries common core standards. Educational reasons are: expand vocabulary, develop a world view, improves memory, creativity, writing skills, plus critical thinking. You can just say “It will make you even smarter.” I don’t know (ha, ha, ha), that worked for my oldest son.

Teaching Literature, Me?

So how do you go about teaching literature? This is the best part of homeschooling because you can do what works best for your child. My oldest son liked workbooks. I don’t like workbooks. Essay questions were the answer. I could ask guided questions where I believed he needed to understand or get the most out of that may apply to him. In A Wrinkle in Time the character, Charles Wallace, is unsuccessful at defeating the enemy (I don’t want to ruin the story for you)I would pose a question regarding the character emotions and how the character could have handled it. My second son is what people like to call a kinesthetic learner or hands-on learner. Together we would paint or draw a scene that stood out to us. This would give me an opportunity to talk with him about the story. Both boys had also created a clay caricature of one of the main characters of The Giver. Then there is the standard book report. To make this even easier, create a list of projects that can be used for each literature study. This will give you something to easily refer to while organizing your lessons.

Saves Time

This doesn’t read like it will save your sanity but it will, I promise. Here is what a lesson plan would like using this approach:

  • Step One: Select your subject.  In our example the subject is literature.
  • Step Two: Determine your time frame and when in the year you are going to cover the subject.
  • Step Three: What goals do you want to achieve with the subject.
  • Step Four: Develop a routine.

Day 1 Intro to book and author

Day 2 Discuss book i.e. characters, etc. ,

Day 3 Activity Day

Day 4 Writing,

Day 5 Work on Vocab and catch up
This is the routine you will do for every literature study. Easy right 🙂

Week One

Day 1: Talk about the author and share what you enjoyed reading and your favorite characters. Suggest reading the first chapter aloud.

Day 2: Have questions prepared to ask about the characters and answer questions if any. Encourage further thought about the story.

Day 3: Draw one of the characters using the medium of your choice.

Day 4: Write a summary of what you have read.

Day 5: Work on vocabulary and catch-up on any projects you need to complete.

Week Two

Day 1: Talk about Meg (the main character)and how her school life relates to his.

Day 2: Have questions prepared about the characters and answer questions if any. Encourage further thought about the story.

Day 3: Have him create a scene from the story that stands out him. He can make a diorama, draw, animate or any other method he desires.

Day 4: Select a character, different from the one he drew, and develop a list of the authors’ passages that she used to describe them.

Day 5: Work on vocabulary and catch-up on any projects you need to complete.

With this routine, if it is necessary to demonstrate that your child has met common core standards you are able to do that.

To save time you have to spend some time.  Now I focus on what is next on our plan.  The frustration and feeling of being overwhelmed are no longer issue.

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