The Planners

Drumroll please.

For the very first time, I have embarked on using a paper planner.

I’ve always done some planning of some kind, but never the kind that involved a long term planner. The kids have had their own planners for a few years. I write assignments in those and help them keep a calendar. I also use some of the pages for goal setting with them and keeping track of other things, like chores or books they’ve read. However, it’s not especially fancy.

This year, I decided that I would track hours to see how much time we’re actually spending on school. One way to award credits in high school is to track how long you spend on a subject and award credits based on “contact hours.” The thing is, I’ve never tracked our time before and I have no concept if we’re already spending that sort of volume of hours or not. I am also trying to be a little more organized about tracking things like audiobooks and field trips. I list these when I go to update the portfolios, but I can’t tell you how many times over the years that making that list of just a few items has turned into a mental memory Olympics for me as I struggle to recall what book we read before the one we’re listening to now but after that other one.

I already rely heavily on my online calendar app, Cozi (which I highly recommend as the best one I’ve tried for families, by the way), so I wasn’t interested in having a detailed calendar. Instead, I wanted to keep track of those big picture things like books, credit hours, ongoing projects, and so forth.

I made my own hours tracking sheets where each hour is a circle. I’m not totally sure if this is the best way, but I’m enjoying coloring them in during school time.

For the other pages, I tweaked some of the multitudes of free planner pages offered by Scattered Squirrel to be more homeschool appropriate. I made lots of pages for lists, both of things I’m thinking of for the future and of things we’ve done. I also made monthly focus pages for goals for myself and places to jot down field trips and other things that are going on.

To bind it, I bought the Staples ARC notebook. These are ring binder notebooks. You can buy a notebook and customize it or buy the rings and cover separately. Staples sells paper of various kinds for it and you can buy special paper for it from Etsy shops as well, but if you want to print your own, you need a hole punch that’s specially made for the ring binder notebook system. I bought a cheap one for about ten dollars that can only punch a couple of pages at a time, but since I only had a few dozen pages, that was okay. So far, I’ve been happy with how easy this was to put together and how well it’s holding up. I was unsure about the paper staying really well, but it seems to be fine. It’s easy to remove but stays in place nicely and the pages turn easily and lay flat.

So far, I’ve kept it up, but it’s only been a month. I tend to think that organization systems work well at first, tend toward chaos, and then have to be brought back in line at some point. We’ll see how this one goes long term. For now, I’m enjoying having a

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