Time to Plan
After you've evaluated the past year, it's time to make a plan for next year. Don't forget your overall plan for high school. If you want to design your own classes, you may want to review Basics of Putting a Class Together and What is a High School Credit?. What classes does your teenager still have to take before graduation? Are their classes that she would like to take? Are there things that you still want to teach her? The years are flying by, but there is still time to do that special project you've always wanted to do with her--weave it into a class!
At the beginning of every school year, I start my planning by dreaming big--the sky's the limit. Yes, most of what I write down gets chopped but sometimes God does amazing things to let homeschooling dreams come true! One year I wrote down that I wanted my family to play sports together for fun. No one liked my idea of spending family night playing basketball or volleyball instead of watching a movie. But, a family friend started Sunday Sports on Sunday afternoons where children and adults from our church play soccer and football for four hours every Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, the whole family goes, but my children go almost every week! It's great exercise, fun, and takes care of that P.E. credit for high school.
Why don't you try it too, after a simple prayer for God to give you wisdom, creativity, and vision! Jot down everything you can think of that would be awesome to do in the coming year. Write down books you'd love for your teens to read and other books you'd love to read aloud together. (Yes, you can still read aloud together in high school!) Think of adventures that you'd enjoy with your teen. Now, walk away from the list for a few days and keep praying about the coming year. Let this be the most prayed-over year ever!
In Light of the Overall Plan
What classes/credits does he still need to take before graduation? Pull out your overall plan for high school. Are there any skills (e.g. writing) that he needs to focus on? Make sure to include these skills in class assignments. Find out what enrichment classes, dual enrollment classes, and coops are available for your teen to participate in next year. Do any of them interest you or your teen?
Creativity in Teaching
Gather all this information together and decide what would work best for your family next year. If you decide on American History, then brainstorm different ways to study American History. You could do an online course, unit study, traditional textbook, audio CDs, or join an American History coop. Your teen could blog, create a web site, write a song, or produce a play as part of his American History class.
Family Time for Teens
The Big Picture & Little Details
Think about each class separately, but also think about how all the classes fit together. Is it possible to consolidate schoolwork? When Jenny Rose was writing essays one year for writing, I had her write her essays on topics from other classes she was taking (character, Bible, history, economics). She printed each essay (final copy) twice and put one in her writing folder and one in the other subject's folder.
Laying Out the Year
To make realistic lesson plans and assignment check-off lists, simply figure out how many weeks you will be doing schoolwork, then subtract one or two weeks in both the fall and spring for "catch up." Believe me, life happens and you need these weeks! Divide all the work between the weeks that are left. Always give yourself breathing room at holidays, especially Christmas. If you are reading a traditional textbook, you would just divide the chapters among the weeks in the school year.
To keep things simple and sane, try using a three-prong folder with pockets for each class. This is how I handle lesson plans, record keeping, and keeping track of hours. Three items are whole punched and placed on the prongs: course description with books, assignments, and grading requirements; assignment check-off list divided by months and weeks; and a chart to keep track of hours completing class work. All writing papers, notes, tests, and other assignment go in the two pockets. At a glance, I can tell if my child is caught up on his work in the class and I can see how many hours he is putting in each week. I color code the folders and keep them all together until my teen starts college. This is how I am color coding this year: light blue-literature, dark blue-writing, green-sciences & labs, red-foreign language, yellow-history, government, & economics, purple-Bible, white-character, and orange-music, art, & electives.
Once lesson planning is finished, everything goes into folders. The folders are maintained by your teenager. If you schedule a weekly meeting time, bring the folders and walk through each class together to trouble-shoot any problems and discuss what he/she is learning. Yes, it is really that simple, as long as the folder is used, hours are logged, and assignments checked off!
Happy homeschool planning!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)