“Planning your homeschool year.” Now there’s a phrase to instill intimidation in the most organized among homeschoolers! If you are new to homeschooling, the idea of planning out your homeschool could be especially overwhelming. Where do you even start? How do you plan homeschool lessons for the whole year? Homeschool planning fills many of us with dread and, eventually, procrastination. Having a plan should give us peace of mind, but the process to get there can seem insurmountable and anything but peaceful. We are here to help! Thankfully, homeschoolers have paved the way for several decades now, so there are numerous resources and tried-and-true methods at your disposal.
However, if you asked for our best advice, our answer would be simple. Do what works for your family. Even if all of the homeschool moms you know recommend certain methods or schedules, that doesn’t mean it’ll work for your family. Homeschooling is all about individuality, so the most important aspect of homeschool planning is to find what works for you and your children. Oftentimes, it takes trial-and-error to find the right balance, but homeschooling is forgiving and flexible!
Homeschool planning usually comes down to two categories: planning an entire year, and planning your daily schedule. While they do affect each other, the planning processes often feel different. Let’s talk about both.
How to Plan a Homeschool Year
When you go to plan your homeschool year, you are jotting down a broad blueprint for your homeschool journey. You can’t reach a destination without a plan, which is why planning the homeschool year is important. However, try to create a general, flexible plan. It is bound to change throughout the months, and that’s important to keep in mind or it can get stressful when life throws you curveballs. Think of your homeschool year plan as the skeletal framework of a building. Your day-to-day homeschooling will flesh out the structure, but the framework is still necessary for strength and direction.
Here are five practical steps for planning your year of homeschooling!
- Choose a planner. Consider what style of planner you’d like to use. For example, you could choose a pre-organized homeschool mom planner, such as this Sanity Saver Planner, you could choose a DIY homeschool planner, or even create your own bullet journal as a homeschool planner. You could even use an online planning system!
- Decide on the curriculum. Selecting a core curriculum is a difficult decision, especially when there are so many curriculum options available. It’s a challenge to decide what will work for your children, and also to make certain they learn everything they need. Perhaps consider a multi-subject homeschooling program to ensure all the essentials are covered.
- Settle on a homeschool method. There are several homeschooling methods, and some homeschoolers use a mix of multiple styles! Your homeschooling method will also depend on your child’s learning style and disposition. If you are homeschooling multiple children, a mix of methods may help reach each child effectively.
- Get organized. This is easier said than done, of course, but make sure your lesson plans, grading plan, assignments, testing, and projects are in place for the new year. To start, divide your homeschool year into semesters, and then the semesters into weeks. Your planning process will feel far more manageable when you work at it in sections. Using a homeschool lesson planner printable can also help.
- Add Electives. Consider your children’s interests outside of schoolwork. Would they like to participate in sports or music? How about gymnastics, calligraphy, or dance? Homeschoolers can absolutely still participate in electives, and they add not only dimension and interest to your weekly schedule, but fun and oftentimes, opportunities for teamwork.
How to Plan a Homeschool Week
Planning your weekly and daily homeschooling schedule feels far different than planning a homeschool year. At this point, you will decide how you want to structure your day and how much you’d like to accomplish in a week. Your daily schedule will determine how much schoolwork is done in a day, how far your students will progress week-to-week, and how busy your days will be.
Just as with your plan for the year, aim to stay flexible with your weekly schedule. Unfortunately, overplanning often leads to more stress when life doesn’t pan out as you planned. A strict schedule may lead to updating the plan each week out of necessity, and you may find yourself quickly exhausted or even burned out. A simple plan is sometimes the best!
- Choose a lesson planner. The sky’s the limit for your choices here. You could choose from traditional daily/weekly/monthly homeschool planners or one of many online organizational tools.
- Organize your day. At some point in planning, you’ll need to decide the order of subjects and study for the day. Will you start with morning read-aloud time? Or perhaps dive right into a more intensive subject, such as math, while your children are more alert? Will you keep your afternoons free for field trips and projects, or would you rather have a more relaxed morning?
- Schedule your week. Would you like to have a regular five-day week, or a four-day week for extra time for field trips or “catch-up” days? Or, perhaps you want to schedule a library day. When you are planning your days, it is also helpful to look at your week as a whole.
- Take a look at a homeschool lesson plan template. It is always helpful to see how other homeschool moms organize their homeschool schedules. While you don’t have to do anything the same as someone else, it can bring fresh inspiration and ideas for your own homeschool organization.
- Consider utilizing unit studies. If you haven’t heard of unit studies, they are a fantastic way to combine multiple subjects into an in-depth study about one topic. For example, if your child is interested in outer space, you could do an astronomy unit study and learn everything from the history of NASA to even building a spaceship at home. If you’re wondering how to plan a homeschool unit study, this site has multiple resources for getting started.
Homeschool planning is a task with which many homeschooling parents develop a love/hate relationship. Most of us love to have a plan and feel organized for the year, and in fact, we can’t successfully homeschool without one. However, the actual process of sitting down and figuring out the homeschool year is intimidating. We’ve been there, and we even feel the slight sting of dread nearly every year. However, your time and efforts are worthwhile in the end. With these tips, we hope you can have an easier time planning your homeschool year!