In a moment when I probably hadn’t gotten enough sleep or hadn’t had enough coffee I decided it would be fun to figure out what a possible yearly plan for our homeschooling schedule would look like if we homeschooled all our kids, all the way through high school. I discovered I’d be homeschooling until 2035!! While this was an interesting exercise it’s not extremely helpful to spend too much time on the 30,000 foot view of our plans. If we have learned anything from this year, it’s that we don’t have control over the future, and we certainly can’t imagine the details of our future! For now, we plan to homeschool one year at a time. Every spring my husband and I discuss what our plans for the following year will be–so far it works best for our family to homeschool. When it comes to planning for my homeschool year here are things I try to keep in mind. (Here’s my disclaimer…this is just one way of planning, and it may not work for you. But you might glean a few helpful ideas to try in your homeschool plan!).
1. During the summer I think about what worked well and what needs to be adjusted. A big change for our family this fall will be adding our third child into our schooling mix. She will be doing Kindergarten work and while it’s not a huge change, it does require me to think about where in the daily schedule I will fit her instruction and what I want my other kids to be doing at this time.
2. I take a look at the whole school year and decide when I want to be finished in the spring and then work backwards from that point to figure out when we want to take breaks and when we want to start. I have found that making an ideal schedule is helpful, even though there are things that will happen that will change my ideal schedule. Life happens–the kids or I get sick, friends or family visit when I wasn’t expecting it, a field trip opportunity comes up that I hadn’t planned in advance–so I always make the big picture schedule in pencil! I have found that rather than feeling restrictive, a schedule is freeing, because it helps to define the daily decisions we make. We are free to change our schedule but it’s helpful to know the cost/benefit of that change. Before I began making a yearly plan, there was always the unknown question that loomed “when will we be on summer break?” The answer was always “well cometime around…” If you are a type A planner the idea of making a yearly schedule sounds like second nature probably. But if you tend towards more of a fly by the seat of your pants approach, you might be surprised to find you and your kids may like to know more definite time frames!
3. I also like to plan out what subjects we want to study daily, a few times a week, or once a week. Curriculums have varied schedules and I tend to front load our semesters (my husband works at a university that operates in semesters so that’s how I plan my year as well) and see how I can make the end of the semester lighter. For example my oldest was able to complete his math curriculum 3 weeks before we officially ended school. We tend to get a little weary as the semester draws to a close so it works well for us to work hard early on and be rewarded with a lighter load near the end.
4. Who knows what this year will look like but in regular years I try to plan frequent field trips. Sometimes they compliment what we are currently studying but it’s not one of my requirements! We are blessed to live in a large city with many free museum days and we like to take advantage of those!
5. I also make sure I include in our schedule when we are going to have time for chores, music lessons, physical activity, free time etc. I actually put free time on my official calendar but I do want to be mindful of what we fill our time with and since I want my children to be well rounded individuals I want them to have time to play, pursue hobbies or just day dream!
6. These days, there are many tools at our disposal for planning and I suggest picking whatever works best for you and your family! I use spreadsheets for planning what curriculum I’m planning on using for each child–it’s easy to mark what I have, what I need to borrow (from friends or the library) and what I need to purchase. I use a paper calendar for my overall plan for the year and fill that in with the details of what subjects on what day and then as each child completes work I’ll make a note of it on that day in the calendar.
As you think about the upcoming school year and how to plan it out I hope you are encouraged to figure out what works for your particular family. I hope you and your family have an incredible school year!