Simply Convivial

classical home education for life

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.

homeschool-checklist

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?

homeschool-checklist2

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.

homeschool-checklist3

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:

weekly-checklist4

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.

homeschool-checklist5

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!

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And now, from you:

  1. Hi Mystie~
    When you refer to the kids’ math pages that you put on their clipboards, are those just their math lesson pages for the day or is it drill work? Can you expand on this for me, or direct me to where you’ve written about this before?

    Thanks,
    ~Stacy

    1. Hi Stacy! That is their math page for the day from their workbook (MUS). Sometimes I give them a drill page also as a bonus. :) Then I just write on my list what I gave them that day.

  2. I really like this, Mystie! It’s a great balance of planning and flexibility (and I need flexibility!) Spiral notebook checklists a la Sarah Mackenzie have been working well for my kids, but I think a master list like this would help me be better at checking in with my oldest in particular, as she works off by herself most of the time. Narrations sometimes get forgotten. :/ Do you have any pointers on actually making the checklist for an Excel-challenged person (I’m assuming that’s what you used)? I love pretty checklists, but don’t know how to make them!

  3. Virginia Lee

    I’ve got to say I’m impressed you managed to fit EVERYTHING onto one page. I have similar stuff on my checklist, but my checklist is multiple pages. I am nowhere near as concise as you are.

    Basically I have one list for each child containing 6 weeks of their schooling. Then I check things off under the week that we are in. So my checklist is the same for 6 weeks, but one per child. I only print my new lists during break week. Then I have our schedule printed and within that page is my personal stuff to check off.

    This is just one week, but you include everyone. Hmm. So interesting how we can actually have such similar tasks, but organize them differently. Like I said, your list is more concise. I did mine the way I did because I thought it would help me see progress of each specific child. It does at that, but I do love the light feeling of yours.

    I print a weekly checklist for my older kiddos that they are responsible for. Those I have found a format that I LOVE. As for myself, I’m wondering if I would prefer your list better. Hmm. Something to bookmark at least. =)

  4. Virginia Lee

    I also have to say, you make me laugh with your fondness of filling in bubbles standardized test style. That comparison actually made me cringe. You enjoyed standardized tests hmm?

    I really like striking through items. I do check marks for daily items and then strike through it all once the week is complete. Since I have 6 weeks worth on a page it helps me see time flow. What is not striked through is how I know if I cut too many corners. Or that life is not going to allow for what my mind wants to happen. Ha!

    These posts really do make me slow down and evaluate my processes. Which I would NOT do otherwise. So thank you.

  5. I like that yours is portrait, mine always ends up landscape. I like the circle checkboxes, I use squares, but the circles seem more elegant or artistic or something. This is an intriguing setup, too. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Libby jane

    So, you keep their chores entirely separately from the lessons? I know you have explained this before…

  7. Libby jane

    How much free time do your kids get? Do you do the list however long it takes, or cross stuff at some point in the day, if it is just not happenning?
    I feel like they need an assurance that they will have down time, and also accountability around actually doing things promptly. They tend to draaag things out… And …stall. I know right where they get that!

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve known I’ve needed to make something like this for quite some time and I’ve been rolling it around in my head. Using what you’ve created here as my template will be such a help and time saver for me. I love your blog(s)!

  9. Thanks for sharing your checklist Mystie!

    When I first started homeschooling, I did all my planning with pencil/paper. Then I transitioned to typed plans. However, this year, our 9th year in homeschooling, I’ve resorted back to some paper/pencil planning. I do have printed checklists for the kids, but I write what we do each day in an old fashioned spiral bound planner. I’m not loving it and may go back to typed. I love the neatness of the typed page!

    Blessings,
    Melissa

  10. Amber brown

    I love it!! I look forward to looking at every thing more closely once my kids go to bed tonight! Thanks for taking the time to post this for all of us!! Bless you my friend!!!

  11. Hi Mystie! I somehow managed to delete my last (super long and gushy) comment. I came across your IG account somehow and now your blog and I cannot explain how exciting it is for me! I live in South Africa, where homeschooling is small and new and Christian classical education is literally unheard of. Your blog is such a huge help and encouragement! I am a young mom with 3 littles all 5 and under, and I am at a bit of a loss of what to be doing. My 5 year old is learning to read, but I’m not sure what else to be doing or when to start doing more formal work with her. She is bright girly but happiest sloshing some paint around and making plans to create things. I was a teacher before I had children, and I am rearing to go! Ha. I am certainly the most excited about school in our home:-) What would you do if you were in my situation? Littles and no bigs yet. Particularly, what would you do with Circle Time? Do you have any preschool/kindergarten posts you could direct me to? Thanks so much for all your writing! Also signing up for your new course right now!

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