woman's hand is writing on a table full of paperwork

Homeschool Organization: Daily Curriculum Checklists

How many decisions do you make each day?

It’s a lot, right?

If you find yourself having to make multiple decisions during your homeschool time, it’s time for an overhaul!

Decision fatigue impacts those of us with neurodiverse homes with intensity.

Charlotte’s Web or Tree Castle Island? A few years ago, that question would have ruined all attempts at homeschooling for the day. It’s likely I’d have instantly seen a hundred pros and cons to each and may have spent an hour reading book reviews. 

Now, I batch my research and do as much Big Picture Planning as I can at the beginning of the year (or 1-2 times mid year) so that on a daily basis, all I need to do is The Next Thing.

Early in the summer (or let’s be honest, in February the year before when I’m tired of homeschooling and ready for summer!), I try to begin deciding who will be in what Form, which history streams we will address, and which resources we will use together and individually. I use many booklists and build out our own literature-based curriculum. As summer approaches, I purchase needed supplies and organize the books in a way that makes it incredibly easy for me to find the next one when it’s needed.

While my first two children are only a year apart in school grades based on birthday timing, they are several years apart in ability to work independently. My incredibly focused firstborn needs freedom to work on his own while I sit with his younger sister (and pause to tend to the preschoolers). 

Around his 3rd grade year, I found that keeping it all in my head wasn’t working anymore. I needed a way for him to see what was expected and to work through his daily work without asking me what to do.

We’ve been through a few systems, but what has worked best in all of them has been this: a detailed weekly rhythm/loop schedule (so he knows which subjects to tackle each day) and a chapter-by-chapter checklist for each book or resource that he is expected to use. 

This is our working Rhythm + Loop schedules for this year. It’s messy because I was using it to discuss the length of our school day with the kids.

I call our table time “Family Symposium,” mostly because using overly complicated words is fun. 🙂 

We all know when we sit down that we will read the Bible and then work through our memory work (which is all laid out in our memory binders). We then do one thing from each of the Family Loops below.

On their own (or 1:1 with me), the kids know they need to do math, their Writing Loop, Reading Loop, Skill Work and Free Reading. And when they don’t know this–because yes, even though we’ve followed the same rhythm for years, they forget what to do–it’s all on their Rhythm and Loop page. 

The next page details the independent Writing and Reading Loops. 

Following pages break down the specifics of each subject. I make sure that the heading on the top of the page matches what it says in the Loop list. 

Photo lists book titles and Chapters with checkboxes

If writing the chapters out as a checklist feels like too much for you, I have seen families have similar success by photo copying the table of contents of each book and placing it in their binders to use as a checklist. One year, we put the checklists in Trello, and that worked really well–but the setup was cumbersome and hard to repeat the following year. You may have noticed my lists are bound like a book (thanks, Amazon KDP), but you may find it easiest to simply slip the lists into a binder or even into a folder with prongs. 

The important thing about this system is that both you and your student know what is expected TODAY without having to fuss and dig and re-think, so the lists need to be duplicated for both the student and mom. About weekly, I sit with my kids and we reconcile our lists–my lists should match theirs, and this check-in helps me make sure my expectations are reasonable and that we aren’t forgetting any large subjects I had hoped to delve into. 

I usually plan for 36 weeks, but expect to only complete 20-24 weeks worth of work. I find having a full plan allows me some flexibility (oh, we really really hate that book? Let’s just do the next one!), but the reality is that we have co-op twice a week and take field trips and get sick. All of those things count as “school,” both for state attendance purposes and because real learning happens then–but they may not contribute toward progress through our checklists.

One bonus of planning this way is that sometimes it’s possible to roll over the last 6-12 weeks over a school year into the start of the next school year. If done in a binder, it’s incredibly flexible as you can sub out pages and rearrange the order of books or subjects. 

Big Picture Planning provides the structure and forethought needed to daily Do the Next Thing.