6 Steps To Planning Your Homeschool Year
I love to plan things! I’m always making lists and thinking about what needs to be done. Now I’m VERY flexible as to the following through on these plans. My children are still young and I believe in leaving a lot of room to follow learning rabbit trails. Still I think having a good overview of the year in advance is really helpful.
I school year round I find this is a wonderful and flexible way that fits our family really well. This method means we can have shorter days and not worry when “life” gets in the way of my plans.
Step 1. Pray
I know I say this in my planning posts a lot! But as a Christian prayer is a very important step in making decisions for myself. The Lord often helps me to see things in a different way or make use of things in a new way that fits our family better.
Step 2. Evaluate Your Past Homeschool Years
Look over your past year and decide what worked well for you and what needs to be changed.
Did you meet your goals?
Did you over plan?
Was something missing from your plans that you would like to add?
Do you need to chance curriculums or methods?
Step 3. Set Your Goals
Setting your goals I think is one of the most important steps in planning your homeschool year or any project! How can you get to your destination if you don’t know where your going? After you have taken time to look back and reflect on the past year it’s time to set new goals.
What areas of growth in your children would you like to work on?
What is your end goal, what do you want your children to know when their schooling is DONE?
What career choices are you children thinking about?
Do you really know why your homeschooling? Each of us homeschool for different reasons having a solid overview of WHY you feel it’s the best choice for your family will help keep you going when things get hard.
Step 4. Pick a Homeschooling Method
There are many popular methods to homeschooling. What method or methods closest fit your goals? Does it also fit your teaching style? What about your children's learning style?
I don’t believe in boxing yourself into any particular homeschooling method. I see these as great guides but not something to bend over backwards to try fit yourself into.
My personal style is Charlotte Mason mixed with unit studies, add in some hands on projects and a dash of unschooling or delight directed and that would describe us pretty well. I guess you would call us very eclectic!
Why is it important to find a homeschooling style that fits you? One reason is that it makes it a little easier to pick curriculum. Many curriculums are designed to fit a particular style of curriculum. So if you and your children enjoy a very hands on learning method, then perhaps a program with a lot of reading and few activities would not be the best fit.
Step 5. Plan Your Homeschool Year Schedule
I have used so many different planners I think I’ve lost count of them all! I’ve used planners made for teachers, general all propose planners, homeschool planners online and off line. It’s very important to find a planner that works well for YOU. If you don’t like they way it’s set up and the way it looks you wont be motivated to keep using it.
A planner is a tool you need to put it to work for you!
For years I’ve use a program called Homeschool Tracker Plus (HST+) to keep my plans in. Unfortunately this is no longer being sold but there is an Online version of Homeschool Tracker. I have not tried it yet.
In HST+ there is a handy calendar feature when setting up your school year. I select our first day of school. Since the public schools here in Ontario start back the day after Labour day that is when I consider our “official” first day. Then I select our last day of school, this is often the end of August. Then I can set how many days during the year I want to do lessons on, since many use the number 180 days I use this as well. There are no reporting requirements where I live so I don’t really need to keep track of attendance, I just use this for simplicity when planning.
After entering this HST+ will tell me how many days I have available for school. Then I tell HST+ how many terms I want and it divides up the weeks for me. I love that! It’s also really easy to add holidays and days off to your school year.
This year I’ve been using Homeschool Planet and really enjoying that as well. Homeschool Planet is an online planner and I love that I can set up student logins. For independent work I can have the kids log on and just work through their list. This is great for many of the online programs we use for math, LA and science. It is also very easy to set up your school year calendar in Homeschool Planet.
If you don’t like using online planners there are many wonderful paper planners available. Donna Young has an amazing selection of
on her homeschool site. Some of my favourite planners are the
Schoolhouse planners. I get these FREE as part of my membership to the Schoolhouse Teachers website. I really enjoy the planners because they have every form I can think of, but you don’t have to use them all of course! There are planners for children and planners for us homeschooling mommas. You can type in them in the editable PDF or print them and write by hand.
No matter what method you choose it’s important to take some time to mark out what days and weeks your planning as holiday and vacation time.
Step 6. Set Up A Homeschool Schedule
Ok here you’ve got me, I am NOT a schedule person at all! Nope it just doesn’t work for me, however I find it very helpful to set up a routine. This routine gives us a guideline to work from but is not set in stone.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I like to get up early or not?
Do the kids work better in the morning or afternoon?
Do I have outside the home commitments on certain days/times?
What chores need to be done daily?
For my routine I don’t set times I just list things in the order that I would like to work on them. So if I know some of my children need help with reading or math I’m not going to list that on their schedule when I know I’m normally nursing the baby. Instead I make sure this would be listed before or after when I know I’ll have time to sit and help.
After you have gone through these steps you have a good solid base to start your more detailed lesson planning on. I hope this has helped if you have any questions just ask!