How to Write Your Own Lesson Plans, Part 2; Completing and Motivating

You’ve decided to write your own lesson plans! Good for you! If you’re this far you’ve probably already filled out a Course of Study for each of your students. Now you know what subjects and what materials will be covered for the year. Now the trick is to take all that information and break it down into smaller chunks.


First, make a note of what materials you still need to purchase or borrow from the library. You’ll need everything in front of you before you can write out your schedule. (If I’m using a literature book from the library later in the trimester, I’ll often just check how many pages it is on the library’s website or Amazon so I know how many weeks my child will need to read the whole thing.) Assuming you school for 180 days, or 36 weeks,  you’ll need to make sure you have materials selected to cover the entire year, and make notes about whether something will need to be stretched to fit or cut in parts to work with your schedule and overall goals.

For example, this is what I hope to cover this year in physics between four books with ‘The World of Physics’ being our spine. It probably won’t take 36 weeks, but we’ll move through everything and when we’re done, I’ll consider it a complete science course. I also have a physics experiments kit if the kids want to delve deeper.

I write out my assignments by week and since I discovered the format of the Ambleside Online curriculum, I’ve started using the ‘Table’ feature in Google Docs to type out my plans. I keep each child’s week on a different sheet of paper. My older students also get a copy so they can see what is expected of them in all subjects for the coming trimester.

8th grade
I created a new document and added one 9×8 table and one 7×9 table. Then I typed in Addie’s work. She also has her own planner to help keep track of assignment given by her teachers.

If you only have a few younger students, you may be able to include all their subjects on a single page.

lesson plans
Lesson plans from 2011-12. Two page layout for each week, with each days work written in and the family subjects on the side and bottom. Addie 4th, Byron 2nd and Edie in Kindergarten.


2012-13; three kids on one page with each days assignments written in. I used a teacher’s planner from Dollar Tree. Ultimately, writing in all these assignments by hand got to be too much and later trimesters were much less complete. Typed up, weekly lessons make things 10x easier on me.

Make note of any online classes start and end dates as well as breaks. Also note if a class continues while your family may be on break. Then plug into each square the work for each week.

4th grade lesson plans
What Edie’s trimester looks like.


Same goes for a daily schedule. If your family works on subjects together, they can be condensed on a page together as well.

school subjects
We do family work on Friday’s. Here’s what’s on tap for the fall. Whoops! Religion is blank! Please assume the best.

It all looks so nice and new and educational!!!! But now, how do you make your kids do their work???? Simple! Corporal punishments!


I find my kids work independently when I make it easy for them to do so. They each have a desk with supplies and they know where extra supplies are located. Their lesson plans are taped to the tops of their desks so they know what to do each week, plus each has a daily check list of tasks they must complete before they are allowed to use their electronic devices.

6th grade desk
Byron’s desk. You can see the daily checklist at the bottom. Sometimes if the kids are having a hard time remembering work, I’ll make them check subjects off with a dry erase marker.

Using a screen with incomplete work equals a loss of screen time the next day. It works great for us, but any consistent punishment for missed work could get the job done. If you really hate being a task master, out source the duty to an online teacher. Sometimes all kids need is someone besides mom telling them to get something done. As I mentioned in the previous post, I purposely pick work that doesn’t require me to sit and hover. I also allow my kids to watch Khan academy videos when they don’t understand a new math concept. Not hovering ultimately helps them learn to figure things out themselves.

When all you have are littles, it may seem like the day will never come when you won’t have to help with everything. To speed the process along, focus on reading, because once they can read their own instructions-BOOYAH! Also, have realistic expectations for the time your younger children spend on a subject. Addie in eighth grade can easily spend 45 minutes on math but I would never expect more than 25 from Fulton in second. Any younger and consider the preschool circuit idea for helping kids learn to sit and work from a young age.

Stick with your plans for a semester or trimester and then see what worked and what didn’t. By writing your own plans, you can make tweaks to help things run smoothly. I also recommend keeping previous years plans. I actually keep hard copies in a binder, but storing them online is fine too. Unless your children require very different materials, you’ll be able to reuse your plans down the road.

I think that about covers it. Did I miss anything? Do you think you could write lesson plans for your children or have you already found the perfect plans? Leave your questions and comments below! I will respond and update as necessary! (And don’t forget I now offer homeschool consulting; I’d love to help you tackle your challenges one on one!)


  1. When you use weekly plans, how do you apply them on a daily basis? I like your approach but I am trying to iron out all the practical stuff, like how much to read each day, etc.

    1. For workbooks like Spelling and Phonics, each weekly lesson is four pages long. Since we do family subjects on Friday, that means one page a day (plus a spelling test on Fridays). When we used math workbooks, I would give a set number of pages, like two a day, and change it if the child was struggling or was bored and needed to skip ahead a few pages. You’ll find most workbooks have the pages broken into weekly sections, like four or eight pages of material and then a review page or two.
      For literature I find the number of pages and then think about how many pages my child can be expected to read in a day and mark it for the correct number of days. (For example, if Edie reads 5 pages a day, 5 days a week, she can read a 150 page book in five weeks and that’s how I mark it down.)
      I don’t read aloud from chapter books everyday. Picture books for Fulton and Teddy yes, but I only read history, science, Shakespeare, etc. on Fridays. If I don’t finish it that day, I carry it until the next week or ask the older children to finish it on their own.
      I’ve also found it easiest to do a little bit of writing everyday, even if a child only completes one assignment or narration every couple days. So the habit is write everyday and if you finish early, double check, revise or do a journal entry.
      It’s not an exact science, but after a couple years of trying to write out everything for every day I found just saying “two pages daily” or “complete chapter one” was good enough for us and saved me a lot of writing. And several times, I changed plans for a child who was having a hard time or due to a family emergency and it was exasperating to have to update every. daily. entry with the new work assignments.
      Once you get more experience, you’ll find how detailed you need to be. Let me know if this answers your question!!

      1. Yes! It totally answers my question! That makes a lot of sense. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to plan effectively but also still have built-in flexibility. And not go insane with all the little things. The first year our box curriculum was way too rigid and detailed, and last year I overcompensated by doing almost no planning, haha. Neither have worked well for us! I’m sure it will take practice but my oldest is only in 2nd grade so I feel like we have time to figure it out. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this!

  2. THanks so much for this! You probably don’t recall but in a frantic fit of hysteria last year I left this humongous comment on your blog about not knowing any homeschoolers here in LA and you were so sweet to reply (in like 2 hours or something I was so excited!). Anyways we are starting on our first full year of homeschool. I ambitiously decided that I could write better lesson plans than Laura Berquist (at MODG) and so next week we start school and I have some great stuff to work with but no lesson plans, lol.

    I figured I could just spend a few min on it each night after bedtime and clean up (hahahaha). So now I’m wondering, when you say you carved out time for this, do you mean like actual real time and not just at 11 pm after bedtime in between checking Facebook notifications? I’m super getting into your independent work idea (and she can do it, for sure) but of course she can hardly work independently if there isn’t even a lesson plan. :-\

    Anyways, thanks again and good luck this year!

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