Lesson Planning 101

I may be an anomaly, but one of my favorite things to do is to write lesson plans.  I enjoy looking over my book selections, dreaming about added activities or hands-on projects to reinforce the lesson, and bask in putting it in a simplified order to meet my goals for the year.  Even when I purchase lesson plans or enroll with a homeschool program, I change the format to meet my own expectations and desires based on the particular needs of my children or family.  For the first few years I enrolled my daughter in Seton Home Study School and followed their lesson plans.  I would pencil in the plans each week for my daughter and I to follow and make the necessary adjustments for sick days, field trips, or spur-of-the-moment outings.  Pencils are my favorite.  I can make changes without throwing my OCD tendencies out of control.  After adding in a few more students, however, hand writing a weekly lesson plan quickly became a burdensome task.

Excel worksheets became my new best friend.  I have written detailed daily lesson plans in an Excel workbook.  Each week became its own new worksheet within the workbook.  I saved them from one year to the next and may adjustments for the new student fairly easily.  I would like to note that some programs allow you to purchase their lesson plans, like Mother of Divine Grace; while others only allow you use of the lesson plans for the current student, like Seton Home Study School.  I only save and reuse those plans that I purchased or wrote on my own.  Seton actually has an excellent lesson plan printer for currently enrolled students.  I import the days and weeks I want into Word and then cut and paste to get it to one or two pages.  I must say this option alone makes it worth enrolling in their program!  Just remember to delete them at the end of the year so you do not violate copywrite laws, and be sure to return or destroy any printed lesson plan material.

So, if you aren’t enrolled in a program that provides lesson plans how do you go about writing them?  For me, simple is better.  Let’s take Math because it is one of the easiest subjects to break down.  Math is typically done five days each week for 32 or 36 weeks depending on your school year.  36 week school years usually include one week of review for each quarter, technically making it a 32 week school year with study time and make-up days built in.  So, I guess the first thing you have to decide is what determines your school year.  I use 32 week plans and we finish the year, when the plans are complete for all core subjects.  If we get it done in 24 weeks, we are finished.  If we have to take 40 weeks to complete it, so be it.  The school year ends when our goals are met.  This is another reason to keep the lesson plans simple.  It is easy to add in assignments and activities in order to master a concept, it is much harder to skip assignments and risk missing a critical building block of knowledge.

Back to Math.  Most Math books contain more lessons than can be completed in a single school year.  Also, in elementary grades the first part of the book will review basics at the beginning of each year.  If your student does not need this review, then adjust the plans accordingly.  Sometimes, I will give them the first or second test just to get a feel for their placement.  If they score 90% or higher, that is where we begin the year.  Let’s use Johnny as an example.  He tests well on Test 2.  Math 101 typically gives ten lessons and then a test.  So Week 1, Day 1 of Johnny’s Math lesson will begin with Lesson 21.  Everyone following me, here?  He will do a Math lesson each day of the week, so his lesson plan in simplified format may look like this:

Mon    Tue    Wed    Thur  Fri

Week 1  L 21       L 22        L 23       L 24     L 25

Week 2  L 26       L 27        L 28       L 29     L 30

Week 3  Test 3     L 31        L 32       L 33     L 34

 Sorry. The formatting isn’t cooperating. It is one lesson or test per day of week 😉

You will continue to write this out until you have 32 weeks of lessons filled in.  Now, you can get even more tailored with these plans and go through the book page by page, eliminating some lessons or adding supplemental lessons as needed.  Some kids grasp concepts quickly and too much repetition will just make the subject less interesting.  I teach to mastery of concepts, so once they have complete mastery of the idea, we move on to the next concept.  If the concept is still escaping them, most programs will have supplemental material that can be added in for additional practice.  I have one student that is very advanced in Math, so one year he only did workbook pages three days each week.  The other days he worked with Cuisenairre rods or other manipulative materials where he could explore Math on his own.  There are even Lego math sheets on-line that teach math concepts while playing with legos.  My point is that you can do whatever your little heart desires and have fun!  If you feel you may have to make lots of adjustments during the school year, keep your lesson plan as simple as stating a goal:  Math 4 will end at Test 12.


 Writing lesson plans for other subjects is similar.  It does take time to look at each book and think of each child as you write the plans.  Just remember to set a goal for each subject and then break it down into weeks and then days per week for that subject.  Typically, elementary students will do four-day weeks, leaving one day each week open for appointments, make-up work or field trips.  Subjects like History, Science and Art may only be done one or two days each week as well.  I cannot write out each subject for you because that would be a book instead of a blog post.  If you have a specific question, just leave it in the comments section and I will be happy to share my opinion and advice.  Happy planning!


One thought on “Lesson Planning 101

  1. I had a terrible time at first writing out my lesson plans…especially making up tests! It seemed to be the worst part of homeschooling for me. I’m a tangent teacher so they seemed ridged and it seemed like a lot of work. You might think about selling your lesson plans to those who don’t have the time or the knack! 😉 Although for me, once we started with NARHS (North Atlantic Regional High School), and their wonderful program, I really got the hang of it and began to enjoy writing lesson plans, writing up Self Designed Courses and even tests!! Who’da thought? LOL!

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