Saturday, December 31, 2016

Keeping Our Homeschool Organized (VCF Week 1)

Welcome to the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair!  After taking a year off from participating, I'm back again because our schooling methods have changed quite a bit in the past year to accommodate a chronically ill high school student.

This year the VCF is hosted again by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds; please pop on over to visit her and see more of the VCF. In the coming weeks, the Virtual Curriculum Fair participants will be discussing their homeschooling methods and curriculum choices for all age students. Before starting the details of our various curriculum each week, today we are discussing how we learn or how we make school happen.

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017 - Keeping Our Homeschool Organized

I have a single student who is a freshman in high school, so our school days look a little different from families with younger students. With a chronically ill student, it can be hard just to keep moving forward in school some days. We have found organization and preparation to be the best way to keep our school days moving. I make extensive use of Homeschool Tracker Online and while it is my organizational tool of choice, it is just the tool. Advance lesson planning and communication with Amber, my daughter, are the real story.  Honestly, that is the single most important aspect to making our homeschool run smoothly.

With Amber's chronic illnesses and many regular medical appointments, our weekly schedule is hectic and somewhat random. We've tried to set daily lesson schedules, but those usually fail in the first week and just serve to make Amber feel anxious because she is behind according to the posted schedule. Still, I need some way to ensure we haven't over committed for the semester with too many subjects or activities. Instead I set a tentative schedule inside HST Online, that is not visible through Amber's account, to use in arranging our at-home days. This not only allows me to keep a mental tab on the subjects to be completed, but I can even schedule my lesson plans directly to Amber's account.

The real work, though, happens at the beginning of the school year with updates done for second semester. I spend time planning out the lessons and details for all of Amber's subjects before school ever starts for the year. These plans are then entered into HST Online with every minutia included. Yes, it does take a little time, but saves me effort during our hectic school weeks and keeps me sane when dealing with daily life. The few hours I spend in July and late December are well worth the gain throughout the rest of the year.

Having ready made lessons specific to Amber enables me to plan our school days on the fly based on the available time and Amber's current health, while knowing all the work she is doing continues to move her forward without any wasted effort. I simply schedule out what lessons I want her to do each day, and she picks up the lessons from her HST Online account. All of the assignment details are there and she is able to work independently through many of her subjects. The added bonus of this is when there is a sick day for the teacher, she is able to continue her work with little disruption.

For my own benefit, I add any inspired instruction ideas or projects to the appropriate lessons either during planning or when they come to me. I also make note of supplies we may need to acquire ahead of time or optional video courses to use in place of the regular lesson.

Even though some days I feel utterly disorganized and unable to handle anything school related, in reality the advance planning keeps us on track throughout it all. Staying organized through planning truly is the key to our success.

Next week we will be talking about how we have tackled high school Language Arts, specifically for a child who intends to major in English!

Miss a week? Take a look at some of the other posts from the 2017 Curriculum Fair.

I invite you to see how my fellow bloggers learn in their homeschools (note: all posts will be live by noon EST, Jan. 2nd):


  1. Thank you for sharing how you've made planning work in your daughter's unique situation.

  2. Making plans that far in advance sounds wonderful.

  3. Don't know what I would do without plans! Especially in the high school years. Blessings to you as you school your sweet daughter!

  4. I do all kinds of research, but I'm not so good at the planning and execution! I like having a general outline of the year though, and I always take some time in January to assess our progress. I know I will have to become a better planner as they get older though.