Plan Your Homeschool Year in Six Steps!
If you’re anything like me, you know that planning is important but you tend to put it off as long as possible. With it being the middle of July, I’d say that the time has come to start making a plan for the next school year, wouldn’t you? When it comes to homeschooling, it is pretty necessary to have a plan, even if you know that it is fluid and can and likely will change at some point in the year. Here, we’ll discuss some strategies for successful homeschool planning.
The first thing I always do is look back on last year and ask myself a few questions. I always write down my responses as well because it helps to formalize my thoughts. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Did last year’s plan work well?
- Did the plan change throughout the year?
- How do you feel you could improve in the organization or scheduling of your time?
- Did your students accomplish all their goals?
- Did you over-schedule or under-schedule?
- Did you build in enough breaks, vacations, or fun family activities throughout the year?
- What could be done better this year?
We talk in length about setting goals for your homeschool in other posts, so we won’t go too in-depth on this page. Now that you have a pretty good idea of what did and didn’t work last year, it’s a good time to set goals for the upcoming year. The most important thing is to make sure your family is on board and has a clear idea of your expectations.
3. Plot Your Big Dates
Lay out your yearly calendar. Next, take a big-picture view of the entire year. Fill in your vacations, breaks, holidays-anything that falls on the calendar and can’t be easily moved. We offer many ideas for homeschool calendars here, but the fabulous news is it’s very much up to you and your family’s schedule! I personally like to set up my school year with four terms, with breaks for my sanity in between. If your state requires a specific number of school days that you need to complete in a year, you’ll want to set specific start and end dates for your school year and terms. It’s also a good idea to include a week or two of additional days just in case.
4. Design Your Weekly Routine
Build your weekly routine. Establishing a regular routine for your week will help keep you sane, organized, and productive. As an example, my typical weekly routine looks something like this:
Sunday night: Look over the week, write out specific lesson plans and make sure I have all the resources and supplies I need.
Monday-Friday: Execute the plan by following the plans and make necessary modifications along the way.
Friday night: Review our progress, record grades, and get ready to relax for the weekend!
5. Begin Lesson Planning
This step will likely take the longest when planning out your year. If you are using a boxed curriculum it can go much faster as many of them have lesson plans already created for you. However, if you like to combine curriculum or create your own, you may need to spend a decent amount of time planning out how you would like to structure your courses for the year. It’s okay to take your time; this step is a critical component. Remember that these plans need to be flexible. Your students may need more time in certain areas or fly through others. I don’t typically like to plan too far out in specifics. Instead, I will break my subjects down into my calendar and create milestones. Then, I will plan specifically in one or two week increments. In this way, I know I would like to be in a certain spot by such time and I will plan and modify accordingly as we go.
6. Schedule the First Week
Even if the first day of school is still a few weeks away, it can be helpful to schedule that first week in advance. This will help you get a feel for how the week will look. Is it over-scheduled, under-scheduled, or just right? This is also a good time to schedule the weekly household duties and chores for your students. I also like to throw in breaks and their extra-curricular activities so I get a good idea of what their days will look like.
7. Make a Plan, or Plan to Fail
It definitely seems like a lot to do, but having a good plan to rely on can absolutely save your sanity and help you and your students stay on track this year! I hope it’s helpful to have a solid strategy for planning your year. Now go on, get to it! Happy planning!