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Recently, I posted about our bilingual homeschool curriculum choices for Xavi’s kindergarten year. Today, I wanted to share the quick homeschooling hack that helps me stay on top of those curricula—without devoting a ton of time to planning.
My Philosophy: Spend Time Teaching, Not Planning
Before I dive into my super simple trick, I have to share a few caveats, all along the lines of YMMV:
First, I am not against planning at all. I love planning and in a past life, even taught other academics how to plan their semester-long college courses in one shot. However, in my current stage of life, I simply don’t have time to sit down each week (or even once during the summer) to plan out lessons and I definitely don’t have any desire to purchase a $50 homeschool organizer and spend time decorating it with washi tape. If that brings you joy, go you! I support your washi tape purchases! However, efficiency, not beauty, is what motivates me, so I shoot for the simplest system possible.
Second, my lack of planning time was obviously a big factor in my kindergarten curricula choices. Most of the resources that I chose are open-and-go and our primary curriculum—Sonlight—includes weekly plans for History, Bible, and Literature. This means that I don’t have to write up detailed calendars or lessons—so I don’t.
Third, I only have one child who I’m homeschooling (and for kindergarten, at that). He’s obviously not doing any work independently, so it’s completely up to me to organize his lessons and stay on top of them. For kids who can do a bit of work on their own, you might consider letting them use book darts to track their progress, but also maintain a written plan that can be cross-checked for accountability.
My Indispensable $10 Homeschool Planning Tool (That’s Not a Planner!)
So, with all that said, what is the magical tool that I use to keep us on track without written plans?
Here it is: book darts.
I first discovered these through Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy, who convinced me to take the plunge and buy a $10 tin. Now, I’ve been successfully using them in our homeschool for three months, and they’ve helped me stay organized without adding any planning time to my plate (hooray!).
I probably don’t even need to write this out for you—it’s honestly that simple—but if you want to steal this idea, here’s a few ways that I use book darts in our homeschool:
For our daily Bible reading—which I tag-team with my husband—book darts help us stay on track without having to consult a written plan. I can easily pick up where he’s left off simply by using this tool.
I use book darts to track where we are in our math and reading lessons. Whenever we’re done for the day—including on the days that we don’t complete an entire lesson—I just move the marker to the place where I want to pick up next. Easy as pie.
Of course, book darts are great for holding our place in our Sonlight read-alouds and in our Sonlight IG.
Okay, you say, but can’t I just do the same with a bookmark? Or a post-it note? Yes, of course, you can, but I really appreciate these three particular advantages of book darts:
They can mark a very specific place in your lesson. I often end up splitting our All About Reading lessons to accommodate Xavi’s attention span and I like to mark off exactly where I left off. Book darts let me do that.
They don’t fall out of books easily—unlike bookmarks, which tend to get lost about five seconds after I bring them into our house. My toddler doesn’t even notice our book darts (unlike bookmarks) and is much less likely to steal them.
They’re both cheap and durable. I’ve always found bookmarks overpriced and post-its annoy me when they rip or lose their stickiness. Using book darts avoids both of these problems.
Now, once you’re using book darts, the key to staying on track is to be consistent with daily lessons. Because we’re pretty good about sticking to our four-day-a-week schedule, I don’t worry about exactly where we are in our curricula. We’re moving through it at the pace of my child—one of the great advantages of homeschooling!
I hope that this (extremely simple) homeschooling hack has inspired you! Do you know of any other uses for book darts that I’ve overlooked? Even using so many, I still have nearly a whole tin full, so definitely share your ideas with me here!