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Homeschooling with Little to No Prep

woman-tearing-hair-outI was talking with a friend the other day, and she commented that she didn’t know how I was doing grad school, blogging, and doing everything else as a wife and mom, plus homeschooling and all the prep involved for two grades. I answered that really have very little homeschooling prep for the most part, even in the summer, and I don’t do any daily prep.

Each summer I do a separate Excel spreadsheet for each grade level that lists each subject for that year at the top and the days of our school year divided by weeks down the side. We do about 32 weeks each year with 4 days in each week. Some subjects end sooner, some go longer.

On that I spreadsheet I include the lesson we will do for each day. This is basically to keep me accountable and organized, and pretty much all it involves is opening up the textbooks and typing in Lesson 1 on day one of week one, Lesson 2 on day two of week one, etc. into the spreadsheet. Some books, like Latin and math, include a review week occasionally, so I chart those in the spreadsheet. Some books, like Story of the World, use chapters instead of lessons, so I group some chapters together so that they basically fit into our 32 week structure. We do not do every single subject every day, so that factors in as well.

With history, I’ll also look at the lessons for the “real book” recommendations, cross-reference to see if our library has them, and put on the spreadsheet which available recommended books I’d like us to read with the lessons for the week. Then about 2-3 weeks before we get to that lesson, I go through and request those books to be put on hold for me at our library branch (since it often takes at least a week for books to arrive from other branches).

I also include Recitation on the spreadsheet, so I’ll choose our poems for the year (mostly from this website) and chart a new poem about every month. That was a long explanation, but the whole spreadsheet takes me just a couple of hours, and I usually just fill it in as I buy the books.

For handwriting, right now we’re using a workbook, so I just put a page or two on the spreadsheet for each day. Next year, when I begin StartWrite, I will have to make my copywork worksheets ahead of time, so that’s some extra prep. However, I’m doing StartWrite over a copywork book because I can both choose the font that I’ve chosen for my kids to learn and also correlate the poems, Bible verses (in my version of choice), and passages of literature that they’re memorizing with their copywork. It just makes sense to me.

Other than my spreadsheet and, starting next year, StartWrite copywork worksheets that I’ll have to make, the only other prep I do is every summer I print off all the coloring pages and maps and math speed drills and things that the kids will be working on along with their main texts. I hole punch them and put them all in a big 3-ring binder divided by tabs. I get them out as we need them, and when the kids finish them, they put them into three-ring binders that they have for each subject. I also print out all of our poems for the whole year and put them in a notebook with our timeline song, grammar jingles, and things that I’ll need that stay the same from year to year. I also laminate anything new that I think needs to be laminated (spelling, Latin, and math flash cards, for the most part). This doesn’t take much time at all. And that’s all I do!

I have no daily prep. I don’t need it. And that is because of all the fabulous curricula that we use. I just can’t even tell you how much I love all the books we use (and not all from one publisher either) and how they have made our homeschooling journey so simple! For the most part, everything we use was originally designed for homeschoolers. We do have a couple of exceptions to that, but that does make a difference in a lot of subjects. Every single book is very teacher-friendly. It’s easy to follow, and you don’t have to be a complete expert in the field to teach it. All of the books we use are open and go, which is so great! I have to pull out the worksheets we need for the day from my binder, but that’s all. During the school year, I’m prep free!

I’m looking forward to sharing soon what curricula we have used and loved for Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade and what we will be using for Third Grade.

Becky Aniol

About Becky Aniol

Becky holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and music, a master's degree in Christian education, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Christian education. She taught classical upper school grammar, literature, and history and lower school composition and grammar for two years, elementary school music for one year, and Kindermusik classes for four years before the birth of her children. She now loves staying home with her four children, Caleb, Kate, Christopher, and Caroline and homeschooling them classically.

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