Chaos is not my thing. Not that anyone really likes it, but some most folks roll with the punches better than I do.
The kids are yelling. The dog is tracking mud through the kitchen while he yips incessantly at said children. A pot is boiling over on the stove.
And in the midst of this I am supposed to be teaching reading, or math, or the kings and queens of England.
I struggle. Oh, I really do. You too?
This is the main reason that I love using open-and-go curriculum as much as possible. Math? Check. Reading? Check. Spelling? Check. My favorite programs are the ones I open, and they tell me exactly what to do next. And they are great programs, so that is an added bonus.
But sometimes I want to use a resource that is is fabulous, but not so friendly to the decision-fatigued mom. Maybe it has too many moving parts to choose from. Or it is just a book with no guide at all. Or it is a practice I want to do it my homeschool, but I don’t really have or need an entire curriculum for it.
What to do
Enter the procedure list. (Cue angels singing here.)
The procedure list is a super-simple tool I use that tells me exactly what to do in order to teach from any subject or resource. I make these magical lists myself, so they only include the things I want my kids to practice, do, or study. They eliminate the need for me to think or wonder what is next when we study a particular subject. All the information I need is included on the list.
Here is an example for studying Story of the World.
- Write names and place names from chapter on white board.
- Listen to chapter while completing coloring page.
- Provide oral narration of part of chapter. Use questions and names on whiteboard as needed.
- Look up topic in Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. View any interesting Internet links.
- Complete map work.
Story of the World is a great resource. It even has a wonderful activity book — which is full of so much information and so many things to make and do. I get a little overwhelmed by it all. *ahem* So I made my own list of what I wanted to do each time we study a Story of the World chapter. It took just a few minutes to come up with the plan, decide on the resources to use, and type up the list on a paper.
That paper then goes into my binder, and I refer to it until the procedure becomes second-nature to me to follow. I also print out all of the coloring pages and map pages I needed ahead of time and stored them in a folder. If I waited until we needed them to print, they would never get printed.
Why homeschool procedures work
The beauty of creating my own simplified procedures for these subjects is that in the heat of the moment, I don’t have to think about what I want to do to study a specific subject — it is all laid out for me on the page. I do this in the summer or before we start using a new resource, and it makes all the difference in the world with our consistency and follow-through on a subject.
So when someone is whining, the doorbell is ringing, and I have to track a child down for the third time to get started, I know exactly what to do next. Even if my brain is hurting.
Here is another example from our state geography study from last year. I downloaded a free state notebooking page set that had notebook pages and maps. I added a few state books and an atlas to our resources, as well as some YouTube videos about the states. The procedures pulled all the resources together into a plan that was easy to follow.
Mom reads from various state books while students:
- Label regional map with state names and capitals. Trace on tracing paper.
- Color bird/flower page. Student draws something in box to help them remember the state. Consult atlas for more ideas.
- Watch Socratica video on YouTube.
- Do map work for state map from handbook.
How to make your own procedure lists
Making procedure lists is easy.
- Gather your resources for a specific subject.
- Think carefully about your goals for that subject. Looking at my geography study above, my goals were for the kids to be able to name each state and capital, place the states on a map, remember at least one interesting tidbit about each state. It might even help for you to jot the goals down on scratch paper so that you easily remember them as you plan.
- List out your procedures you want to follow. Be sure to list them in the exact order you want to do them in. Consider your goals and don’t add extra things despite the temptation to pile on — only list what you will honestly do and what will meet your goals.
- Finalize your list and keep a copy handy. You can type these and print them for a teacher binder. Put them on a clipboard with your attendance sheet. Or write them on index cards and store them on a ring. Do whatever you need to do to keep them close by so you will use them.
- Prepare your materials. Once you know what you will be doing for each subject print out at least a term’s worth of printables and store them together or in a folder for each child, gather your needed books, and bookmark online resources. Your open-and-go math program has all the sheets right there for you. In making your own open-and-go program you need to do the same.
What homeschool procedures should you make
Basically I make procedures for every subject that doesn’t come with step-by-step instructions (this is homeschooling for the weary, y’all). Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- map drawing or tracing
- music appreciation
- picture study
- state or country study
- animal, plant, or bird study
- freewrite procedure
- simple Morning Time procedure (as opposed to a more elaborate plan)
The possibilities for using procedures are endless and the end result is a more peaceful mom.
I can’t keep the chaos from happening, but I am better prepared to deal with it. All I have to do is open my binder and do the next thing — no thinking necessary.
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