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The Great Planner Debate: Teaching Homeschoolers the Art of Independent Planning

I remember the first planner I used. I was in the sixth grade and my school issued everyone the same planner, complete with dates important to our school already printed in the correct pages. Of course, this was back in the dark ages when kids and adults still used paper calendars, but I thought it was pretty cool. Our teachers were training us in the fine art of keeping track of ourselves, which included school work assignments, club activities, and anything else we were supposed to be doing. This little planner with the school mascot printed on the front awoke a new found love within me.

Fast forward an incalculable number of years and I have tried it all… the digital calendar, the paper calendar, the fill-it-all-in-yourself calendar, the make it on the computer and print it off calendar and the no calendar. After all the trials, I still prefer the paper calendar, but am forced to use digital ones so that I can communicate with others in the 21st century. As a homeschool mom, I would like to introduce my kids to the fabulous organization a planner provides, but I am still debating the best way to go about it.

In our current schooling situation, my two middle grade kids are at the age where I want to see them show more independence in their days. They each have half size binders with a weekly assignment chart front and center. (You can read more about that binder here, in case you are curious.) I fill out the assignment sheet before we start school on Monday morning and we all use that as a guide during the week to track our progress. When I designed the chart, I purposefully left as much room along the margins as I could. We use this space to write in our after school or weekend activities, and any appointments or changes in our regular schedule. At the end of the week, this assignment sheet moves to the back of the stack, which creates a record of all the work we have done for our end-of-the-year records.

I know all kids aren’t alike and most are in different stages of gaining independence, so I am trying to learn the fine art of the gentle push. I want to push them to practice the habit of staying on top of assignments and responsibilities, but they are actually responsible for very little at this point in life. Places where they can take more initiative in using this system can be found if I look hard enough. We all three drool over the planners in the stores at the beginning of the year, but haven’t needed them with our current system. My goal is to brainstorm ways to reconfigure their current assignment sheets to provide them more space- or different space- in which to track themselves. Maybe I will even ask them to fill in their sheets from a master I provide on Monday mornings.

Your turn: At what age did you insist your homeschoolers become masters of tracking themselves academically? Do your kids use personal planners? What have you found that works for your style of homeschool curriculum?

Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at