It’s that time of year when homeschool moms can be found buried under papers, notes, calendars, and textbooks as the school year planning ensues. I’ve known a few moms to get an absolute thrill as they prepare to plan their year, but it’s something I tend to dread. If you feel the same way, then know you’re not alone! Planning takes so much thought, effort, and time, and honestly, I tend to come away with a headache!
However, in the past years, I have begun to realize the importance of putting together a good plan for an upcoming year, regardless of how exhausted I am from finishing up a year. Additionally, I think I’m beginning to appreciate the merits of a simple plan. Your homeschool year doesn’t need to be complicated to work, and you will thank yourself at the end of the year! On that note, how do we plan a homeschool year while keeping it straightforward?
3 Ways to Keep Your Homeschool Schedule Practical
Even with homeschooling, I tend to be a minimalist. For me personally, minimalism extends beyond the number of things I keep and touches also on how I approach organization, schedules, and social interaction. I suppose minimalism guides my personality! In my life, this tendency to appreciate more simplistic approaches also creates a need for nearly everything to have a practical reason.
With regard to a homeschool plan, if I’m to entertain adding a homeschool course, what practical purpose does it serve? If I’m going to occupy a segment of my weekly time or my mental space on a course or activity, how is it serving us in the long run? I’ve learned to ask myself those questions when planning our homeschool year. I love practicality and simplicity and they save my sanity in the end. Here are three ways to keep your homeschool year from becoming too complicated.
- Create a Schedule for Routines. I love routines. Honestly, I start feeling a bit stressed, unorganized, and exhausted if I don’t have my routine. They are great for getting everything done, knowing what to expect, and still having free time available. For your homeschool schedule, you can keep things a little less overwhelming by scheduling via routines rather than time blocks. The issue with hour or thirty-minute blocks is that if anything unexpected surfaces, the whole schedule can be thrown. Instead, schedule routine blocks.
For example, you could create a morning block for “Before School” and fill in that block with the list of morning chores or tasks you’d like to check off. Throughout the day, instead of time blocks, you can use a general block for “schoolwork” and list what you’d like to work on each day, or you can use individual blocks for subjects — such as “Grammar,” “Math,” and “History.” These blocks could differ per day as well if that’s what would work best for your lifestyle. With a schedule for routines, your kids will know what to expect each day and you can take extra time on any subject should you feel so inclined.
- Consider Alternating Daily Subjects. Real talk, you guys — it is just too difficult to cover every subject in a day. If you’ve had a better experience with this than I have, then I applaud you. But I have to say, covering each subject is just an unrealistic expectation for me. Not only does it not allow for any extra time spent on an interesting topic, but it becomes more difficult when activities pop up. On that note, it’s ridiculously hard to plan each daily lesson while taking into account possible activities or unplanned interruptions. We started alternating our subjects through the week and it made the biggest difference! If you plan just a few subjects a day, it opens up plenty of discussion time and possibly even allows for an early end to the homeschool day.
- Make Your Curriculum Work for You. I know it’s something a lot of us struggle with, but we don’t have to finish the books, we don’t have to read every chapter, and we don’t need to cover each page. Your curriculum is a tool, a guideline, but not the rule. Don’t stress yourself over-scheduling every single chapter and lesson. Instead, try scheduling in blocks to cover that subject each week. Let it work for you, but don’t bend over backward to make it work.
Tools for Homeschool Planning
Even with the best ideas for keeping a homeschool schedule on the simple side, at the end of the day, we still have to sit down and do it. Though certain moms prefer physical planners while others prefer digital calendars, what matters is helpful hacks to get it all planned and organized! Of course, around here we’re loving the Sanity Saver Homeschool Planner, which you can get a free sample of here! Here are my three favorite tools for planning our homeschool year.
- Homeschool Tracker. This online tool keeps everything for planning, grades, and record-keeping all in one place! While it’s not free, it certainly could be a consideration for the busy homeschooling mom.
- Trello. If you are already familiar with Evernote (which is also a fantastic tool for homeschool planning), then you’ll be pleased as punch to learn about Trello. With Trello, homeschooling parents can manage a number of boards with categorized cards for assignments, notes, checklists, and more. Users can even add due dates, reminders, and repeating cards for keeping track of everything. Trello offers free or paid plans.