February 3, 2013

Individual Learning Plans

Schedule school subjects and their corresponding resources by downloading and printing out the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) worksheets listed below. This convenient system will help you to successfully plan and customize your child's academic years, as well as to plan purchases of books and other materials.

Individual Learning Plan for Elementary   doc
Individual Learning Plan for Elementary   pdf

Individual Learning Plan for Middle School   doc
Individual Learning Plan for Middle School   pdf

Individual Learning Plan for High School   doc
Individual Learning Plan for High School   pdf 

Assign Required Courses

Referring to your state's homeschooling and high school graduation requirements (see my previous post), assign required courses and electives to be taken each year on an ILP worksheet. Indicate which courses your student is to take each year and cross out any unused blocks. For example, a first-grade student might not take English, so the English block under the "1" would be crossed out.

For high school students, refer to the courses and credits needed to meet high school graduation requirements in your particular state or area, as well as any additional college admissions requirements, and assign each course to an ILP block. Minimum high school graduation requirements may not be sufficient to meet college admissions requirements, so be prepared for your student to take more than the minimum number of required high school courses if planning to attend college.

Scheduling high school courses takes a bit more thought since subjects may be taken all four years, a few years, only one year, one semester, or one quarter. For example, the high school science courses of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics could be taken in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, or with a break in between. Check for course pre-requisites and schedule them on the ILP accordingly. For example, completion of Algebra I may be a pre-requisite for a Chemistry course. When a subject is not taken every year, cross out any unused blocks. For example, Health and PE would probably not be taken all four years of high school, so the years that Health and PE are not taken would be crossed out. 

Add Electives and Family Preferences

Add subjects to the ILP that your child and/or your family find interesting and important to learn about, such as Bible, Vegetable Gardening, Bicycle Maintenance, or Pet Care. In high school, elective courses may focus on college-prep and career-oriented subjects. The ILP worksheet will help you to evenly distribute and appropriately schedule all required and elective courses throughout the homeschooling years. As your student progresses, you will  have the flexibility to make adjustments as needed. 

Include Supplements

Think outside the books! Include an interesting variety of educational games, kits, DVDs, CDs, field trips, websites, projects, and activities to your child's ILP worksheet, too. When the blocks on the ILP worksheet get full, continue with notes on the back of the same page. If using the Word document on the computer, the table cells will expand as needed.

List Resources to Consider

Browsing homeschool catalogs? Shopping online? Going to homeschool conventions? Make a note of specific titles, publishers, item numbers, and prices of resources to consider purchasing for specific courses. Resources may include, but not be limited to, textbooks, workbooks, e-books, audiobooks, online courses, DVD courses, and dual-enrollment classes. Then, when the time comes, you will already have a collection of possible resources to choose from listed for each subject. This list will help to reduce impulse buying and over-spending! In the case that a particular resource doesn’t work out as expected, you will likely have other options already listed on the ILP worksheet. 

You Can Do This!

This simple, thorough, and flexible planning system worked for us during our 12 years of homeschooling. Whether you use the ILP worksheets listed above, create your own, or plan by hand on notebook paper, the method you choose is not as important as the actual planning itself. The long term benefits of first getting the big picture, planning thoughtfully, and then focusing on the details will definitely be worth all your efforts.

February 2, 2013

First, Get the Big Picture

New to homeschooling? Already homeschooling but need structure? Beginning high school?

Start by developing a general overview of your child's upcoming homeschool years with an Individual Learning Plan, or ILP. Working from customized planning worksheets and updating them regularly will help to assure that your homeschool:

  • meets all state homeschooling requirements
  • makes academic progress each year
  • stays on track, with flexibility to make adjustments
  • utilizes time, energy, and resources efficiently
  • reduces or eliminates unnecessary purchases
  • begins each school year with more confidence and less stress  

My next post will feature handy Individual Learning Plan worksheets for Elementary, Middle School, and High School years, along with plenty of tips for using them. 

In the meantime, become familiar with homeschool and high school graduation requirements in your particular state or area, especially regarding academic subjects and high school credits, and print them out. To find this information, refer to the websites of your state's Department of Education, your state's official Homeschool Association, or the HSLDA

Having this information available, together with the Individual Learning Plan worksheets, will help you to first get the big picture of your child's education, which prepares you to then focus on the details.