Here's something that's been helping tremendously in the planning/organization/recordkeeping department, which has never, ever been my forté. Several weeks ago, I realized that my method of flying by the seat of my pants, especially since our transatlantic move, just wasn't working for anyone -- except possibly Caroline, who when left to her own devices will come up with things to do, such as expertly darning the holes in her father's wool sweater. Every day I'd try to pull plans and assignments for the kids out of my overloaded brain, and I think it was making all of us a bit anxious. I also felt kind of depressed, because I had no idea whether we were actually getting anything accomplished!
There are all kinds of helpful planning tools out there, but I made myself just pick one with good reviews and start test-driving it. And that's when I found Homeschool Helper for the iPad (also available for Nook and Kindle).
This app has more features than I really need -- I don't give my children grades, for example. But I use MOST of what it has to offer, and since at least two-thirds of my children plus myself function very well when we have a visual checklist to navigate, we're pretty much humming along by now.
On Sunday evening, I fill up their lists for the week (sometimes generating lessons in "batches," for things that repeat during the week, or repeat for more than one child). I consider any planned field trips and schedule things accordingly. Here's an example of how it works.
I select a child, and select a subject tab for that child. Here, you can see a list of Eliza's language arts (grammar and spelling) lessons for the next several days. (And the doubling up on spelling lessons is my error; just ignore that!) I've entered her lessons as a batch, and copied them to Caroline's language arts tab as well, so they both do grammar and spelling on the same days.
After filling in each subject, I can also enter field trips. There's an option to do field trips for each child or to enter them as family field trips, which is what makes most sense for us.
When Eliza opens her calendar page, she can click on today's date and see the lessons assigned.
Then, as she completes things, she checks them off. If something comes up and we decide we're going to skip that lesson today, it's easy to delete it or to change its date. Also, if she does something of her own initiative and wants to record it, she or I can retroactively enter it as a lesson and mark it as completed.
The app also generates all kinds of reports.
I use the Reading Log for books completed, either independently or with me.
This is a lesson report. Conveniently, it can be emailed to the child in the morning, which I don't really do with Eliza since she rarely checks her email and it's easier for her to just come look at the iPad. I do this sometimes with Ian, since he works more independently, but more often than not, he uses the iPad directly as well. In the future, I do envision that if he needs more accountability, he could email his completed list to Dad at day's end. I also envision him starting to do some of the planning himself before very long. We'll see.
Finally, you may have noticed that I included myself as a student on the opening page. Yes, I give myself daily assignments in math (Life of Fred!), nonfiction/spiritual reading, and literary classics. Much as I firmly believe that the best inspiration for lifelong learning that I can give my children is a good example, I still need the accountability to carry out that belief. Even if I'm just being accountable to an iPad. :-) That iPad, it just can't be fooled.