How I love to plan! I could spend daaaaaaayyyyyyyssss planning, anything. I plan menus, and cleaning schedules and consequences and “things to accomplish before screens” and trips and, well, you get the idea. But today I’m going to focus on school planning. Our family has homeschooled since 1989 so there have been many, many school plans.
So what types of plans are there?
weekly, monthly, yearly-
Although I love to plan, once it’s done, I don’t want to think about it again. A basic framework that can be tweaked if necessary works for me. Some moms sit with a planner once a month or once a week to plan out schoolwork.
group or individual-
Will you be doing unit studies and as many things together as possible? Then your plan will reflect that. If on the other hand you have babies or toddlers, it sometimes works better to stagger your subjects so older children can play/read/nap with the littles. Or maybe your children are too far apart in grade levels to work together. Your plan will most likely be more individualized for each student.
rigid or flexible-
We’ve had both extremes. One year we tried a system that scheduled every 30 minutes! My youngest son loved it, the rest of us not so much. This type of schedule teaches you whether you are the slave or the schedule is the slave. I failed. One year we tried mostly unschooling with a bare bones schedule. I guess I’m too neurotic, because it drove me crazy with the lack of structure. We settled near the middle, where there is a framework, but it’s tied to completion and not the clock.
mom or child led-
As my children got older, I tried to incorporate things they enjoyed into our school year. Sometimes this is more difficult if you have several children. For their senior year most of mine had a year long project from an interest I’d seen over the years. One did a scrapbook on Korea, one built a guitar from scratch (disclaimer- it’s not finished) and one was given the choice to do anything with an instrument of her choice- make a CD, scrapbook or anything she chose.
younger or older student-
Obviously your plan will look different depending on the age/ages of your child/children. Hubby and my prediction was that our children would become self taught over time. And you know what? That’s what happened. By the time our children were in high school I began moving them towards a schedule that I could hand over to them. In other words, when they finished the work they were done for the year. I remember two years in particular, one when schoolwork was still being done in June, and one when that student was done in April. You could not do this with most younger students, so remember plans will look different as your children grow.
Is this your first year to homeschool? Have you been homeschooling many years, but haven’t found your grove yet? Know that most families try many options before they settle on what works for their family. And over time even that changes, as family dynamics change. For instance, at one point I had a senior, a 7th grader and a 6th grader and a 4th grader. Now I have 2 Freshman. Trust me our schedule was/is different in those two scenarios. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. A plan will evolve for your particular family. Some families have Dads that work nights, some that travel or two parents at home. Please don’t look to duplicate someone else’s plan. Make your plan work with your family.
If you are new to homeschooling, be sure and check out the requirements of your state. But, don’t be intimidated. We lived in a state for 14 years that “required” things of homeschoolers on the yearly paperwork, that weren’t required by law. I’d highly encourage you the look into HSLDA. They are on the cutting edge of homeschool legal issues. Once you understand the requirements of your state, again, give yourself some latitude. Lot’s of things your do in your day could count for any number of school “subjects”.
Do you have a big trip planned this year? A new baby joining your family? A move across country? An elderly family member that needs help? Be sure and plan this in as your create your homeschool schedule. Really, you can learn from almost any situation. Work these situations into your curriculum. This is hands on learning at it’s finest. You don’t have to create field trips, you just incorporate what you are already doing into your plan!
The Nitty Gritty
When its time to get down to the nuts and bolts, seclude yourself away with the books you will be using in the coming year. Not really…… You can plan in the noisiest place in the house! I just enjoy seclusion when I plan. However you plan best, it’s very helpful to have the books on hand to be able to look through how they are laid out and how long they will take to complete. This helps you to be able to plan ahead for purchases that don’t have to be made at the beginning of the year. Funds are always tight here, so I buy as we go along.
the key is prayer-
seatwork vs character-
So many times I’ve seen, and been tempted myself to duplicate public education at home. This is one of the greatest freedoms of homeschooling. You do not have to follow a state mandated scope and sequence. There have been times in our homeschool journey where character issues pop up and schooling takes a backseat. Hear me now, I’m not saying seatwork is not necessary. I’m saying all of life is learning and I’d rather have a child with exceptional character than have a scholar. Learning is lifelong, so don’t sweat the possibility of gaps. Plan with your children in mind and the character issues they (and you!) need to work on.
organize, organize, organize-
This might sound funny, but organization is crucial to planning. Look at all areas of your family’s daily and weekly life. When meals are planned your schooling flows better. When chores are planned, same thing. When curriculum and related supplies are organized, stress is lowered. Ask me how many times I’ve hunted for scissors in my house.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Make a plan for your homeschooling year, but don’t stress so much that you forget “why” you choose to homeschool in the first place! How do you plan your homeschool year?