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My laptop crashed a couple of weeks ago and I needed to replace it. Of everything that was on my old laptop, the thing that panicked me most was that I had lost an entire year's worth of pre-planned homeschool lesson plans. I was about to cry when I realized, “Wait a minute! I use Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press.” (They are one of my blog sponsors.) “I don't need to panic. With their scheduler, I can re-plan my entire year for all 3 children in less than 15 minutes!”
In actual fact, it took 3 minutes to set up our upcoming school year. It was so crazy-fast that I knew I needed to show you how I did it!
How To Plan a Year's Worth of Lessons in Under 5 Minutes
First I had to go to the Bright Ideas Press website and reinstall the software. When you purchase Illuminations you receive 2 download links. The scheduler is the software that makes the magic happen and it takes about 2 minutes to download. The module is all the information… all the assignments for all the subjects for all your children for the entire year. It took about 20 minutes to download. Once you've done that you're left with an icon on your desktop. The rest is fairly intuitive. Here's a video to see how quick and easy it is: (If you're reading this in your email, you may have to click through to the blog to see the video)
Note: Bright Ideas Press suggests creating one schedule per child, so that the children don't get overwhelmed by seeing all their siblings assignments, too. Because of the ages of my children, it works better for me to just create one master schedule for myself. My weekly master schedule takes 3 pages to print out, but it lists every subject and every assignment for every child. Then I simply use my highlighters and I color code the assignments. Each child gets their own color of highlighter for subjects that they are working on independently (like English and Math) and the subjects we do together as a group (which is most of them) get highlighted in green.
Here's a picture of my planner in action:
As you can see, there's lots of space for writing in our activities after-the-fact if we do things that are not pre-planned on the schedule.
How to Customize the Illuminations Homeschool Scheduler
Following the steps in the video above results in a basic schedule. The one subject Illuminations does not include is math. Our family uses Math U See. I've also added a few elective subjects like music, art and family studies and deleted some fiction assignments I'm going to skip. The video below shows how I tweak the basic schedule by adding and deleting subjects and individual lessons:
Tour of Illuminations By Bright Ideas Press
Once the scheduler is installed and you have your year's schedule created, the next step is to start teaching! I'll be honest. I was an unschooler before I started using Illuminations and this was my first attempt at using formal curriculum in my homeschool. It was a learning curve for me. When I first started clicking around I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that I was preparing to teach. This program contains every lesson for every subject for every student (I have 3!) for an entire year. That's a lot of information. But, by taking it slowly, one step at a time, now it's easy to find my way around! I have prepared this tour of Illuminations to show you exactly how it looks “on the inside”:
Illuminations is by far the quickest and easiest Homeschool Lesson Planning system I have found (and I have tried a lot of homeschool planners!) I love how user-friendly it is and how the scheduler can double as my record keeping. Less time homeschool planning means more time blogging! What would you do with the extra time freed up if you no longer had to worry about planning out your homeschool? Tell me in the comments!