Making Yearly Homeschool Planning A Pleasure
Here I was again – looking longingly at those pre-planned (expensive) curriculums. The ones where I thought they could do all the yearly homeschool planning and all I would have to do is buy it.
I was tired of my plan (or lack thereof) not working. I thought if I could just have something already thought out (by someone who actually knew what they were doing) it would take away the stress of me deciding what we were meant to do.
It would also stop my kids complaining because someone else (who had some teaching training) had set the schedule and they could argue with that instead of me.
However, after spending a few days with my mind made up I started to weaken. I realised I still needed to tweak the plans, make it suit our family, pop in some Australian resources and modify it to suit my child. I began to see that the temptation to buy a full pre done curriculum wasn’t going to give me the mental relief I was looking for.
So I began to make my own yearly homeschool plan; one that was going to suit my family but this time I was determined to do things differently.
Dos and Don’ts for Homeschool Planning
For some of you, your homeschool planning is already done. You know what you’re doing and it’s all written down. However for most of us we are still in the stage of knowing next year is coming and mentally mulling through our options while we do our best to finish this year off well.
I must admit these days I do like planning for the coming year. It’s a time of assessing what did and didn’t work in the previous year and deciding what is changing and what is staying the same. But it wasn’t always like that. Over the years I’ve learnt a few dos and don’ts for homeschool planning and I’d like to share some of them with you.
Avoid Chaos In Your Yearly Homeschool Planning
- Don’t try to do too much in your academic year. With so many good options it is tempting to try to squeeze too much into your curriculum. That usually leads to burnout. Be realistic with what you can actually achieve. Look at what you were able to accomplish in the last school year. Ask yourself, “How will next year be different/the same?”
- Don’t attempt curriculum before your children are ready. I’ve made this mistake many times when my kids were little. I bought a history and science curriculum that was really highschool level for my kids to use in primary. Consequently the content was mostly inappropriate for my children and I wasted my money.
- Don’t buy too much. My weakness is books. I have many that I bought to read to my children that are still sitting on the bookshelf. Over the past two years I’ve been going to my bookshelf FIRST for my read-alouds instead of the bookshops.
- Don’t be tempted to throw out something that works just because something else is newer or prettier. No curriculum is a perfect fit and you will always find that certain aspects don’t work. However, chopping and changing all the time can slow down progress in a subject. With one child I wasted a year changing math programs three times whilst looking for a good fit. In the end I went back to my original resource realising that the reason she was struggling was more about her and not the curriculum.
- Don’t ignore the failures that happened this year. If you are finding aspects of your homeschool aren’t working such as: routine, time allocation, a particular curriculum, or your homeschool set up –examine them closely and see what improvements you can make. Remember the famous quote, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Bring Rest To Your Yearly Homeschool Planning
- Get wisdom. Get inspired. I enjoy using the planning time as a time of reflection. I ask God for wisdom in choosing curriculum. I pray for direction and seek wise counsel from other seasoned homeschoolers I admire. I usually read through a teaching book looking for new ideas to incorporate into my teaching schedule. This energises me for the coming year.
- Tie off the year’s end. Get your records sorted for the end of the year so you can begin afresh for the next. We have been using portfolios for years. They work well for us. After I’ve put their portfolios together I then have a big chuck-out and sell off my used/completed curriculum.
- Plan ahead. Have some method for recording your plans for the coming year. Write it down. Make your own planner and fill it with some planning sheets.
- Make it interesting for yourself. One way I keep myself enthusiastic is to choose curriculum that interests me as well as the kids. If a subject you are teaching makes you groan with dread—how are you expecting your children to respond? Remember to keep your curriculum rich. Put art, sport, music and excursions into your plans.
- Combine subjects when possible. Language arts and history go together beautifully.
- Have group time when you do reading aloud, picture study, history and nature study together.
- Give yourself a decent rest before the next year’s homeschool lessons start. Enjoy your time off and read some inspiring books. Try not to start the new school year feeling like you need another holiday.