Inside: Homeschool planning made easy for the unorganized mom in simple and manageable steps.
The summer days are winding down. When you realize the last few days of camp are upon you, panic ensues. It’s time to start planning your next homeschool year, and you don’t know where to begin.
I have a confession to make. I am a flaky, homeschool mom. Yup, if I don’t have a plan and it isn’t written down somewhere (typically in at least three places), I forget.
In years past, life had a way of interrupting our homeschool year. Because I didn’t have a solid plan for our homeschool, I struggled to get back on track. I would begin the homeschool year in August with great intentions; however, come November, my plans would quickly fizzle out.
I DON’T want that for you.
Homeschool planning every year can seem daunting and overwhelming. Worry not, mama. Let’s say NO to the stress and feelings of overwhelm. With a little time and some focused planning, we will have you ready to face your homeschool year in no time.
Before you begin planning your homeschool year, gather your family calendar, lesson plans, yearly homeschool goals, and state standards. Grab your favorite planner (more on that), some fun pens (my favorite are these Frixion Erasable Pens or the Frixion Retractable Erasable Pens), and your favorite beverage. Now, let’s get to work.
Choose a Homeschool Planner
The number of homeschool planners available to you is endless. You can purchase a pre-bound homeschool planner, both paid and free print-on-demand planners, or a spiral notebook. If you prefer digital homeschool planners, check out Homeschool Panda (free) or Homeschool Planet (paid after free trial).
Finding a homeschool planner that fits your personal needs might take a little digging. A planner that works for one homeschool family might not work for another.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if you choose a fancy pen-and-paper homeschool planner or you choose the latest digital homeschool planner. Just find the one you love (or can live with) that works for you and your family.
You don’t have to stay married to it for your entire homeschooling career. You have to have a place to add your plans right now for this homeschool year.
Please don’t agonize over choosing a homeschool planner. You can always try a different one later down the road.
Here is a list of free printable planners from some amazing homeschool moms:
Shining Mom’s Homeschool Planner– 30+ Printables
Table Life Blog’s Super Simple Homeschool Planning Worksheets – Simple, pretty, weekly homeschool planning printables.
The Crafty Classroom’s Homeschool Planning Printables – Simple, cute homeschool planner printables. Be sure to find the link in the post for the updated planner.
Here are the bloom daily student planners I picked up for my kids from Amazon to use this school year:
Take a peek inside the Daisy student planner by bloom daily planners! I love the goals page and the reading page where the kids can rate the books on our reading list this year.
Decide on your homeschool recording keeping system
Along with deciding on your homeschool planner, you need to determine how you will track things like attendance, grades, portfolio artifacts, and transcripts.
Just like the planner, you have options. You can keep your recording system in a binder or online.
A good homeschool planner will have a place for grades and attendance. You can always add a section for transcripts and portfolio artifacts.
With a pen-and-paper recording system, you have the ultimate flexibility to create a system that works for you, customized by you.
Online options can have some great features like meal planning and sending text messages. Some online programs can even serve a dual purpose for planning and record-keeping.
A hybrid option would be to keep your planning and record-keeping separate. You can use a paper-and-pen planner and a private Facebook group to add artifacts for your students’ portfolios.
Again, find a system that works for you that doesn’t cause you to pull out your hair. Now that you have your homeschool planner and recording system in place, let’s start filling out that planner.
Reflect On Previous School Years
Before you can plan for your next school year you should take a moment or two to reflect on the previous school year.
- What worked well?
- What didn’t work well?
- Are there gaps in your students’ learning that need to be addressed this year?
- What are the opportunities for improvement for each family member?
- What does a successful homeschool year look like to you?
- Talk to your students: What do they want to learn?
Now that you have taken some time to look back on your previous school year, we are ready to get to the nitty-gritty of planning the year.
If this is your first year of homeschooling, be sure to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling.
Outline Your Year
Grab your family calendar and any days/dates already booked with a prior obligation. Immediately pen in those days (birthdays, vacations, doctors, appointments, etc.) in your planner as they are not negotiable.
Now, make a note of homeschool coop days, planned field trips, community service, homeschool conventions, and any extracurricular activities.
If you are anything like our family, your planner is already starting to seem full! Don’t panic. Seeing everything on paper provides a great visual so that you can scale back a jam-packed schedule.
My home state of Florida doesn’t have an attendance requirement for homeschoolers. Be sure to check your state’s homeschool laws for any attendance requirements.
Having an outline of your year lets you know right away if you are meeting, exceeding, or falling short of that requirement.
Plan Your Homeschool Schedule or Routine
Don’t let the thought of a schedule intimidate you. Build a schedule that fits your needs. If your family is more of the spontaneous type, that’s perfectly fine!
Drafting a schedule with paper and pen (or keyboard and screen) does not mean you are tied down. However, having a plan, whether concrete or a guideline, creates a routine that benefits not only your kids but also your homeschool.
Our homeschool schedule evolves continuously. We crave both structure and flexibility simultaneously.
Pro-tip: Use a pencil or erasable pens like the Frixion Erasable Pens or the Frixion Retractable Erasable Pens I mentioned above. When you are crossing out details on your planner because something inevitably changed, you will appreciate the eraser.
When you homeschool kids with special needs and learning disabilities, some tasks can wind up taking much longer than you first anticipated. We tend to stick to a “rough” outline of a schedule/routine to accommodate each kid’s needs.
Just remember, homeschool is not public school at home! You don’t need to start by 8 am, have lunch at noon, and dismiss your students at 3 pm.
Make Homeschool Planning Visuals
Once you get your schedule finalized, create a visual schedule to hang up for your family. I have a monthly calendar in view at all times for the kids to see what our monthly looks likes. They know just by glancing what we have going on for the month.
Each student has a student planner that provides a monthly view and a daily checklist. For the sake of my kids, I do not write the exact lessons or assignments in their planners more than a week ahead of time. I do this because I know my students well enough to be conscious of the anxiety this will cause them.
I only provide the subject we will cover until the week before. Providing high-level details allows us to stay flexible if they need time to complete something from the previous day, and it minimizes their feelings of being overwhelmed.
You know your students best. If they need details, then, by all means, provide as little or as much as you need.
The one thing I have learned in my four years of homeschooling is you need to leave space in your planner for the unexpected. You can plan to the best of your abilities, but you can’t account for the unexpected.
Stay flexible in your planning for illnesses, burn-out, impromptu field trips or activities, and just the inevitable interruptions called life.
Don’t try and cram your schedule so full that you wind up overwhelmed half-way through your school year. Fill out the essentials, jot down some ideas, so you don’t forget, but leave whitespace in your planner.
Homeschool Planning Made Easy
Homeschool planning every year can seem daunting and mind-boggling. But it doesn’t have to be if you have great tools, patience, and a vision for your homeschool year. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to plan your homeschool year.
What works for one family might not work for yours. I know I love to read how other homeschool moms plan their year to glean new ideas or inspiration.
But you must do what works best for you and your family. Keep adjusting your sails as needed, and I promise mama you will get to a place of contentment with your homeschool planning.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a step back. Don’t feel like you need to schedule an entire year. Start with a week, a month, two months, whatever you can handle. Homeschool planning is more complicated than actually “doing” homeschool. You got this, mama!
What strategies do you use when planning for your next homeschool year? I would love to hear how you tackle your homeschool planning below.