Planning an entire homeschool year can be intimidating. It’s a time I feel the full weight of the responsibility I have taken in educating my kids at home. We are starting our 5th year of homeschooling soon, and it took me a few years to find a planning routine that works for me. I have settled on a custom excel spreadsheet for my planning, which I’m sharing in my VIP Library.
Look at the Big Picture
I start planning for next year before we finish the previous term. As we wind down the term I am thinking about what they each need to work on next. Sometimes what they need is the next grade level material, but sometimes it’s not. I also look at what we want to study as a family during morning time. Right now we are loving Sonlight which has a clear sequence for our morning time. I have found that our family likes to read more during morning time than the provided lesson plans suggest. So we follow the reading plan at our own pace. While we don’t follow them exactly I really like the comfort and outline they provide for my planning.
Curriculum and Lesson plans are wonderful but I have found my kids learn best when we let ourselves deviate from the plan. Sometimes that’s pulling the math blocks out at lunch to compare numbers or adding a book to morning time to answer a question from breakfast about the changing weather.
Planning the details
I have tried different kinds of planners to keep our school day organized and give us a list to check off. I have found that using an Excel spreadsheet is the easiest way for me to plan. I can customize it to our needs and keep each person’s work all on one page. It’s also easy to change as we adjust future assignments based on what gets done this week.
My planner is divided into our Morning Time (together subjects) and independent work. Since I have 3 students, that means there are 4 sections on the page. While I assign work to each day of our morning time, we often rearrange it, and I’m happy as long as its all crossed off at the end of the week. It gives us some space to be flexible and also stay on track.
Last year I discovered planning in 4-6 week terms. Instead of planning each week on Sunday night for the week ahead, I plan 4-6 weeks out at a time. Sunday nights I still make small adjustments as needed. I feel like it gives me some momentum and a manageable amount of school to focus on at a time. I created my own science plans last year and planned a different science unit for each term. I plan a lazy week between terms where I use the time to plan the next term and we keep doing the things that can’t take a break, like co-op or a reading book. I find I’m ready to change up the routine after about 4 weeks anyways so its a WIN!
Plan for Fun
I make detailed plans for our school because I’m a planner: if it’s not on on the schedule, it doesn’t get done. So I make sure I plan some fun. One way I do this is by having a different routine on Friday. I make sure this day is lighter in book work so we can plan fun trips to nature parks, museums, or just playdates with friends. Friday is our catch-up day for the week, if we have an outing early in the week we do the work we “missed” on Friday. We did an Art Activity book last year once a week which was a lot of fun, low stress and no prep for mom. I turned out to be a weekly highlight for all of us. This year I will be including a Museum Activity book to our Friday schedule.
Make it work for you
Hopefully hearing these planning method helps you discover a method that works for you. It took me a few years to figure out how i wanted to stay organized. I’m curious what works for you. Are you a paper and pencil or digital planner? Do you wing it or assign every worksheet and page number? What little tricks have you discovered to help your plan?