I hate to lesson plan. I’m also the queen of procrastination. I love to fool myself into thinking I’ll get started early every year so that I have plenty of time to work on it. Actually following through with these grand plans is unfortunately not my strong suit.
When I found myself two weeks before our school year was supposed to start without having my lesson plan started (or any curriculum purchased), I started to panic. Thankfully, Illuminations came into my life and forever changed the way I lesson plan.
What is Illuminations, Jenn?
Let me fill you in my friends. Illuminations is the best solution for procrastinating homeschool moms (who hate to lesson plan). It’s basically a curriculum guide that you can completely customize to fit your individual homeschool needs. It centers around the Mystery of History or All American History Series.
Lesson plans, guides, and reading schedules are combined within the Illuminations software and are geared towards grades 3-12. The smaller kiddos in grades K-2, however, can also participate in the lessons with their bigger siblings with the extra teaching ideas included for these lower ages. That makes this a well-rounded curriculum option that can be included for all grades, which makes my day run a whole lot smoother around here.
The subjects that the Illuminations program covers include:
- Language Arts (including grammar, spelling, writing, copy work, and vocabulary)
- Life skills
Math, unfortunately, is the only subject not included in this program.
How does Illuminations Work?
That’s the best part of this curriculum. The planning is already done for you. Once you install the program, all you have to do is select which History and Science programs you will be using, how many weeks you plan to do school, and which subjects you want to include. With the click of a button – your whole entire school year is planned for you. We’re talking lesson’s planned right down to the page numbers!
Here’s a video tutorial that Bright Ideas Press (the company who makes Illuminations) put together that explains how to install and use the Illuminations software.
How Using Illuminations in Our Homeschool Saves My Sanity
I decided to try out Illuminations Year 4 with the All American History Volume 1 spine in our homeschool this year. We chose this mostly because they have the junior bundle which is perfect for my girls to use at their current ages (9, 8, and 5).
Once I purchased and received all of the books I needed for the year (including the suggested literature books) I sat down at the computer to start planning. I chose which subjects I wanted to include and how many weeks our homeschool year would last, and that was it! Everything was planned!
I couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was. My stress level went from 10 to 0 in a matter of a few clicks. It was glorious! From that point on, all I had to do was print the schedule and worksheets out, and file them away in our trusty “school box”.
At the beginning of each week, the girls find their color-coded folder for that week (something I learned from Kristi Clover). These folders already have their Illuminations printed schedule, and any worksheets they need to complete throughout the week all tucked away inside.
From here they organize their work into the daily folders in their binders. Once their binders are organized and ready to go – we are set for the week. We work together as a family on the majority of these subjects – only splitting up to work on math since they are all on different levels. This also gives me time to individually work with Lil Sis on her Kindergarten work.
What I love the most about this new schedule of ours is that the older girls can easily work independently. This is fantastic for the days that my anxiety induced migraines seem to conquer.
When I can’t get out of bed early the girls know to grab their binder and get to work. When I’m back to functioning again we go over everything they did and discuss what they’ve learned.
The other thing I love about Illuminations is the suggested literature. The suggested literature books are entertaining to read, and are directly related to what we are currently studying at that time. They also include activities that are a good mixture of answering questions and hands-on activities.
It’s almost as if we are completing unit studies since all of these subjects reinforce the same concept. I can see that my girls are actually absorbing all of the information that I am cramming into their poor, unsuspecting brains.
How to Buy Illuminations
If you haven’t already caught on, I am a really big fan of the Illuminations software. If you are lesson plan hating homeschool mom (like me) who gets easily overwhelmed (also like me) and loves to procrastinate (yep, you guessed it), then this program is for you!
Have you ever used the Illuminations program? What was your favorite part of the curriculum? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.