Over the last couple years, it feels like I’ve tried several methods to homeschool week planning. As a person, I am the complete embodiment of the meme “I love routine, until I get bored. I love chaos, until I get overwhelmed.” I understand now after learning about neurodiversity this is basically my ADHD and my Autistic brain battling it out. That said, it’s tough for me to find systems that are flexible yet contain enough structure to actually be useful. Which is one of the massive reasons I’m such a huge proponent of Rhythm. Structure, but not stuffy.
So far though, my favorite strategy to homeschool planning is using what I call the Weekly Bones method.
I made this sheet a printable so that I’m able to either print off a new one every week, or I can slip it into a sheet protector and use a dry erase or chalk marker to reuse the sheet. My favorite method of course is just printing one off on some paper I need to recycle and grabbing a pencil.
I’m going to talk you through all the sections of how I use my sheet. One of the best parts about this tool, in my opinion, is how flexible it is. You can easily play around with the sections to decide how you want to divvy things up or what items are most important to you in your planning. As far as my sample sheet I’ve assigned it for one child. If you’re planning for more than one, it really depends on how you plan normally and if their curriculum overlaps at all or if you need to plan on separate sheets for each student.
Why So Few Categories?
You’ll notice very quickly that my Weekly Bones sheet only has 3 sections technically. Rhythm, Topics, and Notes. In my own experience, I prefer to have one large block for assigning day to day needs, a smaller block to assign priorities and general theme, and then a few smaller blocks to get into the nitty-gritty of what we need to cover in each topic/subject this week. While planners that show every second of the week are great, I tend to then over plan, and when real life comes up during the week (which it will) it hasn’t given me room for Flex Days (I’ll discuss later), or we will miss part of a day and I’ll get overwhelmed that we are behind and not know how to catch up. So, for me, this is an ideal planning situation.
For the Rhythm section of my chart, I have a couple priorities. First, I want to create a list in order of priorities for the week. As you can see on this sheet, playing outside is my utmost priority and math is at the bottom of the list. Usually my priority list flexes greatly depending on what our focus was the past week along with how we are doing in our topics. The week before we had a lot of errands and head work, so this week I want to make it a priority that we get our Nature Studies back to the forefront and spend lots of free play outside (especially since the last of summer will be gone soon). I also noted that I want to base our “in breath” in the mornings and “out breath” in the afternoons. If you’re familiar with Waldorf speak, that mostly means I want to do the bulk of our schoolwork, headwork, reading, focused time in the morning, and leave the afternoons unstructured and open play. Again, this may seem simple, but personally, reminding myself of how I want to structure our priorities as well as structure our day keeps me in focus.
The title Topics could easily be interchanged with Subjects. I only have four spaces here even though we have more than 4 topics during our week. However, anything that is just working through a book or in our morning basket, I don’t take the time to list those out here.
It’s pretty self explanatory how I’ve treated the topics area, but in each block I put the name of the topic and then listed the activities or goals for what I’d like to cover in that topic this week. I don’t map out when every single thing needs to be done, I just list them so I have a check list to work through during the school week.
Now for the largest part of this sheet, Notes. You can see that I like to use this vertical column to work through our weekly plan. I also make sure to list when we will need to utilize a flex day. I like to also list in the weekend even though we rarely do any formal schoolwork on weekends, and here’s why. Often times when my husband is home on the weekend we will take farmer’s market trips, field trips to the zoo or lake, we will go on a hike, or other enriching activity. I like to note these activities on our Weekly Bones because I may pull that experience into the next week’s Nature Studies or other topic. Also, if we do have something planned for that weekend, like we did this week with a park trip, I want to utilize that time during the weekend and do our nature journal after. So, that just took some pressure off during the week of fitting in a second park trip during our school week. Basically, while our school days are M-F, learning is not confined to that schedule.
It took me a while to start to feel comfortable with using Flex Days. For us, a Flex Day can be a few things. Perhaps we have a lot of errands or appointments that day and simply will not have the time to sit down for a school day. In that case, I schedule it out on our Weekly Bones, that way I don’t over-schedule our week and we have to play catch up from a day that we never were going to be able to fit it all in anyways. I also like to have a Flex Day prepared for the week because sometimes, your kids wake up in a bad mood, you have a migraine, they don’t want to do anything but play, and honestly fighting with them over learning when they could be deep in play and working through things is far more beneficial for everybody. Flex days for us can include board games or card games, special flash cards, cooking together, taking a park day, play dates, or field trips. For me, being realistic and acknowledging that there will be days when nothing “goes right” and having a plan for that means less frustration for me and my kids.
I keep my typical Flex Day activities in a Rubbermaid bin so I don’t have to schedule out or plan out what our Flex Day will be on the sheet. If you’re interested in seeing what our Flex Day Bin looks like, be sure to let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoyed my post on using the Weekly Bones Method for planning! Below you will find a high quality image you can save and print, or you can click the image and receive my free printable sent as a PDF to your inbox!
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