When we started summer vacation a few weeks ago, I had big plans for myself. I was going to take most of June and July to regroup, reorganize, set priorities for next year, and get everything planned.
I looked at the calendar and realized that it's almost July. Where did June go? I remember some hot sunny days, dozens of loads of laundry, a couple of road trips, a bunch of hot baseball games, a little bit of housecleaning, a week of Vacation Bible School, and early mornings spent running. Believe it or not, though, I did manage to squeeze some school planning in there too. Thankfully, I had my new Schoolhouse Planners from The Old Schoolhouse store to make my job easier, so it hasn't taken me two months to get prepared for next year.
Last year I used the regular planner and reviewed it in my Confessions of an Unorganized Homeschool Mom post. I later reviewed the Middle School Planner and how I used it for Addison (Old Schoolhouse Student Planners). This year, I chose to purchase the specialty planners and started my summer organizing by using the Intermediate Schoolhouse Planner for Addison.
Before I started, I already had an idea of my goals and priorities for the year. From an academic standpoint, we'll be working a lot on developing good writing and composition skills. From a practical standpoint, we'll be focusing on keeping better records and being more organized in general. This Planner has given us the tools to make these practical goals a reality.
The first step was to print off a full-year's worth of calendar pages. This planner has the options to print each month as either a single page or as a two-page spread. Addison has fewer commitments than I do, so we chose the single page version for each month. My hope is that she'll pay closer attention to scheduled activities and not just try to remember all the dates in her head. Perhaps this year we'll avoid the conflict we had a few weekends ago when we unknowingly signed up for a church camp out of town on the same weekend as her end-of-year choir concert.
As I worked through the planner pages, I found the tools to reach the rest of our goals. One major focus area is keeping better track of things she has done. I know that at one point last Spring we were trying to remember all of the service projects she had done so we could submit them for an LTC (Leadership Training for Christ) award. This year, we have a form in her planner to record those projects/events. I'd also like to start recording the time she spends on various activities so that we'll be in a habit of tracking things that can be used in awarding high school credits. To start small with recording things this year, I printed out a Log Sheet for her Physical Activities. This year (Addison's eighth grade year) will be mostly for practice, but in future years, she'll need this sort of log to prove that she's done the work needed to earn a PE credit. This year, she'll also be recording the time she spends on her Fine Arts activities -- this week's Vacation Bible School drama rehearsals, weekly choir practices, performances, etc.
As for her schoolwork itself, we still haven't figured out which format will work best for her assignments. So far I've printed off a few different options to see which planner form she likes best. For instance, I'm drawn to the form that has the assignments divided into sub-sections with room for multiple Math and Language Arts assignments per day, with a whole week on each printed page. We could also use a simple assignment sheet for each subject, each one containing a list of several weeks worth of work to complete. Another set of forms has room for seven subjects per day, 5 days per week, 36 weeks for the school year. This is the most-basic option, but it still might be sufficient for what she's studying this year. I just don't know which one will be most attractive to Addison and most user-friendly once we start using them. All of them will help me achieve my goal of recording what she has done throughout the year. All too often we get to the end of the school year with a stack of used books, a pile of ragged notebooks, and a vague idea of what she has studied. Next year, I hope that we'll have a more complete record of what she learned, one that's neatly recorded on paper and not just floating around in our heads.
And so here it is... Addison's Student Planner all ready for next school year. She personalized the cover with pictures of some of her favorite CDs.
According to my initial plans to take June and July off for a summer vacation, I have another month left to get everything ready for the rest of us to start school in August. Based on the way my July calendar looks, I think I'll be printing planner forms for the rest of us next week and I'll definitely be thankful that it won't take the whole month to get everything ready. I'll be sure to share what I found most useful once I get them finished.
Disclaimer: The Old Schoolhouse offered me a free planner in exchange for review purposes. I had already purchased The Intermediate Student Planner and was so pleased with it that I chose to do the review anyway.