Help! Our homeschool plan isn’t working. What now?

Preview: Even the best-made plans sometimes don’t work out. Keep these three principles in mind when your homeschool plan isn’t working.

You have a plan for your homeschool year, and you have a planner, but it’s not working. With all of the distractions of running a household and teaching multiple ages, it can be challenging to implement what you spent so much time planning. Not to mention that you discover the curriculum you just invested in doesn’t meet the needs of your children.

Even the best-made plans sometimes don't work out. Keep these three principles in mind when your homeschool plan isn't working.

When our homeschool days are crazy, the schedule isn’t working, or the curriculum isn’t what I thought it would be, I have to remind myself to take it one step at a time and focus on making forward progress. When I view our homeschool journey as a marathon instead of a sprint, it is easier to roll with the punches. I keep my end goal in mind and take the next right step.

And when the day seems particularly crazy, I keep the following three principles in mind: go back to the basics, hold my plans loosely, and stay focused. These three principles help me let go of some of the stress so I can enjoy the homeschool process more and build relationships with my children, even when our homeschool plan isn’t working. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

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Go Back To The Basics

When I feel overwhelmed and want to throw in the towel, I re-read our homeschool mission statement to remember why we are homeschooling.

And I revert to our “Back to the Basics” list. Instead of trying to accomplish everything, I focus on completing the items on our basics list. I’ve also seen this referred to as a minimum viable day.

To create your own “Back to the Basics” list, work through these three steps.

  1. Make a list of your basics. This list should include subjects you need to cover or activities you need to do every day. Keep it short and attainable. This list will be what you follow when your spouse is home, someone is sick, or the day is just crazy.
  2. Write out your ideal school day, excluding supplemental subjects. This list should include the items on your basics list plus additional subjects you want to cover or activities you want to do when you can complete a full school day. Again, keep this list attainable. Aim to work through this list three days a week. If that is not possible, spread the addittional subjects out over more days.
  3. Make a list of supplemental subjects. This list can include subjects such as art, picture study, composer study, poetry, etc. As you have additional time on any of your school days (or a Saturday/Sunday), work on the next item on the list during whatever time you have available. Rotate through the list, and eventually, you will be able to cover all of the subjects.

In the special episode of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, I answer a question a homeschool mom raised about how to do more than the basics in your homeschool.

Hold Your Plans Loosely

Homeschooling our children is an adventure, and unfortunately, it does not come with a guidebook. In episode 23 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, Heather Haupt, a second-generation homeschooler, reminds us of the importance of making plans but holding them loosely. 

Having a plan allows you to be intentional. But that doesn’t mean the plan will always work. Sometimes even the best made plans don’t work out as we expected. Holding your plans loosely enables you to make changes as needed to help your children succeed and learn in their own way and at their own pace.

  • There is no homeschool guidebook. What works for one family may not work for yours and what works for one child may not work for another. Every child is different.
  • Make plans but hold them loosely. Know your objective so you can let go of expectations so you can help your child learn how he learns best. Maintaining a developmentally appropriate approach will help you know how and when to push your child so he can make progress while working at his own pace.
  • Don’t micromanage your children. Allow them to learn in their own way. Help them take responsibility for their education; what they learn sticks better when they do.
  • Homeschooling (and parenting) is not always easy. Enough said.
  • Give yourself grace and freedom to explore alternatives. Sometimes our children need an approach that we would normally not consider. When your homeschool plan isn’t working, you may need to think outside the box.
  • Connect with Heather

Stay Focused

There are so many resources available to homeschool our children. It can be challenging to keep our focus. In episode 15 of the All in a Homeschool podcast, I share the four questions I ask myself to determine my motivation for making a change when our homeschool plan isn’t working as well as tips to help you successfully make changes to your homeschool without becoming stressed.

Four questions I ask to determine my motivation for making a change:

  • Is this motivated by fear, guilt, or shame?
  • Am I trying to meet someone else’s expectations?
  • Is my child struggling?
  • Am I chasing after a shiny object (next, new, great thing)?

Questions to decide how to make a change:

  • Can I make the change a special time in our routine?
  • Can I make a short term block of time to focus on one or two subjects?
  • Can we do this activity or subject once or twice a month?
  • Do I need to stop doing something else so I can add the new activity?
  • Do we have a good routine to cover the basics that we need to cover?

And a final note—only add one new thing at a time. Trying to make too many changes at once can cause more chaos and make the situation seem worse.

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