Figure out what worked last year
If you’ve been homeschooling for a while, look at the past year and think about what worked for you and what was a flop. If you are just beginning your homeschool journey, you won’t have a lot to go on, but you can still make observations about what your child likes to do and make some guesses based on that.
Ask your kids for input
Sit down with each child individually and ask them what they would like to learn. Talk about what they liked and disliked from the previous year and what topics they are interested in learning more about. Go in with a sky’s the limit attitude and see where they take you.
You may not be able to make all their wishes come true, but it’s fun to learn what they are interested in and find ways to incorporate that into their days as much as possible.
Think about what you want to teach
After you have a lesson planning interview with your children, have one with yourself. What topics do you feel it’s important for them to learn this year? Will you be taking any special trips that you’d like to incorporate into your homeschool? What about holidays or special exhibits coming to your local museum? Think beyond the basics and ask yourself what extra lessons could benefit yourself and your children. Life skills to character traits are all fair game when you are planning your homeschool year.
Create an outline
It can feel overwhelming to schedule out an entire year, so think in terms of an outline instead. Sketch in broad strokes what special things you would like to cover and when. For example, if you want to learn about pumpkins, you’ll probably want to fit that in to October or November rather than March or April. If you don’t write it out, you might get to Thanksgiving and think, “Oh, I forgot all about that pumpkin lesson!” A month-by-month outline lets you lay out the big topics you’d like to cover without the commitment of scheduling each day in detail.
Choose your curriculum
Once you’ve considered your child’s learning style and interests and how much time you want to devote to lessons, now’s the time to choose the curriculum you’ll use. Choose something that works with your family’s style. Using a boxed curriculum for basic subjects and supplementing with unit studies for extra areas of interest works well to make sure you cover basic grade level learning while also making room for additional subjects that are important to you and your children.
Make your schedule
Schedule no more than two months in advance. Sometimes things will take more or less time than you originally estimate, so it’s best to take some time each month to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Keeping a daily schedule or checklist works well for many people and will make revising each month or two a breeze.
Write out a list of each subject that needs to be covered plus chores or other daily needs; then add in your extras as needed. The daily list will not change much throughout the year unless you need it to.
Take a deep breath! Homeschooling is a lot of fun. Planning can be scary, and it might need to take a day or two of hard work to get your schedule in order, but don’t let it freak you out. If you get overwhelmed, just step away from it for a few hours and come back the next day. Having a plan will make your school year easier later on. Really, the planning is way more work than the actual doing, so relax and bask in the knowledge that once you get through this, you’ll be set for a great year!