As promised, a close-up view of my homeschool checklist
I have had so many requests the last few weeks for a closer view of my teacher checklist. So here it is, as promised, in all its tiny-font glory. This is my master homeschool checklist that keeps us on track throughout the week – provided I look at it and follow it. I’m hoping that writing about it thoroughly here will not only help you streamline your own checklist, but also help me commit again to not only making the list, but actually look at it and use it.
You can download a pdf view of the checklist by clicking on any of the images.
I’ve been using a printed weekly checklist for several years now. I keep it on a clipboard and it lives on the kitchen counter during the school day. I’ve adapted it a little bit every year, and this year in particular I feel very pleased with it. After a few years, I know what is helpful, what isn’t, and what works for me.
This works for me. But it might not work for you. So take everything with a pinch of salt and always adapt to your own preferences, workflow, and situation.
My homeschool checklist: The top row
The first row in my weekly list is for the little things outside school time that help smooth the way. Did we do our morning chores? Did I turn on our current composer during breakfast or chore time? Did I put the kids’ math pages on their clipboards? Did we put our books and papers away before lunch? Did we do a general EHAP of the house in the late afternoon?
I fill in the circles like I’m taking a standardized test. I like the neat appearance that gives, and of course I use a purple pen.
My homeschool checklist: My active teaching time
The next row in my table – because this is just a table in a word processor – is for the subjects I’m actively involved in that day.
The first item, of course, is our Morning Time. The circle next to Morning Convocation is for whether or not we had the time at all. Then the circled letters underneath are for each of the pieces: index card (art/coloring & Morning Meeting), binder, playlist, and reading. Some days we skip a piece, so this helps me keep track of whether or not I’m consistency missing a particular piece or whether or not I cut corners that day.
Then comes the list of the things I do with my 5yo & 7yo. Couch time means our read alouds, their reading practice, and phonics. We do that together on the couch. Then we move to the table for handwriting & spelling. After we do spelling, I write down which day they did.
After that comes anything I do one-on-one with my older boys. These are not the same every day, so having the reminder of what I’m doing with them helps make it happen.
The last items in this row are the group lessons I teach. On Tuesday & Thursday afternoons I do Elementary Lessons, which amounts to a second Morning Time with my older kids and my friend’s (and neighbor!) older kids while she reads to and supervises the younger set. This is where the bulk of our read aloud lesson time and content work happens. Again, the main circle is what I mark off after it happens, and then the letters tell whether or not we completed all the pieces: Geography, mapwork, History, Anatomy, Shakespeare, Bible, Plutarch. Each of these takes 10-20 minutes, because I’m doing my best to implement Brandy’s slow reading approach this year. They also have a writing assignment (homework!) on Thursdays that is due on Tuesdays; that’s what the paragraph circles are for.
Wednesday is Language & Logic, where we’re doing grammar, Art of Argument, & Grammar of Poetry together with friends.
My homeschool checklist: Tracking independent work
Each of my students has their own checklist which they work off of, but I keep track of it all on my list. That way, at the end of the week, I have a record on one page of what was done by everybody for the whole week. There’s not room to have a line with each student’s name, so after I print it, I mark each students’ section with a color-code highlighter like this:
Last year I grouped items by subject and had kids’ initials under that, but I like this arrangement more because then I can see at a glance if one particular child is done with his day or not. The student fills out his own checklist when he completes it, but I mark off their work on my checklist after checking the work and acknowledging that it was done. Only expect what you inspect and all that. If I’m not paying attention, a week might go by and it turns out they haven’t been doing cursive practice or Bible or what have you. This section is my reminder that it’s my responsibility to stay on top of their work and ensure it’s being done.
My homeschool checklist: The weekly section
This year my seventh grader has a number of weekly assignments not assigned to particular days. So I have those tracked in this last section of my list. It’s just like the independent work section, but these items simply have to be completed by Friday and can be done at my oldest’s discretion. He’s learning time management principles by baby steps.
For my 5th grader, we do a Monday Meeting where we test his typing speed, he chooses 3 books to read (one history, one science, one story – he doesn’t have to finish, it just continues to be his pick until he has finished),
Lastly, I keep a section for my weekly prep checklist. These are the pages I need to print or pull out each week so we are ready to roll through our school plans without hiccups – or, at least, with fewer hiccups.
At the very bottom of the page is a Proverb I find most applicable to my role as a homeschool mom: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I need to remember that my tone dictates the kids’ reactions more often than not, and that’s something I can and should control.
My homeschool checklists: Practices that make it work
I never fill in specifics ahead of time. The list says the subject, but not the particular assignment. I write in the particular assignment after it’s finished. This makes the list a template that I can print off quickly and use right away without a lot of weekly prep, it means at the end of the week it’s an accurate record, and it means we’re not ever “behind” on our plans. If something doesn’t happen on a day, I draw a line through it. So I have an honest testimonial about the week on Friday. There are always line-outs somewhere; it’s just a fact of life. Here is an example of last weeks (although this is not typical, because it was the launch week for Work the Plan I purposefully made it a lighter week for my direct-instruction time.
I scan the previous one, make any adjustments, and print a new one on Friday afternoon. This is like a weekly review for our homeschool specifically. Sometimes it doesn’t happen until Saturday evening or Monday morning, but it doesn’t take a lot of time to scan our record and print a fresh sheet.
I keep it highly visible. It has to sit on the kitchen bar counter during the school day so I am confronted with it often. It is my cue to keep going, to not cut corners and “just call it good.” That is my tendency, and it’s one that every year I get a little bit better at overcoming – and, shockingly, it shows in how well we memorize, how much we read, and how far the children progress in math. Huh. Consistency works. Who knew?
I use it as a prompt to keep up with what my older kids are working on. It’s easy to shuffle responsibility off on these kids that are starting to look and sound like responsible parties. But they need the safeguard of accountability. They need to know Mom cares and Mom will check to keep them from cutting corners and calling it good, just like me. When I have to mark off each subject as finished for the day, it reminds me to pay attention and not let them drift. It’s not all punitive, either. Checking in means I have the opportunity to tell them “Good job!” and have conversations with them about their reading. Not all accountability is a bummer; or, at least, it shouldn’t be.
My homeschool checklist: Do you have more questions?
There you have it. Six photos and 1500 words on one weekly checklist. Do you have still more questions? Do you have your own blog posts with pictures of your homeschool checklist? Share them in the comments, please!