Are you stressing because it feels like school is just around the corner and you don’t feel ready for your homeschool year?
Maybe you’ve already done some planning, but you’re feeling like there’s still so much to do. Or like many of us, you may have put off planning all together, thinking you’d get to it later and now you’re starting to feel anxious.
This time of year tends to be when homeschool parents start thinking about the next school year and begin feeling a little stressed out. That’s why I want to share some ideas for how you can finish your homeschool planning with less stress and pressure … and still enjoy your summer months!
TIPS FOR YEARLY HOMESCHOOL PLANNING
1. First and foremost, seek the Lord for help and guidance each time you work on planning
This is so important! God wants to help you in your school planning! As we get more and more experienced we can sometimes just jump right into planning and forget how important it is to seek the Lord’s guidance as we do.
2. Schedule in a few hours to work on planning each week ~ THIS IS KEY!
You’re more likely to get your planning done if you schedule in a time to work on it every week and don’t just let it happen whenever, because it will likely get put off! Write it in on your calendar! If you have a lot of children to plan for, you may need a couple time slots each week to plan.
One mom I know said her husband offered to give her one evening a week all summer long to work on her homeschool planning. What a great idea! Maybe your kids are old enough that you can sit outside and work on your planning while they play one morning a week.
Some might prefer to take a whole weekend away to work on homeschool planning – if that’s your preference, then make sure you schedule that weekend away soon! Early July is a great time for this.
3. Evaluate last year and set goals for this next school year
Take time to think about what you liked and didn’t like about this last school year as you begin planning for the next. What curriculum did you like enough that you want to use it again for the next level of learning? What routines in your daily life worked and which didn’t? Do you want to change up your yearly schedule?
Set some goals for this next school year for each child and for your homeschool year. Keep your state’s homeschool laws in mind, considering which subjects the state requires that you teach. You can find this information on your state’s homeschool group’s website or on hslda.org.
Here’s a free evaluation and goal setting form that you can use to help you think through these things and begin to set goals for each child. You may also want to consider your child’s learning style preferences when choosing curriculum, especially for the subjects they struggle in. Download my free informal learning style assessment to learn more about this.
4. Plan for one student at a time
When you have more than one child, it can feel a bit overwhelming to think through all the subjects you need to plan for each child. I recommend focusing on one child at a time, thinking specifically about the subjects you’ll need to teach them individually. Math and Language Arts are the two subjects that follow a specific scope and sequence, and therefore, often need to be taught to each child individually. (unless you have two children who are at the same skill level in one or both of these subjects) If your child is in high school, you may be buying individual curriculum for all or most of the subjects, as their learning tends to become more independent in those years.
5. Plan for subjects that you can teach all your children together
Bible, Social Studies, Science, Music, Art, Health and Physical Education can all be taught together as a family through the elementary and middle school years, and some of these can still be taught together in the high school years as well.
It’s fun to teach all the children these subjects by reading or sharing the information to them all together, and then giving them assignments that are appropriate for each child’s age and skill level. An older child could do a project or book report, while a younger child might help the older child with a project or do an easier project, such as coloring a picture or making a lapbook.
Look for curriculum that will help you teach your children all together if possible, especially in these subjects listed above.
6. Order curriculum
Once you’ve figured out what curriculum you want, place your orders! If you can get this done in July (at the latest), you’ll avoid the problem of items being out of stock. You can look for used curriculum if you want to save money or go on Facebook to some of the homeschool swap groups and see if you can find someone who has what you want and wants to sell it.
Here are a few good used curriculum sites:
7. Schedule time to review curriculum and learn how to use it ~setting aside the time is KEY!
Once your curriculum arrives, schedule in time each week to work on reviewing it. Pick one curriculum to focus on each week and you’ll feel less overwhelmed by the feeling you’re not getting enough done. Plan out your weeks, and which curriculum you’ll focus on, so you know you’ll get it all done in time.
8. Consider how your yearly, monthly, weekly and daily schedule will work best
You can be working on this as you review curriculum. Consider how many units, chapters or lessons there are in each subject, and plan how much needs to be done each week to get through the curriculum. A typical school year is 180 days or 36 weeks (unless you school year- round!), so you can determine how much your child will need to complete each week to finish in that much time.
Think through which subjects you’ll need to be working individually with a child on, and plan what time of day would work best for that, and what the other children will do while you’re teaching the one child.
I have some great templates for thinking through scheduling in The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner.
9. Remember to include Bible study and character growth as part of your learning each day
I recommend starting your school day each day with family Bible study or a character study. It really sets the tone for the day and helps everyone’s attitudes to be in the right place. Praying together each morning can help you find the peace you need to start your day as well.
Look for some good family Bible study materials or character studies to do over the year. Check out Growing the Fruit of the Spirit for your Bible study guide this next school year!
10. Look for ways to integrate your subjects so that assignments and projects will promote learning in more than one subject.
You can also save yourself a lot of time and energy if you incorporate projects and reading (both read aloud books and readers) that cover more than one subject as your child does them.
For example, you can read aloud a book on Egyptian mummies and pyramids for history and you’ll also be learning the science behind mummification and building pyramids. For language arts, your child can read, The Magic School House Research Book- Mummies and Pyramids by Mary Pope Osborn. They could write a book report on it or share what they learned with the rest of the family. Art could be building a pyramid together as a family with clay or Paper Mache. Here’s a fun free unit study on Egypt to help you plan (there are lots of free or inexpensive unit studies available online!) https://www.homeschoolshare.com/ancient_egypt.php
Curricula that use the unit study or Charlotte Mason approach typically integrate subjects like this. If you’re planning your own studies, download this free planning sheet to help you determine how you can integrate subjects as you study.
11. Look for ways to help your student become more independent in their learning if old enough
Once children can read well, they’re ready to do more independent work. Assignment sheets for each week help your child know what is expected and will help them learn to manage their time and be responsible. Check out The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner to find an assignment sheet template and learn how to do this.
12. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and pray for His help in your planning whenever you feel stressed!
You’re not doing this homeschool journey alone! God wants to help and guide you as you plan and prepare for this next school year. As a believer, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, guiding you and giving you wisdom. Rest in the Lord and know that you can do this with HIS help!