April 11, 2015

How I've Organized AO Year 4

I tend to change the way I organize each school year - not really because it isn't working, but because I get bored with looking at the same. planning. pages. every. day.  I also change notebooks around because they get full, or don't get used at all.  Here are some changes I've made in the past month as we've eased into AO year 4.

I was using a paper planner for my week.  I would look at my spreadsheet for the term, check we were on track for the week we were on, and fill in the blanks for each subject at the end of the previous week while everything was still fresh in my mind.  I know many prefer Sunday evenings for this tasks, but by then I've forgotten what chapters we just read!

Anyway, I got tired of writing things down each week, so decided to print out the plans ahead of time.  I took one sheet of my spreadsheet for just the readings.  As you see below, I included the week number on the left, and five days in our week.  I put day numbers instead of Monday through Friday, though, so if we have a difficult day or field trip somewhere, we can do "day 5" on that day, which is just free reads in the reading slots, and stay on track.  This sheet is slid into a plastic page protector, so the markings you see are dry erase pencils.  I started off not checking things, but it was hard to remember when he started wanting to skip around, so by the third week, I was marking each item.  After week 4, I'll just print out the next part of the spreadsheet and can toss this one, or save for our physical records.

In the same page protector, on the other side, is the weekly sheet.  Day 5 here is marked as optional, but we can usually get a few check bubbles filled, even when other activities are happening.  I put the dates above for illustration purposes, and because I take a picture at the end of the 5 days for our records.

On the left is every single subject that we include in our homeschool.  An X means we didn't get to it, and the numbers in the "Maths" row are the lesson numbers (he takes about 2 days per lesson).  "DL" and "RS" in the "Spanish" row are DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone.  By each "Read", I have a suggested subject, but they don't always work out exactly - we follow the list above.  I placed Rosetta Stone on the same days as Typing and Singing, as all three of those are done on my computer, and I'd rather not have him on it often, but all at one shot.

I have a suggested focus area for Math Facts ($, addition/subtraction, and multiplication/division) but have not yet been consistent in this area.  "Read aloud" means he reads to me a page or two from a school book or poetry, his choice.  "Read alone" is reading a chapter in a simple chapter book to himself.  All other readings I am still reading aloud, including Shakespeare (twice weekly) and Plutarch.

Hopefully you can see the balance.  If he is going to play on the piano, its done after math to release tension that inevitably causes.  We choose  either timeline or map work, depending on what the readings that day ask for.  I have daily subjects mostly at the top of the page, but I also have this in an order we can follow from top to bottom.  We don't always go in that order, as I do let him choose, but if he's at a loss, I simply choose in this order.  I tried to evenly spread the subjects that are once or twice a week out so that about the same time is necessary each day, except Day 5.

 As you can see, we had a field trip and then a homeschool egg hunt in the same week, so things were skewed - it was a 3 day week, with day 4 completed this past Monday, April 6.  (Then he got 4 days of spring break!)  So, rather confusing, but it doesn't change the fact that we got it done, and always knew what was left to do!  The nice thing about this list is that I can simply wipe it after taking the photo and be ready for the next week without having to write *anything* down, and he is able to take ownership of the bubble-filling, which is good for his confidence and fine motor skills.

Now, in addition to my one sheet wonder above, I do have some notebooks.  We have a notebook just for math that we pull out daily, instead of a textbook and workbook.  I have a Spanish notebook with a nice curriculum printed out in it, but we aren't currently using it.  And then, I have a folder where I store art and music, which I'll say more about below, and a miscellaneous notebook where I store everything else, but only pull out about once a month.

This is what I started with - a place to keep the art prints when we were done with the artist.  I would use one page protector for 2 art prints, so the 6 prints of a term took only 3 plastic protectors.  It made for a nice little book, but the one inch binder was more than full after three years!  I didn't have a good system for hymns and folk songs, and didn't always print out the lyrics, but only some of them.  I took the ones from the past and put in the back of the folder above, then started anew.

 I found a graphic online and wrote my own for the binder's edge, so it makes me want to look at it. :)  Then I set to work on filling it.  First, I gathered all the hymn and folk songs and artist's prints from the past and current term.  I put the hymn facing forward, and the folk song facing backward in the same page protector, followed by a page of art prints.  In Ambleside Online, there is a hymn and folk song scheduled each month, and 6 prints per 12-week term, so it works out great!  This way, he can look back and see previous artwork and have his memory jogged by the music pages.  Here's a couple pictures where I am trying to help you see what I'm talking about.

I hope that helps some of you!  I realize that with multiple children, the bubbled checklist may take some tweaking, but I think if each child had their own it might work okay.  I think you'd only need one Art & Music binder for the family, so it might work out as described, unless your children expect their own as keepsakes.  What do you think?


  1. I was thinking of doing the same with our Art prints! It felt wrong to just put them away. A nice album won them so the kids can go back and look at them sounds lovely!

  2. I always enjoy seeing how other moms organize and schedule homeschool stuff. We're about to begin year one and I've been racking my brain trying to figure out a system for organizing and storing copywork, art, music, memory work, etc. I like your art and music binder!

    1. Thanks! Here's a quick answer to how I store the others. For copywork, I keep small notebooks with the size lines he needs, and he can write in those. One lasts him several years at this point. For memory work, we use the Simply Charlotte Mason method of a box with dividers in it, and review 4 sections each day (daily, odd or even, day of week, then day of month: Daily, Odd, Wednesday, 21st, for instance). As daily is learned it gets moved back for reviewing less often. So far, I haven't removed anything from the box, but I am up to 2-4 memory cards in some of the "day of month" tabs.

  3. Wow! You are very organized! I like the idea of the bubble check off list. That would be helpful for both of my daughters. Your art and music notebook is such a wonderful idea. Both my daughters play the piano and one also plays the harp. That would take our music/composer study to a whole new level if I printed music like you do and put it in a binder. Thank you for sharing your ideas!


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