Free Editable Weekly Planner for Kids

There are many ways to keep track of the chores, work, and other tasks kids have to do, but this spot chart has been a perennial favorite in our house. I created it when the kids were preschool age, and it has made its way back to our refrigerator almost every year since. The kids use bingo markers or dot markers to cross off the things they have done.

When the kids were little, the daily columns included things like “brush teeth,” “get dressed,” and “make bed.” These columns for my current middle schoolers now include things like math, writing, music practice, foreign language work, and exercise. The “Other Stuff” boxes in the lower right are used for things that they do once or twice a week, like “take out trash” or “music lesson.”

Kids Spot Chart Weekly Planner

We are happy to share these resources with you free of charge. We ask only that if you download and use them, you show your support by purchasing or recommending our books.

Free Editable Week Planner

Below, you will find one of our favorite weekly planners. It is a simple, flexible design that you can use to plan all aspects of your week. It includes spaces for lesson plans, activities, notes, a to-do list, dinner plans, exercise, or other aspects of your life that you want to track. You can print it out and fill in the spaces manually or edit it in a .pdf reader. You can download a plain (uneditable) planner page by clicking here.

We are happy to share these resources with you free of charge. We ask only that if you download and use them, you show your support by purchasing or recommending our books.

2020-2021 Master Calendar

Here, you will find our Master Calendar that can be used in concert with the Refrigerator Calendar and Menu. You can print the master calendar and keep it in a binder, and then use it for long-term planning and record keeping.

You can use the calendar at the top to keep track of birthdays, appointments, meetings, and events.

On the bottom half of the page, you will find a table for logging bills paid online, space to write in the names of you bank accounts and a check box to indicate that you have reviewed them for accuracy, and a checklist for household tasks that need to be done in a given month, such as changing the furnace filter, replacing batteries in smoke detectors, making medical appointments, and so on.

At the start of each month, you can transfer activities and events from this master calendar to the refrigerator so everyone in your family knows what is going on.

We are happy to share these resources with you free of charge. We ask only that if you download and use them, you show your support by purchasing or recommending our books.

2020-2021 Refrigerator Calendar & Menu

Plenty of people swear by one app or another to help them stay organized and on top of things, but we prefer the tried-and-true paper calendar. Click here to download our 2020-2021 refrigerator calendar and menu.

We keep them side-by-side on the refrigerator. The calendar gets filled in with birthdays, events, classes, meetings, and other activities. The menu shows our dinner plans for the week. In a future post, I’ll write about our process of menu planning, which usually happens one week at a time.

And here is the menu!

We are happy to share these resources with you free of charge. We ask only that if you download and use them, you show your support by purchasing or recommending our books.

Our Guiding Principles for a Happy Homeschool

One of the great benefits of being an independent homeschooler is that we get to develop an approach and a curriculum that is exactly suited to the needs of our children. We get to decide on our priorities, choose the materials that are a good fit, set our own schedules, and work out the details.

This approach is not without its challenges, however. With nearly unlimited freedom comes infinite choices. It is easy to second-guess the things we are doing, and when our days start to fall apart, we have countless levers and buttons that we can adjust when trying to set things right. It is not always clear where problems lie or how to fix them.

Over the years, I have developed a set of guiding principles that help me to refocus when things are not working. Generally, when something is not quite right, I can trace the problem to my neglect of one or more of the following:

Teach the Child in Front of You

If things are unsettled or a little “off,” I question whether the things I am asking my children to do are appropriate for their abilities and dispositions right now. If they are not, we need to make changes. It is important to teach the children we have today, not the children we once had or the children we hope they will become. Just because something worked well once doesn’t mean it will work now.

Safeguard Your Child’s Will to Learn

If the kids are struggling, I ask whether or not the struggle is productive or destructive. Productive struggles help kids grow. They discover that they are capable of more than they might have thought, and once they push through, they find themselves able to do more complex, interesting work. Destructive struggles that arise from being asked to do things that are too hard, too easy, or irrelevant kill their will to learn. Our first responsibility is to make sure that our children always embrace the process of learning. Once their desire to learn has been extinguished, it is extraordinarily difficult to rekindle.

The Best Curriculum Is the One That Gets Done

If I have a subject or project that we never seem to get to, I ask whether or not we actually need to do it. Do we have enough other things going on in our days? What would the kids be missing if we skipped it altogether? If I want to fit it in, I need to prioritize the time to do so, and find something that will fit easily into our days.

In addition, we need to make sure we have a core of things that get done with great regularity. For some, that might be math, reading, and writing. For others, the core could include music, a foreign language, and math. On our busiest or most chaotic days, we do these core subjects only.

Do Not Try to Fix Things That Are Not Broken

If I find something that looks fun and that everyone else seems to love, I sometimes second-guess what we are doing. Is this shiny new thing actually better, in some tangible way, than what we have now? It is always easy to imagine that the grass is greener, but if we have something that is working, we should stick with it. If we reach a point where it is no longer working, only then should we consider making changes.

Expenditures of Time and Effort Pay Dividends

If I get off track, I go back to my plans. I do a lot of planning during the spring and summer and usually work out detailed schedules, but I do not always follow them. Do I need to revise my plans to be more or less precise? Have we changed direction enough to necessitate new plans?

Days can only be easy and seem effortless when you have put in the time and effort to make sure they are so. Time we put into curating an organized environment in our homes, working out a flexible and functional schedule, selecting appropriate materials, learning the materials we will be teaching, and preparing activities in advance will make our days flow smoothly.

Evaluate and Assess Regularly

I routinely try to evaluate what is working and what is not working. Even though it is important to make plans, I try not to plan too far ahead. We need to leave some flexibility in our schedules so we can follow our students’ interests and accommodate unexpected interruptions.

Make Changes and Employ Exit Strategies When Needed

When something significant is not working, be it a curriculum, subject, extracurricular activity, or homeschooling itself, I weigh the available options and choose a new course. We need to remember that few thoughtfully-made choices regarding the education of our children are permanent and irreversible. We all learn a lot when we are willing to experiment and try new things.

Take Time Off

When all else fails, maybe it is time for a full stop. I used to resist taking weeks or months off completely, but I have learned that they are vital if we want to stay sane. After some time away, we all tend to be more clear-minded, relaxed, and ready to build on knowledge already learned.

Be Intentional and Thoughtful in Determining Your Path

Every year, I take time to remember and to articulate why we are homeschooling and what we hope to accomplish. I don’t have a written mission statement or a neat list of goals for each child, but I do try to define what we are doing and why.

When we are intentional and thoughtful in determining our own goals, curriculum, and schedule, we are less inclined to envy another homeschooler’s path.

Enjoy the Journey

Sometimes, we simply need to adjust our attitudes. This is a path we have chosen, and one that we can change should should the need or desire arise. As long as we choose to continue, we should embrace it, enjoy it, and appreciate its many delights and challenges.

Navigating the Range of Educational Options

If you are considering homeschooling your children, you have likely come across social media, forum, or blog posts that promise that it will be inexpensive, easy, educationally superior to public schools regardless of how you approach it, and take a minimal amount of time each day.

Indeed, there are ways to “homeschool” that are very easy and require little time or effort from you. Easy approaches, though, rarely lead to the kinds of outcomes people often look for when homeschooling. If you are seeking an education for your children that provides meaningful work that aligns with their interests and abilities, if you want them to be internally motivated and active learners, and if you want them to develop the ability to think critically and carefully, you are going to have to spend time or money in order to make those things happen. Providing an individualized, substantive, engaging education for a child is a genuine challenge. Like many things that require a sustained commitment and constant effort, though, it is worth it if you are willing to do the necessary work to make it happen.

Below is a chart showing the range of available options for educating your children. You will notice that there is a direct relationship between control and effort. The more control you want over what your children learn and how they learn it, the more effort you will have to put into the process.

Although this list is not exhaustive, it addresses the most common approaches to education right now, ranging from unsupported unschooling to individualized education. Each option has benefits and drawbacks, and many people change course as their needs and circumstances change. Parents may supplement any of these approaches with extracurricular activities including music instruction, athletic activities, and classes. The main categories are as follows:

Unsupported Unschooling

Students are given little or no direct instruction and few, if any, curriculum materials. Practitioners may believe that direct instruction hinders a child’s natural inclination to learn.

Traditional School

The tradition model of education where instruction is outsourced to a public or private school, and a teacher is responsible for a class of 20 or more students. Parents provide support as needed or requested by the teacher to insure that work is being completed by their students.

Online School

Education is outsourced to an online provider who oversees all aspects of a child’s education via video presentations, on-line conferences, and written correspondence. Parents are responsible for insuring that students complete the assigned work.

Supplemented School

A partnership between the student, teacher, and parent. Teacher is primarily responsible for direct instruction, and parents oversee supplementary material to fill in gaps or to support the student’s interests. Sometimes this approach is referred to as “afterschooling.”

Custom Outsourcing

A partnership between the student and one or more curriculum providers for online or in-person courses. Parents may help choose courses, but are not responsible for direct instruction.

This approach also includes “cottage schools,” “university-model schools,” and some co-ops where students attend classes away from home two or more days per week and complete assignments independently at home.

Packaged Curriculum

A partnership between a single curriculum provider and the parents, who are responsible for direct instruction using the materials provided. Packaged curricula often include textbooks, workbooks, schedules, and extensive notes regarding the implementation of the program. They may also include written scripts for parents to follow.

Supported Unschooling

A partnership between the student and parent where the student has primary control over the direction and content of the education. The parent provides direction, acquires resources, and offers guidance as requested to help students meet goals they themselves have set.

Parent may choose to supplement with some curriculum materials in order to fill gaps.

Individualized Education

Parents use a combination of purchased curriculum and materials they write or assemble themselves in order to create a fully customized educational experience. Within the bounds of the laws of their states, parents have complete freedom to tailor their schedules, resources, and approaches to meet the needs of their children.

Students may also participate in an educational or enrichment co-op groups in order to supplement but not supplant work done at home.

At The Flourish Workshop, we work hard to provide resources that you can use to supplement a school-based education, to meet the needs of unschooled students, and to develop an individualized home-based education for your children. We hope to be a source of support and encouragement as you guide your children on their educational journeys. The greatest benefit of this lifestyle is that we get to participate fully in this journey of exploration and learning together with our children as they seek, discover, and claim their destinations.

The Time That Is Given Us

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. 

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

If you have spent any time reading history, you know that people living during every period have had to face significant and unprecedented challenges. Right now, we are in the midst of one of the greatest collective challenges most of us have ever experienced. The world itself has seen plenty of pandemics come and go, but we have not. To us, it is novel, and it is difficult. I think most of us wish it need not have happened in our time. We wish we could have gone on living our lives without a thought to face masks, distancing, or the potential long-term effects of this virus on our bodies, our families, our communities, our nation, and our world.

But these times are ours, and we must do what we can to keep moving forward, even if we cannot physically move beyond the walls of our houses or the boundaries of our communities without risk. We are all trying to figure out how to do this, but the key lies in how we choose to spend the 24 hours that are given to each of us in equal measure each day.

15 Stay-At-Home Summer Fun Activities

With summer camps, road trips, fireworks, and so much more cancelled this summer, we are all scrambling to find ways to make this time special and fun for our kids. Below, you will find a list of 15 activities that are perfect for a stay-at-home summer. You can find complete directions (and 37 more fun activities!) in Vintage Poetry for Modern Kids. On days that are too hot or too wet to get outside, you can share a poem or two over glasses of cold lemonade.

  1. Make and fly a sled kite.
  2. Create a diorama from natural materials.
  3. Mix up some cookies for the birds.
  4. Listen to the whistling wind.
  5. Preserve the outlines of summer flowers and ferns with sun prints.
  6. Give the fairies a place to live.
  7. Make pinwheels and watch them spin.
  8. Make tin can luminaries to light up the evenings.
  9. Start seedlings in newspaper pots.
  10. Gather materials from around the house to make a wind chime.
  11. Plant grass in egg shells.
  12. Make a mosaic from seeds.
  13. Make and sail a craft stick raft.
  14. Make rock animals.
  15. Press flowers and make them into bookmarks.

Navigating the Intersection of Home and School

Welcome to the Flourish Workshop’s Blog! We are genuinely glad you are here.

We fondly recall the golden age of blogs. Once upon a time, they were full of useful information, helpful advice, fun projects, and inspiration for living a full, happy life. We miss those days, and in this space, we hope to provide the same type of substantive, practical, useful, and fun content that we valued so highly.

Our goal here is to help you navigate the intersection of home and school. By that, we mean that we are looking forward to discussing ideas related to education, to providing resources to help you educate your kids, and to sharing ideas, recipes, and tools that we have found useful in managing the day-to-day challenges of running a household.

We want this to be a friendly, helpful, open-minded space, and we are excited to see how it grows.