Does the thought of planning your next homeschool school year excite or terrify you? The planning process can be overwhelming. The key to simplify homeschool planning is to break the planning process down into small enough pieces so you can focus on the next task instead of being overwhelmed. Here’s the process I use to plan our homeschool year.
1. The Big Picture
Begin with the big picture of what goals and objectives you want to accomplish for the year. Some questions I ask during this stage include:
- Will we have a focus on a particular subject?
- Should I schedule a lighter load due to a lot of changes (such as a move or a new baby)?
- Will we have new activities (such as music lessons or a sport) that will affect our school schedule?
- Are there habits or skills my children need or want to learn?
2. Yearly overview
Choose which subjects you will cover and make a list. Include details such as the time period for history, the focus for science and nature study, and which artists and composers you will study. (Wondering what subjects we cover? It’s all detailed here.) While the list looks daunting, you will not cover every subject every day or even every week. Be sure to include subjects for the whole child—body, soul, spirit.
Choose resources for each subject if you are not using a boxed curriculum. Look through book lists and suggestions from other trusted sources to find the resources. A list of websites and books that I find helpful are listed under Teacher Education.
4. Determine resource frequency
Decide how often you will use each resource. Some will be daily, such as Bible reading and scripture memory. Others will be weekly, such as picture study and composer study. For resources such as a history book, divide the number of pages in the book by the number of weeks in your term or year to determine the number of pages you would need to read each week. If the number of pages each week is too long, consider using the book over two years instead of one.
5. Divide the year and distribute resources
Charlotte Mason recommended three twelve-week terms for the school year. I find it is helpful to plan three ten week terms plus one week for exams. This allows some flexibility for when (not if) life happens and you fall behind schedule. If you finish the term on schedule, you can use that additional week for field trips or a special interest study. Distribute the resources across the three terms.
6. Plan specifics
If you are using a paper planner, plan only two-six weeks at a time. There will be changes because it takes longer than anticipated to read a book, someone gets sick, or a book is not available at the library. And write your plans in pencil.
The Practical Planner by Susan Chrisman is an excellent resource if you prefer a paper planner.
If you are using an electronic planner, you can plan the whole year. I highly recommend Homeschool Planet. It is the BEST online homeschool planner.
7. Term and Year End Evaluations
Take some time to evaluate your student’s progress at the end of each term and at the end of the school year. What went well? What would you like to change for next year? The ABS’s of Looking Back from Susan Chrisman is helpful in walking you through the evaluation process. Remember that these days count as teacher workdays! If possible, schedule these on your school calendar so you don’t forget to make time to evaluate the term and year.
If you still have questions about planning your homeschool year or need some help to get started, I’d love to talk with you more. I’d love to talk with you more
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