Student planners are an integral part of organizing our school at home. I mentioned in an earlier post that I do not make lesson plans. The reason is that my students do!
Student planners accomplish several things for us. They give some autonomy to our students (which increases motivation), they teach time and task management, they get the schoolwork organized, they act as a school record, and they take a huge load off the homeschooling parent.
We begin using a planner in 3rd grade. Before this, our curriculum is very simple and parent-led and “do the next thing,” so a planner is not really necessary. We start doing more independent work in 3rd grade. The planner I use for grade school is My Student Logbook. This planner works more as a checklist in preparation for a true student-led planner later. I can write a list of what needs to be done (once, not every day or every week) and my student checks (or stars!) each task as it is completed. I let him decide what order to do his independent work in, and he can see at a glance how close he is to finishing his schoolday. The reason I like this particular planner is that I only have to write the to-do list once, and it will work for however long you want to follow that particular schedule. See this video on how the planner can be used for various schedules and assignments.
For older students, we use a blank high school planner like this. The idea is to take the list of goals for the year and break it down into weekly assignments. With Dusty, I began by making a list of smaller goals every six weeks. Then he would use that list to write out his assignments for the week, pacing himself as he wished. For instance, if the yearly goal was to read a history book, the six-week goal might be “read the first 10 chapters of history.” (I eventually dropped the step of smaller goals and let him do all the breaking-down.) I checked over his planner both at the beginning of the week (to make sure he had all his bases covered) and and the end of the week (to make sure everything got checked off.) Except for read-aloud time, he got to decide when to do all his work. I also had him write down his hours for each assignment, in preparation for high school record-keeping.
For more on getting students to take ownership of their education, I highly recommend the book, The Self-Propelled Advantage by Joanne Calderwood.
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” –Isaac Asimov