How to Plan Your Homeschool Year in 3 Steps

Kathryn is holding a cup a tea in front of a display with a planner, plant, and a lit candle.
Kathryn is holding a cup a tea in front of a display with a planner, plant, and a lit candle.

Whether you are thinking about homeschooling, new to homeschooling, or not-so-new like myself, planning your year can seem like a daunting task.  

Add to an absolute plethora of classes, resources, and advice–and it’s very tempting to become overwhelmed.  

Ask me how I know.

When we started homeschooling over 5 (!!!) years ago, I fell deep into a sea of curriculum catalogs and pretty homeschool planners. I planned out our days to the letter.  By day 3, I was ready to scrap the plans and sink into a heap of frustration and defeat.

Over the past several years, I have learned firsthand the difference between a rigid, stress-filled homeschool, and one that feels aligned and peace-filled.

In this video, I share all the things I wish I had learned, the things that would have saved us 3 years of boring, drab, dry-toast homeschooling.

Watch the video below, or feel free to read the post.

 

STEP 1:  REFLECT.

I set aside some time to pray and commit our homeschool to the Lord.  I take all of my dreams and hopes and desires, my fears and frustrations and concerns to the Lord, and trust that He will share His desires with me, and that He’s leading me.  Prayer truly helps me to get centered before I plan for our homeschool.

Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

I believe that getting centered before the year will lead you into an aligned, peaceful year rather than a stressful and overwhelming year.  Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.  It is very easy to get caught up and swept away by the expectations, resources, and experiences of others.  The reason you are thinking about homeschooling (or already doing it) is because you believe that your child has an individual purpose.  You want to cultivate that purpose, to nurture and protect your child’s gifts and abilities.  Your child is not meant to be stuffed into a box.  Yet, we can often find ourselves frantic because we’re uncomfortable with the unknown, and we don’t want to fail.  So, we stuff our homeschool into a box. The box seems to guarantee results.  You don’t have to put yourself, your family, and your homeschool into a box. 

Let this be the year that you let go and trust.

Another way I like to center myself is to read the book Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie.  This book is chock-full of encouragement, truth, and practical tips for your homeschool.

I also spend some time reflecting on the previous year. Every year is different and may have a unique focus. This helps me to get a sense of what needs to shift for this year. For instance, we moved to a new location shortly after the pandemic began. So, we are slowly moving from isolation to interacting more socially. That is going to be a factor when planning this homeschool year.

Here are some guiding questions to help you gain clarity in your planning.  Feel free to journal your answers, or simply take a moment to ponder.

Questions to ask:

  • What does success in our homeschool look like?
  • What is God’s idea of success, and how does my view of success compare to His?
  • What went well last year?
  • What would I like to change for this year?
  • What do we need more of? What could we do with less of?

STEP 2: DREAM.

This is where you get to focus on your vision for your homeschool, your family values, and your unique family culture.

Take note of what your children are interested in–they will tell you if you pay close attention. Take note of what YOU are interested in, and how you can share that with your kids.

Consider kicking off the year with a celebration–a special meal, or a group picture are just a couple of ideas. Your celebration can be as simple or fantastic as you and your kids want it to be.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the big picture for our homeschool?
  • How do I want to feel about our homeschool? How do I hope my kids feel about their education?
  • What do we want our children to know?
  • What do our children want to learn?
  • What does our family need most in this season?

STEP 3: PLAN.

The first thing you will need is a place to keep records or plans. It could be digital or paper-based. I use Microsoft OneNote and my paper planner.

If you are using an all-in-one or boxed curriculum, planning is very simple.  You can use the scope and sequence to plan out your days.

I tend to put together my own curriculum.  I use a list of skills by grade level to help us decide what to focus on.  One of my favorite resources to help me build a curriculum is a book called Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp.

Other things I include in my planning:

  • a list of my children’s interests to help choose activities
  • a running list of field trip ideas

You can plan out your entire year at once, plan in chunks, plan as you go, or try reverse record keeping.

I no longer make detailed daily homeschool plans. I keep a list of skills to target, have an idea of how we’re going to approach them (what resources we’re going to use), and keep records of what we do day by day. I take pictures of projects my kids create, and I write detailed descriptions of what we do to submit for the portfolio review.

Resources:

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