Homeschool 101 – Planning

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Homeschool planning is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do! Sadly, though, I seldom stick to the plan. After 10 years of homeschooling, I think that I have finally found a homeschool planning groove that works for me. It includes not only homeschool planning details, but helps me keep my whole life organized so that I don’t forget to do the things that are important to me. Let me share with you some of the resources I’ve used to find that groove, and some of the things I’ve tried in the past. I hope that something I can share might help you find your own planning groove!

5 Days of Homeschool 101

Homeschool Planning is Personal

Before you read any further, I need to be sure that you understand this one concept. Homeschool planning – or any planning, for that matter – is very personal. What works for me may not work for you, and vice-versa. You have to find your own groove and what really works for you. So take everything I say here as a suggestion, and feel your way around until you figure out what it is you need. Close to the end, I’ll have some suggestions on how to do just that!

Let’s pretend for a moment that the only thing you need to plan is your homeschool. If you are just starting your homeschooling journey, this will look a little differently for you. You’ll need to determine a few things like what time of year your school year will begin and end, what time of day you’ll likely do most of your schooling, your curriculum choices along with all of those considerations, and more.

One of the best resources I have ever found to help you determine what all you need to determine is Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate. In this book, she outlines how to go about planning, and one of the things she suggests is a yearly planning retreat to take place between Christmas and New Year’s each year. This past year, I did something similar to what she suggests, and I must say that it has kept me on task thus far! She suggests quarterly reviews, weekly planning quick sessions, and even daily checkups. Baby steps, y’all!! But seriously – you need to read this book! I’ve read tons and this has been the most helpful by far. Read my review.

Planner

Digital or Paper?

The next thing you’ll need is a planner. I’ve reviewed several digital planners – here and here are two, oh and here’s a third – but really, the best method for me is paper. The reason for that is simply that it’s quicker to mark down things and easier to change up what’s already down than any digital planner could possibly do. The method I’ve found best for me personally is to write down what we do after we do it, rather than trying to plan things out ahead of time. I’m a little too OCD to spend all that time planning and not accomplish it exactly as written, and I’m way too relaxed on a schedule to actually get things done the way they’re written. Planning ahead of time just ends up causing me undue stress!

The best planner I’ve found for my methods is still The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell. I reviewed this not terribly long ago, but let me say that it’s still working for me. I’ve tweaked it once again, so let me tell you how I’m using it now once you’ve read that post.

Did you read it? Good.

These days, I’m utilizing a method that kind of combines those I described. My students are on the left side, the days of the week are along the top. The first column lists my subjects. I have 5 students but my twins do the same things, so I have my three big kids on a row each, one for my twins, one for ME, and one for miscellaneous activities we might do as a family.

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For the MOM section on this page, I keep track of my 5 “B” priorities – Bible time, my Business needs, Body activities like water consumption and exercise, Books I’m reading, and Blogging activities that I actually end up accomplishing. The MISC section holds time for art, music, and PE because we tend to do all of those things as a family and I’d rather just write it once rather than 4 or 5 times on the subject list. It also holds our service time and other activities (maybe we had a play date or went into the city that day, field trips etc), as well as I started putting our foreign language study there simply because it’s also something that is done together.

There are Bible study pages, but to be honest I don’t use them that way. I use sticky notes to cover the left column headings and change them to the days of the week. Then I use the large right column to keep track of appointments and anything else that is specific to that day, including my review due dates. I also keep track of time for how long we spend homeschooling (we have trouble spending enough time if I don’t), how much time I spend on my business, and other things that I want to make sure that I’m remembering to do, making a priority, and just being mindful of how I’m spending my time. I use the quartered circle method taught in some of the other variations of this same planner.

I use the right hand page to keep a list of things I need to do each day such as phone calls or a grocery needs list, a prayer request sheet, things coming up soon that I need to remember to work on such as our local co-op fairs and 4H type activities, and the bottom section I use to keep track of what goes on during our weekends. I also divide out the very bottom to keep track of my “5 B priorities” over the weekend.

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Planning is one thing I’m picky about but I’ve finally found my groove and am excited to share it with you! One day soon I might put out my own planner. Besides the above entries, it would also include a blog planning section, Direct Sales planner, a menu planning section, a health tracker, and my chores and household planning methods.

Do you know what helped me finally find my groove? Using a spiral-bound notebook and just writing down all the things I thought I needed to keep track of each day – that’s what! I found that I was using the same places to keep track of the same things. I found that some things I’d write down and never look at again, or if I discovered areas I was forgetting to accomplish I’d make a new space for it. It’s inspired me even in my spiritual walk and my prayer/intercession journey. If you’d be interested in hearing more about any of these areas, please leave me a comment!

Don’t forget to visit the other Crew members participating in this week’s blog hop! Planning is one arena where you can never have too much input.


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