Welcome to week two of my series, The Organized Homeschool. The goal of this series is to encourage homeschool moms to prepare for the upcoming school year by completing a few organizational tasks over the summer. Last week I showed you how I created a DIY Homeschool Planning Binder. This week, I’m sharing how I go about planning the content for the upcoming school year.
As you read, keep one thing in mind. I am not an expert and do not claim to be. I’m simply sharing what has worked for me in hopes that a fellow homeschool mom will be encouraged. If you have a different system that works, that’s great. In fact, if you have a great plan, please let me know about it by leaving a comment. I love to learn new things!
When I first began homeschooling five years ago, I planned my lessons for the entire year. (Yep, I hear some of the seasoned homeschool moms snickering. Go ahead.) It took me a week to do this, but at the time this method of planning seemed like a good idea. I was certain I had saved time and prevented stress. However, within the first few weeks of the school year, I soon realized that my planning approach wasn’t as helpful as I had hoped it would be.
Why weren’t things working? Why wasn’t planning ahead making my life much easier? The answer is simple. Life is fluid and things happen. Moms get sick. Their children get sick. Family issues pop up. Trying to maintain a rigorous schedule at all leaves no room for the unexpected. We must be smart about planning content for the year.
Here’s what I mean. This past school year, Sweet Pea had a hard time with long division. I had to wipe her tears, calm her anger, banish her frustration, and pray away her feelings of discouragement. I had to spend an additional two weeks working on long division to make sure Sweet Pea mastered the topic. Had my weekly plans only devoted one week to long division, I may have been tempted to push ahead just for the sake of staying on schedule. But, that’s not why we homeschool. We homeschool so that we can tailor an education to suit our children’s needs. We should never be held hostage by our calendars.
My current method of planning puts forth a solid, usable plan, but it allows for the homeschool hiccups that show up every now again. Even with the occasional hiccup, I’m still able meet my goals. Planning content for the year this away allows us to enjoy impromptu activities and unique opportunities while still getting through our curriculum. Here’s what I do. the plan i use allows me to make minor adjustments without throwing off the major plan.
1. Reevaluate the previous year’s curriculum. How well did it work for teacher and child? How easy was it to use? Was it cost effective? Can any of the curriculum be used in subsequent years?
2. Determine the materials you’ll use for the upcoming school year and purchase them. If you’re interested in learning about our educational philosophy and the selections we’ve made for the upcoming school year, please read this post.
3. Set goals for the year. Determine the topics of any unit studies studies you wish to complete. Consider using your curriculum’s scope and sequence to determine what learning objectives you hope to meet. Compile a reading list based upon what you plan to teach. List potential field trips and joint educational ventures. Add as much information as you can. If you’re looking for goal setting forms, Donna Young has a fantastic set of printable homeschool goal setting forms here.
4. Divide the yearly goals into quarterly objectives. Decide which unit studies will be taught each quarter. Decide how much time you want to spend on each (a week? a month?) unit study. How many chapters of math will be covered each quarter? Which chapters will they be? Which of the books on your reading list are required reading? Which titles are optional?
At the end of each month, look at your quarterly objectives and use them to figure out your monthly goals. As you plan, you’ll be able to make any needed adjustments to your teaching schedule. Perhaps you’ve moved more quickly than you expected and therefore have covered more material. Maybe a stomach virus caused you to take a week off and slowed your progress. The month at a glance planner page found here (scroll down her page to find it) may be helpful to you.
Once you’ve figured out your monthly plan, you can write down your plans for the week. Make adjustments as necessary, but don’t fret if things don’t go as planned. When you sit down at the end of the month, you’ll be able to tweak the schedule needed for the coming month.
Planning content for the upcoming year is extremely important. However, you don’t want to become a slave to your planning schedule! A loose but purposeful schedule can help you make the most of the upcoming school year. When situations arise, you may find that planning is easier to handle. Don’t be rigid as you plan. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!
© 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.