Beginners Guide to Homeschool Lesson Planning with Google Calendar

There are many advantages to lesson planning and keeping your sanity is one of them.  When I finally came to my senses it was back in the middle ages (late 1990’s) of easy to use online lesson planning printables.  There were some that I truly liked such as the free planners at DonnaYoung.org.  She also created an Excel spreadsheet that was simple to use.  The only downfall to online printables and spreadsheets is having to write everything into the planner or a lot of copy and paste.  However, It was still more efficient than the other options.

I don’t recall where the idea of using Google Calendar came about but I thought it was a brilliant idea. It was one of those “Why didn’t I think of that.” moments.  At the time I was already using a pre-planned curriculum and while our homeschool would have run much smoother if a lesson planner had been used I didn’t try it until this year.  Sometimes I wonder why I waited.   I can color code, repeat days without using “copy and paste”, share and easily add unexpected activities and lessons. It will make your homeschool life easier. You can watch the short video or read how I plan my lessons with Google Calendar below.

“If I had my way, I would remove January from the calendar altogether and have an extra July instead.” ― Roald Dahl Click To Tweet
  1. Login to your Google account.  If you don’t have a Google account you can visit here to create one.
    Login on to Google
    Login on to Google.
  2. Once you have logged in open Google Calendar 
Google Calendar in month view.
Google Calendar

Creating the Calendar

3. On the left side, you will see ADD A FRIENDS CALENDAR.  Click on the plus sign and click the drop-down and go to New Calendar.

Create a New Calendar
Add a Friends Calendar.

4. You are on the Settings page where you will create your new calendar.  This is where you add a name and description for your calendar.  I have named mine Homeschool and in the description, I like to have the school year and maybe the students’  name. If the state you live in requires more information you may want to add it to the description or add a link to a Google Doc that has the necessary details that your state law requires. Save your new calendar by clicking Create Calendar.

Creating a new calendar

 Tip #1

You can share the calendar with your students!  To do that click on the calendar you just created that is visible on the sidebar.  Click on the arrow and a menu appears.  There are several options but for now, you are going to Share with Specific People. Click and on the right, you are taken to the section to Add People.   Follow the prompts and remember to SEND.

Tip #1 Share your Homeschool Calendar
Tip #1 Share your Homeschool Calendar

5. Let’s add your main lesson/topic/unit study to the calendar.  For this, I prefer to be in MONTH view which you can find at the top right between the search icon and the gear.  Select the date you are going to start and click in that box.  You can also click on the RED circle located in the right corner.   A pop-up will appear.  Go straight to MORE OPTIONS. That will take you to the page where you will be able to add all the details.

Adding Your Main Lesson
Adding Your Main Lesson

6. For this example, the main lesson is named LITERATURE/LANGUAGE ARTS.  Because this study will last 4-6 weeks the date range will reflect that.  Select ALL DAY.  Make sure you have your HOMESCHOOL calendar selected not your personal calendar.  You can see that in the sidebar on your right.  Then SAVE.

Adding the main lesson/unit study/theme
Adding the main lesson/unit study/theme

What you are seeing here is how the calendar looks with the main lesson/unit study/theme/ for the weeks that it is being studied.  Time to add the assignments for your study.

Homeschool Lesson Planning
This is the MONTH view showing your Main Lesson/Unit Study/Theme

Creating the Assignments

7.  To create the assignments in your lesson plan have the calendar in WEEK view. To switch to WEEK view go to the drop-down menu at the top right between the search icon and the gear.  Choose the date and the time you will start the assignment.  Click on that location and the details box will pop up again. You are going to select MORE OPTIONS.

One method to create lessons.
Creating the assignments

8. This is where you enter the name of your lesson.  To make it easy to read for our homeschool portfolio I name the event; Lesson Plan and then the topicIt looks like this Lesson Plan: A Wrinkle in Time.  

9. In this example, we are going to have the class show daily, Monday through Friday, on the Lesson Plan Calendar and just for 1 week.  Select the date of the week and the time the class will start and what time the class will end i.e. 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm.  The dates should be the same.  Below the date and time selection, you have the option to click off ALL DAY or choose what days the class is going to be on.  click on the down arrow and click on  EVERY WEEKDAY.

10. After the dates and times are filled out then you can add the assignments for the week in the description.   You can read how I detail this in my blog post about lesson planning here.

The completed lesson plan in Google Calendar

This is how it will look after you have added the class to your Lesson Plan.

Tip #2

Color code each class for easy reading or color code each student.

Color code
Tip #2 Color code your classes and or your students.

After you set up your lesson plan in Google Calendar you will see how simple this is.  Watch the video at the beginning of the post then read through the guide.  Share how you use Google Calendar for lesson planning for your homeschool below.  I’m sure there are some creative approaches out there!

How to Motivate Your Son to Read

A Happy Boy Reading Books

After my oldest son moved away to college he confessed to me that classic books are a far better read than some of the nonsense published today.   My oldest son also told his Grandmother that he enjoyed poetry because I used to read poetry to him and his two younger brothers.  Yes, I did pat myself on the back and couldn’t be happier.  I felt successful.  If you noticed I have three boys and each one is different.  You know how that is, children are unique, and maybe that’s why you homeschool. To customize your child’s educational experience or maybe you purchased pricey curriculum and you are determined to get your son to read the material.  But it is not a simple process to customize or follow a curriculum.  If your son is not interested in the topic you are likely to feel him digging his heels in the dirt and your hair falling out.  What are we to do?

Go to the Library

When we first started homeschooling I had the fortune to learn about  Lifestyle of Learning an approach to homeschool that resonated with me.   A suggestion from the author was to take your children to the library and let them select books that they would enjoy reading.  This has been the best idea to motivate my sons to read.  Not only did they voluntarily read but I got to know their interests better.

Read-Aloud

Many of you may already have a special time to read-aloud together.  I have heard from many homeschooled children that this was a special time and a happy memory for them.  When your children are not reading on their own, it is an opportunity for them to hear great literature inspiring them to read quality literature in the future.  This is a great opportunity to share your love for reading and another time where you will discover your child’s favorite genre.  An important key to reading aloud is to not make this a drudgery.  Most young boys are active and will gladly sit while you allow them to do a quiet activity while you are reading.  My oldest son enjoyed sitting next to me while the youngest two built with blocks and colored.

Book Club

One of the homeschool groups I was a member of had the wonderful idea of a book club.  It was a book club for boys but I don’t remember if we just all happened to have boys or what.  Keeping up with your peers is an incentive to do about anything.  The boys met at our library (45 minutes from where I lived).  I can still see the big smiles on their faces.  I forget to mention that I was responsible for the book club.  Our first meeting was fun.  Jokes were told while the boys shared about what they liked to do and laughter filled the back meeting room as they ate cookies.  The first book was Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary.  They just thought Ralph, the character, was the neatest thing.  The boys read the books and enjoyed the comradery.

Reading Incentive

When I worked for a homeschool correspondent school we started a reading incentive program.  When the student read a certain number of books, depending on the grade level,  a small prize was given.  For each book read, a link to the bookworm, a paper creature stapled to the wall, was added with the students’ name and the title of the book.  The bookworm ended up twisting and turning through the office.  We had a lot of happy kids and satisfied homeschool parents.  To do this at home you will want to have a start date and end date.  Let’s say you decide that it will last for three months.  Your son is 10 years old and says he hates to read.  You want your son to feel accomplished.  Remember, the goal is to create a love for literature.  If reading 3 books would be an achievement for him then that’s his goal.  When you share this with him and he thinks 4 would better and that’s what he wants to do than follow his lead.  You know your child best.  If you believe that he will feel defeated if he doesn’t read four books,  then make it 3 books and 4 books would be a bonus.

Read, Read and Read

Read, read and read some more.  There is nothing better than a model like yourself.   If you enjoy reading then more than likely so will your child.  It can be hard though when boys don’t have a male role model that reads with them or is seen reading.  This is true across the board for many areas in a boys life.  You can research this further in The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  In my household, I am the big reader, not my husband.  Oddly enough my sons enjoy a good book but with video games and social media, it is a challenge.

Goal Chart

Not much different than the reading incentive idea is to use a goal chart to track the books he reads.  This is a nice visual that can motivate your son to complete the chart.  What is different from the reading incentive is that you can have a goal of 6 books for the year but have 12 on your goal chart.   The idea is much like a game.  Once the goal of 6 is achieved seeing that you can go further your son may think “I can do one more.”  and so on.  Of course, he may read the 6 books and be happy with that.

Be Positive and Encouraging

No matter if your son reads online magazines, articles, graphic novels or classic literature, recognize that he is reading.  Never be judgemental about what he is reading (within reason).  Take an interest and perhaps read what he is reading.  Be positive and encouraging.  He may not want to read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens but instead, he would rather read The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey.  He is reading and that is a good thing.

These approaches have been collected from seasoned homeschoolers and they work.  The hardest part is finding what will work for your son.  And I hate to tell you, what works today may not work tomorrow.  You may not be aware that all the effort you put in today will be seen years later, like me.

What are some ideas for motivating your son to read?