The reason lesson plans help me so greatly is because it reduces the stress of homeschooling. Each child is given their lesson book and each day they know exactly what to do. Certainly I could tell them each hour what to do - but that requires a lot of extra energy from me (asking what they have finished, thinking about what else we have on the list, listening to the sighs and groans when I tell them to work on this or that - it's exhuasting, really). If I put in the effort now, it makes the school year much less draining for me.
I used to put up a generalized check list and have them check the subject when it was done. This worked just fine for a few years. However, because of added responsibility in my life this year (I'm now a seminary student working on my Masters in Biblical Studies at Liberty Baptist University - YEE HAW!), I need the list to be more detailed. I will write down exactly what page they should do in math, which pages to read in science and every last detail of every assignment, attempting to coordinate this with extra curricular stuff as well. This will require a great deal of upfront work, but it will truly be helpful to me. Because I'll be waking up extra early to work on my own schoolwork, I will need all the energy I can to get through their school day. So, having a detailed schedule for each child empowers them to take responsibility over their schedule. My job will change from governer to facilitator. I can answer specific questions related to the subject and sit alongside while they go through their list.
I do highly recommend scheduling for the busy homeschooler. Even if you like to take days off here and there for fun and field activities, a schedule will really keep you more productive on the days when you are at home trying to churn out some schoolwork.
I like to take the schedules and have them bound into a book for the children to use. Often, however, I do change the schedule from time to time, so I have to reprint and rebind the book. It's worth the effort because it helps my children to become more independent.
I uploaded a sample page from each of the kinds of scheduling I do for the school year. If you would like to see them, click on the links below:
This is the generalized schedule. I must still be very involved with getting them going, telling them what book to read and which pages, etc. This schedule has the actual date on the schedule.
To see my more specific schedule (this is actually not totally complete as I haven't filled in every page and assignment, but you'll get a good idea). It does not have the date, but the day - we have to complete 180 days of school work, so I made a 180 day schedule. Days that we take off for field study will factored into the end of the schedule.