Lesson Planning

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    I would like to hear different ways that you moms have figured out to get your lesson planning done? This would include yearly and weekly rhythms that have really worked for you…



    Hmmm, I have purchased a LOT of planners. My family keeps encouraging me to make my own. I’m intimidated by computer programs for building schedules so I have actually hand written planners before. Crazy, I know. What worked this year was a planner I purchased on Etsy, printed myself and put in a binder. I also have a daily planner. I have not been able to find a planner that combines both daily planner and lesson planner in a way that works for me. I have used the Daily Rhythms Homeschool Planner from Amy McGehee Lee, and I like it, it’s gorgeous, but it is a lot to print.
    So for actual planning routines, I spend an entire month, usually August, and go through all my curriculum materials for each child and plan.it.all.out. I’m not kidding. I do my best to combine kids where I can and I literally plan out each day of the school year. I go through my daily planner and do my best to predict when we’ll need breaks, when birthdays are, etc. I also take books like All Year Round and make sure I don’t forget any important holidays and pillars throughout the year. It’s like a special time in our house when schedules, save for meals and bedtimes, fall to the wayside and once morning chores are done, Mom is at the dining room table in a whirlwind of books, highlighters, post its, plastic dividers, more books, occasional screams and wine…just kidding I mean coffee…just kidding I mean both lol! And then it all calms down toward the end of August, we get back into routine and school usually starts back up again after Labor day. During the school year, I take time every Sunday evening…Friday or Saturday evening if I’m really on the ball, and plan out the week. This gives me time to refresh myself on what we’re reading, draw in my own MLB (I don’t have a chalkboard) correct any mistakes while I was drinking wine and lesson planning in August and just all around get our week together. It’s a big job. I came to the realization that, at least for me, planning is no joke. Not only is it incredibly helpful but it’s just plain necessary. And the time that goes with it is part of the gig of homeschool mom. I embrace it and run with it. I kind of find it super fun and exciting to get new books and curriculum and art supplies and pencils and whatever else. I kind of live for it. 🙂
    And weekly rhythm is like this for us…
    Sunday-church and family
    Monday-home day, school work
    Tuesday-home day, school work
    Wednesday-home day, school work
    Thursday-field trip with friends
    Friday-errands, including the grocery store, home the rest of the day, school work
    Saturday-easy going day, sometimes we watch a show or 2 in the morning, we’re slow to get the chores done, we work in the garden or on the house, sometimes we go to an event or something happening in town, family movie night with dessert served.
    *Of course it varies! There are always docs appointments, illness, vacation, visitors, whatever. But you get the idea. This is USAULLY what we do.


    Donna Simmons

    Erin — do you use our Christopherus curriculum? Just wondering if you find what is in there useful–all the schedules and so on (I think Kristin is a DIYer–correct me if I am wrong! LOL!) soshe does everything from scratch.

    When I was homeschooling, I would plan the progression of the main lessons and more or less sketch in Other lessons–note what we had missed the last year and what I really wanted us to do this year…noted where I could combine my sons’ lessons…and then see what Life might have in store. For 2 years Life meant, for instance, that we drove an hour each way once a week to the Twin Cities for me to work at and the boys to be part of a city youth project centered on a city garden project. Those years I was also working weekends at a group home for delinquent boys–so Dad did German and math with the boys on the weekend. And, just to add to the mix, we live on a small farm so the rhythms of growing year also dictated a lot of what we did. Oh yes–and soccer took up a lot of time in the Fall!



    I am DIYer! I love schedules, it’s like my passion, lol. So nerdy, I know. But I like to make schedules and re make schedules and so on. So DIY has always worked well for me. But I am seriously considering the 5th grade curriculum for this coming fall to make my planning go a bit easier. I’d love to see what schedules you have in there.



    I do my planning first thing in the morning with coffee in hand lol. I get up at 5am and have about an hour before I need to start my day. This tends to be the best time for me to focus while my children are asleep. I will plan blocks or read lesson material and prepare for the day.
    I use Around the Day Planner for personal, family and finances. Its beautiful and includes steiners calendar of the soul verses and meditations. For lesson plans I use the Daily Rhythms Homeschool Planner. I don’t print the entire download but only pages I need. I print out one set of yearly planning pages to fill in the blocks for the year for all my children. I print out the weekly lesson plan pages for each child and the early years page for my youngest for the detailed daily plans. But I keep it all open ended and label the days of the week with lesson 1, lesson 2 etc. since we could be doing lessons on a Saturday or Sunday, it helps for me to see the progression of the lessons and not get hung up on what should be done on which day. Often we will work on a lessons for longer than anticipated. The other reason is my husband works contract, he is often unexpectedly working away, so we usually do school when he is away. It’s very hard to get lesson time in when he is home, we are busy with home projects and chores- unschooling : ) I guess you could say we have an unrhythm rhythm for school time lol. What really keeps us grounded is our daily rhythm, that stays the same whether dad is home or not. Mealtimes, daily chores, bedtimes, it’s our foundation.
    For me plans can stress me “oh no we didn’t get that done, how will we ever catch up, we are so behind” Planning our year and then planning block details through out the year helps. Over the years I tend to plan less and less because we just can’t do it all and if I have ten amazing things I want to do for one block I feel bad by not achieving all ten things. Planning one thing that we finish makes me feel so much better and less stressed.



    I have found that I cannot lesson plan that well, it’s really helpful for me to have someone else put it together me and try to follow it. I tried to follow a different Waldorf curriculum last year (because it was much more affordable) but it was no robust enough and I was still have to buy a bunch of separate things and invest a lot of time.

    I am really interested in getting s full on christopherus curriculum this year but I am nervous because Donna said you can’t just open it and go for this level 5th. I would like to hear more about this, and I would also like to know if selling a bundle of books that go with the theme of the year is something you would consider doing Donna?

    I also have 2 kids that are really close academically so I have been combining their lessons, but my oldest is just so far advanced, I feel like I need to have two separate “school times.”



    Caitlyn, what is the most challenging aspect of lesson planning for you? Deciding which blocks? figuring out components to the lesson? filling in the details? What has worked well for you?

    Christopehrus curriculum is laid out in terms of blocks, what to do during that block and plenty of ideas for you to use. It’s not really an open and go because there is still teacher prep. You need to understand what you will be teaching and also preparing or at least being comfortable with the art content of the lessons. Often books can be borrowed from the library.

    How old are your children? One possibility is to combine the lesson content but to add an extra challenge for your oldest.


    Donna Simmons

    Hi Caitlyn,

    As Sabrina said,one can’t really ‘open and go’ with our curriculum–not because there isn’t a lot of guidance and help but because the point of Christopherus is for homeschooling parents to make the curriculum their own. And unlike currics I won’t mention, it is not scripted- you aren’t told what to say to your child! So there is a lot of parent prep- but also much less than in, for instance,Live Ed.
    As for the companion books for 5th gr, again,as Sabrina says, you can get them from the library.
    Re combining children–all homeschoolers do that. I make real point with Christopherus to help parents understand child development and the curriculum to the point where they can combine children.
    I was about to give you a link to one of my free talks that I had done on the FB group which addresses precisely the issues of making it work with several children…but the video seems to have disappeared…I need to check with my son (tech support) and will get back with that soon!



    Donna I have seen the video, thank you!

    So next year my 3 big kids will be 7, 9, and almost 11.

    My 9 year old is completely on track with the developmental-ness of Waldorf. She love love loved the Saints stories that we got from Christopherus, and we got a couple of Jakob Streit books on St. Francis and the like to supplement. It’s so funny because we’re Jewish. My oldest loved all the Norse Mythology.

    So here’s the rub, those aren’t combined. So is the thing to do to try and do some of what’s on track for one kid and some of what’s on track for the other?

    Like do I buy the whole third grade curriculum and the whole fifth, and then pick stuff out as I go? I am not opposed to this, but I’m not seeing how you can only get one and go.

    I have no idea what to do with my son who will be 7. He’s already reading and doing math, and quite precocious BUT very immature, hmmm!


    Donna Simmons

    Hi Caitlyn,

    I would definitely recommend getting all the Christopherus curriculum materials that you can and really trying to understand what is the goal of each year’s curriculum…and then as you say,pick and pull from each to see where you can combine your children and where you can work with them differently.
    If the stories of the saints–and since you have our Saints & Heroes book you know we do not cover ‘only’ Christian saints–are the stories of humanity then of course they will speak to your children whether they are Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist! It’s a wonderful thing and can really also help one strengthen and clarify one’s relationship to one’s own religious path.
    Re your youngest–I would emphasize handwork, form drawing,crafts, cooking and movement to ensure he does not become one-sided in his striving to keep up with his older siblings!



    Ok, that makes much more sense to me!

    Yes it has been remarkable my 8 year old’s interest in Saints AND Jataka tales! I’ve also downloaded several books for her, like the velveteen rabbit, because while she isn’t a strong reader yet she LOVES stories.

    This has been very helpful to process through, thank you!



    Hi everyone! I had this question as well for I am always curious about what other brilliant moms do. In the early years I was very relaxed. We did as we went and Life was the curriculum. Thank God for Waldorf as when you have children starting K and you have 3 little ones and are pregnant…well… that Life is enough! So I always treasure those years now because they were sweet. Fast forward last year with 3rd grade, 1, and K1… I had to up my game 🙂 So I started planning with a month ahead and do weekly or biweekly sit ins for more detailed planning still with a new baby 😉 Now this year is where things have come all together a bit better. I feel like having gone through the K-3 cycle once gave me the wisdom of a more experienced home school mom. What truly helped was Donna’s Christopherus curriculum overview. Now I can really see the whole picture from 12 to K and work backwards. This puts me more at ease. What I have in store for next year is to devote 2 weeks in the summer, in a very relaxed way, with a glass of wine (that was a great idea Kristin) sit with a notebook and the 3 binders we’ll use (1, 3, 5). Read Donna’s amazing words of wisdom. Get the big picture for the year; pencil down ideas as they come; see where we could combine lessons; determine when we’ll do what blocks. Fall is an amazing time for more inward work, so I’ll keep that in mind. Look for holidays, vacation, birthdays, etc. to prioritize around our schedule and start thinking of stories and material I will need to support the lessons.
    A big one is what new skill I will need to learn. I will then pull out a calendar and note on which months we’ll do what blocks to make sure we have a good breathing time to complete things. I will not go over details or anything like that. When Summer is coming to an end, I will go back to my weekly planning in an old-fashioned teacher planner one can get at the Dollar store. I can’t plan details in advanced or have things too structured. This overwhelms me. But I like to have the big picture (my walls/borders) so that then I can fill in the circle with details that will be pertinent to the growing children. In a way it’s hard for me to predict what my child will need in, say, 6 months.

    Donna, would you please forward the link for your Homeschooling Big Families talk when you find it? Thanks!



    Let me say, Kindergarten was a dream, Life is the lessons, nature, baking, cooking, etc, we all know how nice Waldorf is. 🙂 Kinda miss those days!!!
    We just finished our First grade year. Holy COW, In the beginning, I had it all laid out, Sundays I planned for the week lessons and such. Totally on top of it, have our daily weekly rhythms-yep…chai in hand I prepared. I have to say I quickly realized, my son and I were done after lunch, barely could manage the knitting, crafting etc. And nature blocks, WellI found that during those times we needed the extra time in nature and read a lot. So fast forward to March 2018 still in first grade, this is a hard month for me, actually March-May, Not because of the material for homeschooling, but rather an emotional time for me, a great loss which our family endured 5 years ago. By some miracle and breathing we made it through. WE did!!
    During April, We took a 6 week long road trip across the Untied States. Starting from our home in Vermont all the way to California where my eldest son lives. This was wonderful, visiting family and friends, seeing so much country, going to national parks and , playing on the beach…Life is schooling, experiences are schooling.. It was beyond great.
    THEN BAM!!! WE come home, to ALL that we did not do…
    I fretted, I got some more grey hairs, I got the bottle of wine out. 🙂 And I
    Thought about the state requirements, And What would Donna do? Which I read the entire Waldorf Overview.I took a deep breath and decided to do the last Math block and thats that. WE are DONE.
    But as I reflect on this and all the above comments, I realize I need to lighten up on myself, leave room for trips, and not beat myself up for not doing afternoon lessons.
    But first to prepare the state requirements and portfolio. yay.



    Hi Ginger! Lovely to read your beautiful recount of the year. Ahh..We’re in CA too. After all our crazy year, we did as you did. Math block, which we’re finishing next week. It felt right. And… truly as we homeschool, we give them so much more in rich experiences and life itself. That cross country trip must go in the books! We did that once 3 years ago and still is the best trip ever and so much learning/”unschooling” happened. Anyways, reading your post reminded me that I also start super strong each year. I mean, I’m a mom on a mission to become best homeschool mom of the year…lol My good intentions dwindle as the year goes by and life happens. This too say, that I will plan on doing the most important, challenging, non-negotiable blocks early in the year when we’re fresh and ready…haha! 🙂

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