Lesson plans can get expensive, there’s no question about that. If you have multiple kids, or simply live on a budget, spending a ton of money on lesson plans and other academic materials just isn’t feasible. The good news is, it isn’t that difficult to design your own lesson plans! In fact, it may even be better for your child(ren), as you can personalize it based on your children’s interests and learning style.
When we first started homeschooling, I honestly didn’t think I had what it took to create our own lesson plans. After all, I went to public school, and I lived in the same delusion that I like to call the “brainwashing of public school” mentality. In other words, I thought that in order to learn, you had to have a text book and a professionally designed set of activities and assignments. Don’t get me wrong, some children learn best this way. Still, it isn’t necessary to have all of that to be successful at teaching your kids.
In all seriousness, you, as parent of your child, are best qualified to create lesson plans for your child. It doesn’t matter if you are “qualified” by the state’s standards. I say that because YOU and you alone know your child best. YOU know what his or her interests are, what motivates him or her and how he or she learns better than any public school teacher. You also don’t have to worry about teaching the same material to 20-30 other children, and therefore can devote personal time to his or her education.
Things to Know Before You Begin
The first thing to consider is what interests your child. This doesn’t necessarily mean what subjects interest him, although that is part of it. Obviously, there are going to be some things that your child will have to learn that he may not be interested in. Overall, you need to determine a way to get his attention and keep it. The secret to making learning enjoyable is to make it fun! This is best accomplished by planning activities that he enjoys, thereby absorbing the material better.
Next, what kind of motivation gets him going? Does he like to work more for his own gratification, or does he work for your approval? What gets him motivated to get his work done, and do it well? Once you answer that, you will have the key to having him finish his school work (which, we all know, is the secret to preventing Mommy’s headaches and frustration!!)
Finally, how does your child learn? Some kids learn best by reading material; others by watching videos, and still others by doing. It’s important to learn by which method your child(ren) learn best. Once you know this little tidbit, school will be a breeze; it will also be more enjoyable for everyone involved. It has been my experience that the presentation of material should be done in at least 3-4 different ways to ensure your child fully absorbs it, remembers it, and understands it. As an example, if your child learns best by listening to information, present the material in a lecture while he takes notes, then show a video AND assign a reading assignment. That’s 4 different methods (listening, writing, watching and reading), which makes it more likely your child will remember the material.
Knowing these 3 things will help ensure that you create the most effective lesson plans for your child(ren).
4 Main Parts of a Lesson Plan
Every lesson plan should have the same 4 parts: presentation, activities, skills practice and assessment. The good thing about homeschooling is that you can tailor each section of a lesson plan to fit your needs. Here’s a quick description of each section.
The first and most obvious part of a lesson plan is the material presentation. Let’s say you are creating a lesson plan on Gods of Greek Mythology. You need a way to get the information into your child’s brain! We can create an outline of specific topics we want to cover:
Yes, I know that there are more, but this is just for an example! 😉 The outline would also most likely go more in-depth of the stories behind each “God” that resided in Mount Olympus. Remember that the lesson plan you are creating will need to fit in with the age of your child(ren). With that said, let’s continue on, and create a printable outline to give to your child as a handout. Tell your child the story of each God from mythology, and make sure they have notes.
You can also choose a few books for him to read or a movie about the Greek Gods.
Any or all of the above are great methods of presenting the material to your child as part of your lesson plan.
The second part of your lesson plan will be the activities; obviously, this is the part where your child will be doing something related to the material presented. The activities you choose will depend on the age of your child, and can be anything from coloring a picture to filling out a Q&A about the Greek Gods. Web quests can be fun and engaging for a large age span, depending on, of course, what your child’s interests are.
This is where you can be creative depending on the material’s topic. For this topic, you could create scenes, write stories, act out the stories…really, the possibilities are endless.
There’s an extremely thin line between what I’m labeling “Activities” and “Skills Practice”. When I say “Skills Practice”, I am referring to using other learning skills to reinforce the topics being studied. For example, you may choose to sew a reproduction of what the Greek Gods wore; or perhaps cook a dish that can represent the mythology of the time.
Other examples of skills practice could be drawing a picture, writing a poem or a story, presenting a speech or writing a research paper. You can implement anything that will help your child practice other skills they are learning while emphasizing the material in this lesson plan.
Last but not least, you need to include a method of assessing how well your child retained the information. Contrary to what many people believe, the assessment doesn’t necessarily need to be a quiz or a test. It can be done in a much more subtle way, such as having her write an impromptu paper or participate in a debate. One method we use a lot is discussion. Simply ask your child questions and discuss the answers. This is also a great way to find out more about your child’s interests.
Now that you have gotten some tips on how to create your own lesson plans, you’ll be able to save a lot of money! Remember that homeschooling doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and doesn’t have to exist primarily of textbooks and writing questions.
Have you created your own lesson plans? Describe your methods in the comments below!