After managing a homeschool community for a year now, I have seen many homeschool questions. The one that seems to make it around with much concern is “how do you plan your homeschool day”? Here are a few tips I hope will help … work from a very large lens and continue to focus smaller.
- Decide your schedule. Will you homeschool 4 or 5 days? For K & 1st we homeschooled only 4 days (sat down and opened books), for 2nd and on we have schooled all 5 days.
- Decide your calendar. Will you homeschool thru the summer? During holidays – school 6 weeks with 2 week breaks? Your calendar should fit your family. It is miserably hot in central Florida in July & August – we gladly stay inside and jump into our new year earlier than some and take a “Fall Break”. Knowing how long you will school will help you plan how many lessons you need – or if you need to find supplements.
- Decide which subjects you will teach which days. Most curriculum offers a flexible schedule M/W/F or T/ Th plans. Organize which subjects will fall on which days. I am a stickler – Math, Reading, and Language Arts are scheduled all week with Science, History, and Spanish alternating. I printed out a cute planner so my son didn’t have to keep asking, “what are we doing today” or “what’s next”. Laminate it and add a dry erase marker — he could happily check off when that subject was completed.
- Find a document / planner that you enjoy using. I’m a pencil and paper gal – I like to hold our schedule. But there is something about a ton of blanks and boxes that scares me and I do not feel comfortable planning out an entire month. I fear commitment!! I prefer weekly calendars – you might prefer monthly or even 3 months! I like to keep things flexible because if my son is into a lesson and wants to do another page – I’m not going to make him stop. Once the weekly calendars are completed I transfer the information into a monthly calendar that is later printed for his portfolio and end of year evaluation. It sounds like more work – but I’d rather be comfortable than stressed!
- Decide on times. I’m not big on ringing a bell and starting class at a specific time each morning - but I like to plan out which hours of the day will be at the table so I can say “no” to other things that pop up during that time frame. (It also helps to plan the harder subjects during little one’s nap time) This past year I had to put a time limit on Math because my son was taking entirely too long. If he didn’t finish an assignment after 30 minutes – we moved onto the next subject and he could go back and finish his work later during his “play time”.
- Write everything in pencil. Do not print a calendar full of lessons unless you have a bottle of white out. I would print out months of scheduled work on calendars and after 2 days would have to trash it because we were usually a head of what I had planned.
- Don’t hate your planner. Planners are to help keep you on task and organized not to make you feel shackled. If a schedule is not working and you are not sticking to one – its time to find something else that works.
Two of my favorite sites for planners and scheduling resources are Donna Young and Homeschool Creations (both free)! If you are computer savvy create your own excel spreadsheet. Or if you want “someone else” to track your lessons use Homeschool Tracker (basic edition is free).
If you would like something with a bit more muscle I suggest purchasing Homeschool Creations Reusable Homeschool Planner. Not only have I been scheduling curriculum but field trips, chapter books, chores, and menu planning! You can pay a membership fee to join List Plan It – and access their Home Education Planner.
The main thing is to use what you are comfortable using! My first year homeschooling I mimicked a friend’s plans, lessons, curriculum, and homeschool classroom. She’s a wealth of homeschool knowledge, but I was miserable. It took me the whole year to realize God created me differently – and He chose my son to be in my home – with my weekly planner!