Check out any homeschool mom’s planner in August and you’re likely to find rows of neatly penned lessons.
In February? Not so much.
Planning consistently is a challenge and homeschool planning specifically has its own unique obstacles. While I have just “done the next thing” many times in my homeschool, I find that actually having – and sticking with – a plan helps keep me on track, remember to do the fun things, and overall lowers my anxiety.
It can be hard to know where to start. Around here, we like to start with the big picture and then zoom in.
Big picture planning.
This really only happens once a year, but that doesn’t mean that the plan never gets revised. Rather this is the first step where you decide what you want to study, what curriculum you want to use, and what goals you want to set for each of your children and even for yourself.
Next, we take a look at pacing- where do I want to be in the curriculum at what point in the year? This is probably one of the most important but most important parts of planning!
This is where I schedule breaks, note any days we won’t be able to do school or mark any holidays that are coming up. I also like to With all that in mind, I take a look at how much I can realistically expect to accomplish in a set period of time.
Taking a look at the pacing ahead of time saves me the panic of suddenly realizing that we are almost done with the school year but only halfway done with the math book. (Yikes!)
Often when people say planning, they mean scheduling. This is where the plan + pacing come together and you write down what you want to accomplish during the week. I like to write down everything I’d like to get done on the Weekly Prep pages. I then fill in the schedule pages with broad strokes. For example, I might just write “Math Lesson” and then go back and fill in the lesson number as we do it. That way I have a place marker- we are doing a math lesson in that spot- but I don’t have to cross it off if I happen to miss a lesson or do two in one day.
This is another important step that often gets skipped. I like to print off a few notes pages at the end of every week to record reflections and thoughts. Is math taking longer than you anticipated? Is there a topic your child is struggling with or showing a strong affinity for? This is where you record those observations so that you can make use of them when you plan the next week.
The reason this step so often gets skipped is because it takes time and can feel less productive than scheduling all the things. But if we take time to notice what is working and what isn’t, we’re better equipped to handle those challenges and help our children thrive.
I like to do this immediately, while my children are doing their independent work. That way I’m still in “school mode” and everything is still fresh in my mind.
Rinse and repeat!
Armed with my master plan and my reflections from the following week, I am now ready to schedule my new homeschool week!
Having a clear idea of where I’m going helps me be consistent in my homeschool planning because I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I sit down to plan.
Here are a few more tips to help homeschool planning become a habit:
- Pick a designated time each week to fill in your planner for the following week. I like to do this on Fridays after we finish school- the work we’ve done is still fresh in my mind, and now I’m free to enjoy the weekend.
- Use shorthand. I use abbreviations for everything – as long as you understand it, it’s good to go. No one is peeking into your planner! This will save you time and help you get into a planning rhythm.
- Schedule time to plan and reflect – and write it down in your planner! While I usually do my weekly reflection and planning on Friday when the week is fresh in my mind, I also schedule time at the end of every month to prepare for the month ahead and check in with my pacing to see if I need to make any changes.
Although it can seem intimidating at first, taking the time to check your pacing and reflect on your progress can really go a long way towards thriving in your homeschool!
We go a little more in depth on all of this – especially laying the foundation and big picture planning – in our Homeschool Planning Workshop. You can access that for FREE right here⬇️!
Stephanie is a writer, creator, and social butterfly. She is also a wife to a pretty cool husband and homeschool mom of three spunky girls. She loves to learn and talk about ALL THE THINGS, especially homeschooling, theology, and reading. You can often find her in our Anchored Women Mighty Networks community, asking life changing questions (coffee or tea?) or hosting our monthly book club discussions.