Desire Led Lesson Planning for Worldschoolers

July 29, 2020
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Guest Author

When school starts back in the fall this year, I will have a 10th grader, or at least that would be his grade if he were in a public high school. Since he’s an out-of-the-box learner and we’re an out-of-the-box worldschooling family, though, homeschooling (and lesson planning) can be a bit tricky.

If your kiddo is out-of-the-box in any way, I bet you can relate. Do you feel the pressure to start planning a new homeschool year before the one you’re in has finished? Me too, and it can feel downright overwhelming. Thankfully, after 11 years of homeschooling, I’ve learned a thing or two.

Here’s how I beat the overwhelm and tackle lesson planning for my homeschooling/worldschooling high schooler:


#1 – Write it all down.

Sometimes the urge to plan for next year starts as early as March or April for me, and I start feeling pressured to make next year better than this one, to fill all the gaps and make up for all of the things we didn’t get to yet. When this happens, I start making lists and notes. As soon as a new idea comes to me, I open my homeschool planner to a blank, noncommittal page in the July or August section and make a list of ideas and possible courses and materials we may want to consider using next year. It’s just a brain dump, so I’m allowed to put anything there. This helps more than I can say.


#2 – Embrace summer.

It would be so easy to waste a whole summer worrying about what exactly homeschooling will look like next year, but I’d much rather watch my kids jump into the ocean and hop in with them to play on our paddleboards than sit at home writing beautiful lesson plans we won’t use until September. So, during June and July, I take the pressure off of myself and embrace the beauty that is summer by getting outside and diving into all kinds of fun activities with my kiddos. This does wonders for our family togetherness, and I find the break helps my brain think more clearly when the time comes too.


#3 – Look for clues about what he loves.

Educating my out-of-the-box kid means that our homeschool needs to include a lot of what naturally interests him, so I look for clues about what he’s curious about all year long. This practice ramps up in the summer, though, and I make notes about which documentaries he chooses, which books he points out, what he’s picking up at the library, and what he’s researching online to make lesson planning easier. I find that asking him questions like, “Which of these things would you like to study this year?” works way better than “Can you tell me what you’re interested in and which classes you’d like to take?” and it helps to have a list of things that interest him before we begin talking. If you’ve heard of becoming a student of your student, you already know this trick. It truly works wonders.


#4 – Read (and listen to) good books.

Like it or not, we know that the pressure rises as our kids move through middle school and enter high school. The stakes are higher, and every expert tells us their chances at college and a rewarding career is on the line. When I start stressing about this, I find that reading and listening to good books helps me so much. This summer, I’m listening to College Without High School by Blake Boles with my teenager, and we’re making dream maps together. A little later, we’ll read How to Be a High School Superstar by Cal Newport too, and I always listen to Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest and The Read-Aloud Family before I start detailed planning and book ordering each fall. I might even throw in some John Holt too.


#5 – Keep the main things the main things.

There are literally so many outstanding resources for homeschoolers these days, and I find it extremely easy to get distracted and paralyzed by all of the choices, requirements, and advice available. Overall, I have to remind myself to keep the main things the main things, and for us, they are:

  • Building on his strengths
  • Filling his learning gaps
  • Supporting his emotional needs
  • Exploring his passions

Life-long learning is our goal – not high test scores, competing with other kids his age, or genius ability, and knowing that makes our lesson planning so much easier.

Want more details about what worldschooling and summer learning looks like as an out-of-the-box high schooling family? Check out this landing page for all things homeschool and travelschool related. 

Other Articles by Celeste Orr

Desire Led Summer Learning

Homeschool Art Projects for Teens and Tweens

What Does Quarantine Mean for Travel-Schooling Families?

Travel Schooling Part 2: How to Afford It!

What is Travel Schooling & How Do We Start? Part 1


More about the author… Celeste Orr

Celeste Orr Contributor

Celeste Orr is a writer, reader, nonprofit guru, sociology nerd, hiker, sailor, full-time traveling Georgia-born mama to two boys. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and loves all things family travel and adventure related. She is also passionate about helping families choose togetherness and outdoor adventure, even if it means bucking the system and going their own way sometimes. She shares tips and articles to help families in the areas of travel, relationships, and choosing their own path at