It’s January. Let’s get organized.

I’ve got a couple of new homeschooling mom friends who have wondered–with much more awe in their voices than I’m actually entitled to–how I keep eight students of different ages straight in my head. Honestly, I have in the past lost track of one or more students while thinking I had everything under control. I have one child who is so quiet and clever that he can make me forget to do his lessons, like a Jedi. It would be creepy, if he weren’t so cute.

One of the tools I’ve been using for a couple of years to make sure I know where we’re all supposed to be at any given moment, is this free printable week planner. This one gives me a plan for how our time will be used, but doesn’t get into the details of what we’re doing. Details are written out elsewhere. I’ve made a sample plan for you that doesn’t resemble our own very much for the sake of our privacy:

Sample Weekly Schedule

Each person in the family is assigned a color, with my color, purple in this sample, being the base color. The “everybody” color is blue, Child #1 is green, Child #2 is red, etc. If a child is with me directly for a chunk of time, his stripe is right up against mine, so I can see quickly who is entitled to my attention at that time. If he doesn’t have a stripe on a particular block, that means he has flexible time to play or finish whatever chores or schoolwork he has. I put chores on here, too. On Monday, Child #2 will be my dinner helper. Everybody cleans the chicken coop on Tuesday. You get the idea.

Our morning meetings are the times when we do whatever we can together, like Bible study, prayers, reading aloud from Shakespeare or Plutarch, PE, art and music study. The length of that meeting varies, so I do the week schedule after the lesson plans are finished. I give each student an individual meeting time for one-on-one teaching. If you have only three students, like the sample planner pictured above, you’ll have quite a bit more free time and flexibility than I do. I try to get to everybody one-on-one at least three times a week.

Maybe you don’t even need a plan at this moment. Don’t feel pressured to be organized if you’ve got everything well in hand without the extra work! When I was a new homeschooler with only a few kids, I didn’t often feel like I needed a plan, but after a while I did start to notice things slipping through the cracks, even with just a few students. Now that I’m teaching all stages, from three-year-old preschool to almost-grown ups (oh, my!), I definitely do need a little more structure to my day.

I use this planner for lesson plans, and the older kids have their own ways of organizing (or not) their independent work.

Since the only people who even know about this blog are my old readers who kept their subscriptions active when I stopped blogging a few years ago, I’m sure you are already doing things your own way, and many aren’t even homeschooling anymore. But if anybody is interested, or knows some new homeschoolers who would benefit, I’d be happy to show more about how we follow, roughly and haphazardly, and not at all in a way that Charlotte Mason would approve, a Charlotte Mason-style education using Ambleside Online.