the CHOC Board
a Christian Home School Resource Directory for the extended Portland Oregon metro area
Getting Started: Why and How
Know the Law
Deciding What to Teach
Deciding Which Curriculum
Planning Your Homeschool
Real World Solutions
Teaching the Three R's
Pitfalls to Avoid
Planning Your Homeschool

Homeshool 101

     How do I set my School Year?
     How do I keep school records and do lesson planning?
     How do I assign grades?
 

HOW DO I SET MY SCHOOL YEAR?

It's pretty easy. Get a calendar. Decide how many days your family would like to school (the standard public school year and most text books assume 180 days--but Oregon has no set attendance requirement for homeschooling).

Decide if you want to school year round with breaks (like college terms) or follow the standard school year (September through May/mid-June).

Decide what days your family vacation will be, what holidays you will celebrate, when you will have other activities that will prevent schooling, etc.

Count the days and adjust until you have your school calendar set. Now take your school unit plans and textbook pages and divide them appropriately over your school year (mark date goals on your unit plan or in your text book's margin or teacher manual). It's that simple.

CHOC Board Tip:  We recommend allowing some "flex days" between units and around difficult chapters to prevent frustration if your child ends up needing a little more time on a topic or you discover your ambitions were unrealistic. 

Save time by not over-teaching topics your child already has mastered and not over-assigning work problems or activity. Most text books, especially math, include ample review of previously taught topics in case a child in an institutional setting missed it.  Almost all texts include excessive exercises for "seat work" to keep the class busy while the teacher roams the room to help those struggling.

 

Often the first few chapters of a textbook (like math) are review of last year's topics, and the last few chapters are a quick look ahead to next year (but will be covered in full next year). Skip those review chapters or  look-ahead sections completely or only cover the topics in them which your child is fuzzy on or which is new material. Giving the chapter test as an assessment tool can help you figure out if your child has any gaps in material previously covered without having to re-teach the whole chapter.

 

Remember, education is about mastering the subject and developing your child's character, not checking off page numbers as completed.


HOW DO I KEEP SCHOOL RECORDS AND DO LESSON PLANNING?

 
This could be as simple as an expandable folder with separated pockets for each subject that "catches" the school work during the year as it is completed. Or it could be a folder which holds a photocopy of the table of contents of each textbook used that year with a checkmark or note in the margin of what your child has completed (and even when, and possibly a grade), you might add to this a list of books read, and a copy of any unit plan completed.
 
Many moms simply keep a daily journal in a diary fashion (especially for the early grades). Or you can type out a daily or weekly teacher planning sheet with what you desire to cover per subject to help you stay focused and then also use it to check off what each child has completed, when, and any grades given, thus turning it into a school record too.
 
As children grow older and shoulder more of the regulating effort, they can be given a daily or weekly assignment sheet which has columns for checked completion and grades.

There are many organizers and planners on the market from the hand-entered type to the computer generated. We recommend using whatever best helps you keep a handle on your workflow and is the easiest for you to maintain faithfully. We also recommend being as streamlined and easy as possible in the younger years, especially during the kindergarten/elementary grades when less record keeping is needed.
 
For the self-generated, paper-type planner, Donna Young has planning tips and free downloadable forms for record keeping.  Diane Hopkins has good thoughts on teacher planning that captures the heart of homeschooling in her articles "Homeschool Teacher's Planner" and "The Balanced Child."  
 
 A Plan In Place is a local business in Salem, begun by two homeschool moms, which will create a customized lesson planner for your homeschool from information you give them. Their website also offers some planner ideas and a generic planning sheet to download.
 
You can see a CHOC Board article for further ideas of making your own planner in Notebook Planner
 
For several descriptions of manual planner systems to purchase, go to the Exodus Books website;
 
Some computer software organizers are EDU -Tracker; and Homeschool Tracker
 
 

CHOC Board Tip: Be creative with your own planner style, especially if you have a computer and printer.  Until highschool grades, I used my own notebook method made up of my Word-generated daily teacher planning sheets which I filled in one week ahead at a time.  

I also had a section in my notebook for each child with "This Year's Goals" that I wanted to accomplish ranging from the academic to character building.  See the CHOC Board article above in "Notebook Planner" to read how I set my notebook up if you are interested. 

We also kept each child's paperwork in a banker type box labeled for that school year--this was more for our interest than anything for legal purpose as our kids loved seeing what they had accomplished--and it does become a momento--it also frequently helped me organize a new unit when I could look back at an older one. Often, your storage space size will decide how much stuff you want to keep.

 

HOW DO I ASSIGN GRADES?


Whether or not you assign grades is up to the preference of each parent teacher. (See our article on "Assigning Grades, the Good and the Bad"). Often grades are assigned for at least the high school transcript.

How to do it is pretty easy. If using a point system wherein a point is assigned for each right answer, take the total number of points possible, divide by the total of points earned. The usual grading scale is: 

A = 90 to 100
B = 80 to 89
C = 70 to 79
D = 60 to 69
F = anything below a 60%

Some colleges and private schools raise the demarcation line by 5% upward such that to earn an A = 95% and above, etc. You can decide if you want to assign pluses and minuses or not (90 to 92 equals an A minus, 93 to 97 equals an A, and 98 and above equals an A plus, etc.)

But you don't have to use a point system. You could assess by a portfolio system that indicates the following:

A = Demonstrated mastery of subject 
B = All basic concepts grasped solidly with beginning mastery shown
C = All basic concepts grasped solidly and demonstrated fully
D = Some to most of the basic concepts grasped and demonstrated
F = Basic concepts not grasped nor demonstrated




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