Hi there friends, as I’m finishing up this post and getting ready to publish it we have officially completed our first homeschool day for the 2021-2022 school year! Woohoo! Today I want to take a few moments to answer some of your questions regarding planning.
Part of what makes homeschooling so great is that you’re in charge of planning. You have the ability to create and build your days around your schedule and your children/family’s needs. Today I wanted to take some time to share how I approach homeschool planning. This isn’t meant to be a step by step guide of what YOU need to do, but rather a basic idea of what I’ve found works for us and simple tools to help you create a rhythm for your family.
When Should I Start Planning?
We began our homeschool journey smack dab in the middle of a school year. Talk about stressful. I had nothing. No materials, no prep work, no plan or schedule, no idea what I was doing. I’m forever grateful for my church community that came alongside me and offered advice, material, prayers, guidance. It was such a blessing during a time that in all honesty was very stressful. Exciting, but stressful. So Mama, I know what it feels like to feel unprepared. I’m here to tell you, it’ll all work out and you’ll get to a point where you can take a deep breath and feel like you have a handle on it. It will never be perfect, I’m not promising you’ll never be stressed, but it does get easier. In my experience, I have found that beginning my planning in the spring before the end of the current school year is the best method for me. We are still doing schoolwork, I’m seeing what is working and what isn’t, we’ve partially completed some curriculums. Everything feels fresh in my mind. Beginning here also gives me adequate time to research, order and become familiar with the new material. I think March is a good time to start thinking about the following school year. This year all my curriculum was ordered by April/May and I’ve been slowing flipping through and looking ahead.
Researching and Choosing Curriculum
We tend to lean towards Classic/Charlotte Mason style learning and have found curriculums we love and that work well for us. I suggest knowing your style and spending time researching it and the curriculums that fall within those different styles. Also if you’re looking for a Christian/Biblical worldview education you will need to research to make sure the curriculums fall within your specific wants or at least knowing you feel comfortable using it and then addressing any opposing views you have with your children as you work through it.. Talk to friends and family that homeschool, join homeschool groups, reach out and ask questions about specific curriculums. Don’t be afraid to try new ones, sometimes it is a trial and error type of thing.
Where Can I Purchase Curriculum?
I typically begin with the publisher. I make a list of each curriculum I want and the materials that go along with it. For example ABEKA, you can buy a complete kit, but I don’t necessarily use everything within the kit. For me it’s easier to decide what I want/need and then buy separately. If I don’t need a kit, I try to buy secondhand. I look on Amazon, FB Marketplace, I also check ThriftBooks as well. Often times I’m able to buy several secondhand items especially our readers for language arts. If I can’t find what I want secondhand I typically buy from the publisher, Rainbow Resource, or Christian Books
Lesson Planning and Daily Scheduling
Once you’ve chosen a curriculum and made your purchases it’s time to start planning. I suggest beginning with a schedule. Consider these things.
- What do I want our day to look like?
- Do I want to create time slots for each subject or let my child work through their subjects without a strict time schedule?
- How many children will I be teaching?
- What activities outside of the home need to be included?
- When will I be completing my personal daily tasks?
When I first began teaching my son, it was just him. So I didn’t have to consider how I was going to teach another child that was three years younger. This past year was a different story and I won’t lie…we had some bumps…and adjusting. Before having to teach both boys separately my youngest would literally just sit on my lap or on the floor at my feet and play. But this past year I had to figure out how I was going to allow each boy my focus without distracting the other that was working independently. I decided to go with a block time schedule and this worked well for us, but I didn’t figure this out until about mid year last year, haha .Below is a picture for this upcoming year and how I’m planning on laying out our days. I’m sure some tweaking will come, but for now I’m hopeful. We have Co-app once a week. We meet with other homeschoolers and focus on science, history, art and p.e. On co-op days my main focus will be math, language, and reading only. I also try to use science and history curriculums that are family friendly. Something that I can easily use with both boys and adjust as needed for my younger son since he’s obviously on a different comprehension level.
As far as lesson planning this all depends on your approach. For example we use Abeka and I purchase the teachers manual to correspond with the workbooks. I do this because it’s basically open and close and requires little prep, yet it still offers me a hands on approach to teaching my boys. Part of why I homeschool is because I want to be involved. I genuinely enjoy teaching them. So based off the curriculum you use you will need to decide how much or how little you need/want to schedule ahead and what kind of plans if any that you’ll need to create. The bulk of my lesson planning is inputting information from my manuals and some prep work like gathering spelling lists, test papers, outlining our required reading, etc. For me, I like to at least have a quarter of the school year laid out at a time. Some people like going week to week, some literally just open and close that day and briefly glance at it the day before. Some plan an entire year ahead. Because I have a teachers manual most of my work is done, however I like to create a folder for each of my boys. This folder contains their daily work for an entire week. The first sheet in their little folder for their weekly work is their lesson plan for the week and the reading required of them. We go over this in the beginning of the week/each morning so that we all know what’s going on for that day. As they work we can check off what’s been accomplished. This plan allows me to see everything in one spot rather than having to flip through 6 different workbooks. As I mentioned before I like to plan at least a quarter of the year at a time, I have folders I keep their lesson plans and corresponding worksheets/tests in. Each week on a Sunday I’ll remove the completed work, file it in their binder and update their folder for the new week [worksheets and a lesson plan for the week outlining their work]. My older son likes some of his worksheets to remain in his workbooks so not all of his worksheets are in his folder. My younger son, however, likes everything all in one place and doesn’t like working from a workbook [it’s too bulky for him] Either way works because they have their spread sheets, so if it’s a worksheet in a separate book it’s still listed as required work and they simply have to grab the workbook to complete it. I hope that makes sense!
There are so many different approaches to homeschooling [again that’s the beauty of it] this will definitely vary depending on your style and approach. Some people choose unit studies instead of workbooks and traditional curriculum so your planning may look different from mine and that’s okay. For those of you who approach your lessons similarly to mine I hope you found this post helpful! I’m always happy to chat in the comments so feel free to leave some below!