Homeschool Planning

One of the keys to starting our homeschool year well is my before school planning. For many years I winged it (not by choice, it was usually due to a new baby or a move, sometimes both) and I always felt unprepared, behind, and my kids missed out on a lot of cool activities because we didn’t have the materials to complete the projects.

For the past few years I have purposed to spend two to four days homeschool planning. My kids are now old enough to babysit themselves and my husband was also able to take all the kids out of the house on the final planning day so I could finish everything before school started.

It is important to begin planning with a plan. That sounds a bit ridiculous, but if you don’t know what you are doing I can assure you, very little will get accomplished during these planning hours. For the homeschooling moms I know, time is limited, so it is important to make the most of your planning sessions.

Here are the things I set out to accomplish during my planning time.

Familiarize Myself With All the Curriculum

There is no way I can read every page of every book for each child before the school year begins, but I do look through everything and make sure I understand how to use the books. Since we have been homeschooling for a while there are a few subjects that I am very familiar with like 1st grade math and the Explode the Code Books. But there are a few, such as Pre-Calculus and Latin, that I need to learn a little more about before we begin.

Make Copies for the Year

I find that making copies during the school year never works well for me. The kids and I will be sitting down at the table, ready to work on school and I realize that they need a page copied out of the back of the teacher’s book, or we need a duplicate of something. I get up to make copies and by the time I change ink in the printer, find paper, and make the copy, my kids have left the table and are busy doing something much more interesting than waiting for mom.

Two classes, Rosetta Stone Spanish and Personal Finance publish all the worksheets on CD’s, so having those printed, hole punched, and ready to go before the first day of school makes a big difference throughout the year.

Finalize Curriculum Choices

There is always one subject in limbo until right before school starts. This year it was Bible. I asked on Facebook and Twitter for suggestions and was overwhelmed by the great responses. I also talked with a few homeschooling friends locally and got their opinion on my high school Bible choices. I spent a few hours looking at books online and going through the ones we already owned. I didn’t make the final decision until about a week ago.

Begin the 2010-2011 Paperwork

I like to have all my paperwork ready before school begins each year. My planning time allows me to set up grade books, hours sheets, attendance forms, book lists, as well as forms for the county and our umbrella program. My favorite site for forms is DonnaYoung.org. I am so thankful I found that site years ago as it has saved me hours and hours of time. Donna Young is a free resource with many downloadable forms. It isn’t just a site for homeschoolers, you can find calendars, chore lists and more on this site.

Create Curriculum Supplements

I have a hard time going strictly by the book, so I usually end up adding to or changing our curriculum. This year I really wanted to do the The Original 21 Rules of This House with all my kids. I thought it would be a perfect way to begin the school year by making sure they all knew what my expectations where for their behavior. The problem with this book is that it is definitely geared toward younger children. I spent some time creating supplemental material for my older children so they could participate in this study without feeling like preschoolers.

Out With the Old in With the New

Since we reuse folders and notebooks, I make sure they are all empty and ready to go for the new school year. Papers are sorted and filed or thrown away, books are packed away for another child, and old crayons, pencils and markers are tossed. My kids usually help with this part of the planning.

Find and Print/ Bookmark Supplemental Curriculum from the Internet

There are so many awesome FREE homeschool resources on the internet. I like to have extra coloring sheets, cutting practice worksheets, and games printed and in the kid’s binders so they have something to work on if I need them to sit quietly for a few minutes. I also bookmark websites that I have approved for them to play on during school hours. For a list of great free websites visit Five J’s homeschool downloads page. This is my go to page when I am looking for good homeschool web content for my kids.

Relax and Remember that School is Fun

Depending on which state you live in and its homeschool requirements, homeschool planning can often feel like a chore. This year I felt like I spent almost as much time on paperwork as I did on the planning! (Not really, but it felt that way) As you look through the books remember, they are a guide not your master! If you wake up to a beautiful day, ditch the books and head out for a nature walk. Take advantage of the homeschool days in your area and go on lots of field trips.

Homeschooling is more than books and paperwork, it is a way of life. Live it.


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Comments

  1. Tracy says:

    This is my first year homeschooling, thanks for the great ideas.

  2. Southern Gal says:

    Thanks for the encouraging post. I lost my favorites in a computer crash in December and could not for the life of me remember the name of that site that had all the neat forms. Donna Young! Thanks for the link.

  3. DgsandBjsMom says:

    Our state does not require a lot of paperwork and the umbrella program you do not have to send in a lot of detailed notes. I have chosen to use a notebook where I write down what we did that day, how they did, if they were struggling or did better, etc.

  4. Ashley says:

    Last year, I overplanned – down to the minute w/ a preschool/kindergartener. This year I haven’t done any planning yet, other than highlighting some units I want to do with her. I should probably take some time to write up a plan of sorts, to keep myself motivated and accountable. Thanks for the post!

  5. Lori says:

    I, too, take time through the summer to plan for the next year. I have found another homeschooler in town who uses similar curriculum and we plan/shop for our projects together. This helps to keep me on track and ensures that the children will get with their friends every couple of weeks for project and play time.

    As the old saying goes:
    “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail”

    Happy Schooling!!

  6. MAYRA says:

    I start planning little by little at the end of March…more or less because, as other hs families, our budget is not that splendid and I have to buy some books here, some books there. It also helped me to look different options and give me time to investigate, ask, see samples, etc. It has also helped me to find books in http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php ?r_by=COLORTERRACOTA@GMAIL.COM where I found four of my books free. You can use this code to subscribe and it will give me points.
    This year I decided to do “homeschool baskets” where I put all their book in a small plastic baskets, or at least the ones they are going to use for that day. They take it to the living room and then I list them what to do. They are learning to follow my list and it keeps the house more organized. I also have a bigger “homeschool basket”

  7. Reesa says:

    This is my fifth year homeschooling. Up until now, I’ve had everything planned, copied, and sorted into binders before we start in August. This year the older kids are both in a hybrid, independent studies program. I don’t have an ounce of planning to do for them! I love the planning phase of homeschool so I was a little lost this summer.

    The toddler will start her 2-year-old preschool with me next week. I am making her a letter a week folder, we are doing Before Five in a Row, and the standard into to shapes, colors, and numbers while we play. I will have all of her resources ready to go by Monday though. I am really looking forward to spending some quality preschool time with her when her big brother and sister are in school 2 days a week.

  8. Esther says:

    This is some great points. A lot of them are true for teachers all over not just for homeschooling. I hope that you have a great school year and you have the time to get in all those great activities.

  9. Sherry says:

    Thank you for sharing your homeschool planning ideas. Definitely need them this year as we branched out from the all complete ready to go curriculum that had lesson plans, copies, etc. It is a lot of work, but so far it has been worth it. We are in our 2nd week. :D

  10. kelli says:

    Thank you so much for your insight. I have two little ones with another on the way and we are just beginning to homeschool and I know I can take all of the advice that I can get. I really think I might print this post and keep it to look at from time to time.

  11. pam says:

    first let me remind you of how much i love your comment section, all my info is already there.
    second i have the same issue with copies. if i have to stop to make a copy the morning is thrown off and surely the printer will not work or something else will happen

  12. Bek says:

    Do you have any suggestions for a 30 month old. I am a first-time mom and am excited about teaching him new things. He knows his colors and most of his shapes. We have started working on ABC’s and 123′s and this is what I want to mainly focus on this year. Any pointers or info would be greatly appreciated.

  13. These are great tips! Today and yesterday I am reading through a TON of new curriculum. I’m starting My Father’s World with my youngest and have NO idea how it works! Gotta get that done today! :)

  14. Mindy says:

    Funny – I LOVE the planning – it is the actual doing that is hard for me. Thanks for some great new resources to explore!

  15. Absolutely! Thanks for this reminder of planning for the new year.

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