As a homeschool Mom, when do you typically do your homeschool planning for the next school year? Do you plan it weeks before the school year starts? Or do you find yourself scrambling each year to get it done?
If you fall into the second category, it may be time to make a change.
Instead of madly rushing to finish planning your homeschool year on the eve of your first day of school, get started this summer.
Honestly, it’s a simple fix. Just take the time to learn how to use the summer months to prepare for your next school year. Here’s how.
Start Next Year’s Homeschool Planning Early
Don’t wait to start your homeschool planning.
Instead, start as early as the first week of summer break.
(That is, if you take a summer break. We homeschool year round, so homeschool planning happens continuously.)
Sure, take a week or two to rest. However, the earlier you start, the earlier you will get next year’s curriculum planned.
Select Your Subjects
Do you expect to introduce new subjects next year?
Or maybe remove some? Make those decisions before you begin to use the summer months for homeschool planning and ordering curriculum.
I’ve learned the hard way that putting this off could mean backordered text books. Or shipping delays.
Also take the time to make note of extracurricular signups for fall activities. For example, In our area, there’s a very short window for getting kids into activities such as dance, gymnastics, speed skating or swimming. I diarize the sign-up day, then get online bright and early to reserve the kids’ spots.
Choose Your Curriculum Options
After you and your children select the subjects for next year’s homeschool, it’s time to choose your curriculum.
Will you stick with your tried-and-true homeschool curriculum? Or try something new?
We’re going into our ninth year of using Sunlight as our main open-and-go homeschool curriculum. However, I make time during homeschool planning each year to carefully evaluate whether we want to continue.
And honestly, we’ve struggled with Math options. To date, we’ve tried Singapore Math, Mathseeds, Horizons Math, and Teaching Textbooks. Last year, my sixth grader wanted to try Math U See. It worked well, so we will also continue with that for seventh grade.
If this is your first year homeschooling, your homeschool planning sessions should include reviewing different curriculum options. You might want to consider reviewing several before making your final decision.
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Test Each Option
Another reason to start homeschool planning is getting extra testing time. You might get to try it out for a few weeks before purchasing.
Before investing in Sonlight, I downloaded three weeks of lessons from their website. (It’s a free sample.) We’re a book-loving family, so I already had several of the books required. I signed the others out from our library.
I was very happy to have had the chance to try this before buying. However, if I’d waited until September I would have felt rushed and anxious if it wasn’t a good fit.
Since some homeschool curriculum options can be expensive, homeschool planning in the summer makes sense for many families.
Another option for summer homeschool planning involves simply ordering a single piece or two from each of your options as a test.
This gives you the chance to satisfy yourself (and your children) that a particular curriculum will work for your family before you order the full set.
You may also want to look at online-only curriculum options. We did that with Teaching Textbooks. I suggested to my daughter that this was a “fun math online game” that she could try out before starting “real homeschool” in September. And you know what? She loved it.
What’s Your Best Homeschool Planning Method?
Once you’ve reached this stage, you’ll need to decide how to keep track of your new school year curriculum. This could be done in several different ways, such as:
- an online lesson planner
- a paper lesson planner
- a printable homeschool planning pack
- a daily planner
For the past few years, I’ve loved The Well-Planned Day Planner by The Well Planned Gal. However, this year, I’m considering trying something new.
Since I use Trello for everything to do with running Harbour Content Development (my main business), An Off Grid Life (our family homesteading and self-reliance site), and Thrive at Home, I’m going to try it for organizing my homeschool curriculum planning this summer. And I’ll let you know how it goes!
Plan Your School Year Calendar
Another benefit to homeschool planning during the summer is that you get an early look at your school year calendar.
This can make planning other things such as important appointments and vacations extremely easy. Seeing your entire school year at a glance makes the next step much easier.
Don’t forget to include field trips or other fun days when planning your school year calendar. Everyone needs a break sometimes, and homeschool families are no different.
Plan Your Lessons
After all the preparation, you get to plan your monthly, weekly, and daily homeschool schedule.
I find it easiest to tackle one subject at a time for six-week sessions. For instance, if you are working on spelling, it is far easier to plan a few weeks’ worth of spelling words than to bounce from one subject to the next as you schedule each week.
As you plan what lessons your children will tackle each week, take note of any unit studies you may need to gather and any supplements you may need.
Combining the homeschool planning task with making your school supplies shopping lists will save time in the long run.
Planning several weeks at a time allows me to organize (or create) my unit study supplies or supplements. This also helps to relieve some of the stress of knowing what your kids are learning and when. And by planning in six-week sessions, I also get the chance to adjust what isn’t working well if needed.
Don’t Forget Reading Lists
Are your kids book monsters? Mine are.
They each read the entire year’s worth of Sonlight readers within two months of starting a new year.
That’s why my homeschool planning includes supplementing their reading lists. First, I go through old Sonlight lists.
Then I use The Good and The Beautiful Book lists.
And finally, I ask my dad for recommendations. Although I wasn’t homeschooled, my father always had a “book list” of recommended reading for my sister and me growing up.
So as you’re planning your curriculum and preparing for the new school year, don’t forget to choose any books your kids will be reading in the new year.
This includes any unit studies that you may want to go with them. And don’t forget to choose some books that fit your child’s favorite interests or hobbies.
When it comes to homeschool planning for reading, I find it easiest to simply plan the entire year’s reading materials at once. This gives me plenty of time to be sure I get the necessary books on time.
Buy Necessary Supplies
You should now have a working list of homeschool curriculum, supplements, reading books, and such for the upcoming homeschool year. And since you planned your school year during the summer, you should also have plenty of time to purchase these items without it causing undue financial strain or adding any stress.
Take the time to search any curriculum purchasing sites you might use, such as Amazon or christianbook.com. Now is also a great time to order your school supplies.
Or visit used bookstores before the start of your school year. That way, you should have everything you need for a great new year of fun and learning.