Deciding to homeschool is an awesome adventure. My husband and I decided to homeschool about 7 years ago. We started off in a homeschool co-op and loved it! However, as our family dynamics changed, we realized our homeschool needs had changed also. Learning to reflect often is key to success. I had to realize that each year could possibly look very different than the last.
With that being said, a well-prepared parent can take on homeschool like a champ! My secret is no secret at all really, it is very simple. PLAN! Here are my 10 tips for planning a great homeschool year.
10 Tips for Homeschool Planning
Take time to reflect and pray – If you homeschooled last year, then take time to write out a reflection. What did you do well? What do you think needs to change? Ask your kiddos about the year and listen to their reflection. You will be amazed at the insight you can gain from the learner.
If this is your very first year, take time to develop your reasons for homeschooling and the mission statement for your family’s education. Pray about the needs of each child.
Find the perfect planner – My favorite planner is The Happy Planner, I get so inspired by all the stickers and doodles. However, I do print some brainstorming sheets from Your Morning Basket so I can really brainstorm before setting things in stone. Some of her planning sheets are absolutely perfect if you want to simply create your own planner.
Set goals for the year Start with overall goals for the family and for you as the educational leader. You will also want to set academic and character goals for each of your learners.
Identify each child’s interest – Most kiddos have specific interests they love exploring and working with daily. My 4th grader loves Minecraft, Legos, sports, and science experiments. Figuring out your child’s interest is like finding a magic wand. You will be amazed at how you can sprinkle their activities throughout the week that can motivate them and even enhance the lesson.
Here is an example with Minecraft in homeschool lessons.
Support Groups – Take time to get with other homeschoolers and support groups. This will help you gain more insight on the upcoming grade levels and allow you to glean from other parents. Community is very important. You can visit The Texas Home School Coalition’s Facebook page, to get an idea of all they have to offer. More on THSC here.
Purchase Curriculum If you already have your homeschool curriculum GREAT!!! If not, start shopping! If you want to change or add something new to your curriculum consider attending a homeschool convention. You can meet with vendors and get a better insight into the curriculum. I recommend you visit the following:
Make a Supply List – Once you begin planning, you may find yourself realizing you need a few more pencils and crayons. Make a list of all those resources and pick things up throughout the summer. This always helps me avoid the “BACK TO SCHOOL” rush.
Plan Weekly/Daily Routines – Thinking about your year is very important. As you dive into planning, consider your year. Do you like the year-round model of homeschooling? Maybe you are expecting a baby by December. Look ahead and map out what would be the best plan for your family.
In your daily routine, it is important to have norms. What time would you like to start school and end school each day? Children do very well with routine, once they learn it, it becomes very easy to be flexible when an interruption happens.
Click here for some helpful tips to build into your homeschool day.
Map out the First Couple of Weeks – Don’t plan too far ahead. This is why you need space carved out to sit and plan. Find a place where you can focus, pull out your calendar, curriculum, and planner. Think about the first few weeks of school. How do you want to begin? In what ways can you grab their attention with creative activities to drive them into the learning?
Remember the first few weeks of school will set the norm for the year, so plan well!
Organize Your School Room or Space – Time to get creative! I love rearranging my school space. We have moved several times due to my husband’s work. So I can say, I know what it is like to have an entire room dedicated to homeschool and I also have experience with using my kitchen table.
The most important thing is organization. If you are using the kitchen table, then you don’t want homeschool to take over your living space. Find creative ways to be flexible in the space you have, especially if this space is multipurpose.
- Make sure you have a place to store the books and materials your kiddos use each day. This can be as simple as their own basket or shelf. I love the seat sacks for the younger ones.
- Create a storage area for resources you need right away. This keeps things out of sight until you are ready to use them.
- Organize a mommy area. This is for all the things you will need daily, like your planner, dry erase markers, pens, timer, etc.
- Supplies! Crayons, pencils, and glue just to name a few, can become a nightmare if not organized. Get a creative container, like this 3-tier rolling cart, or this 15-Drawer Utility Cart. Just remember you and your kiddos will be reaching for supplies daily, so get what you know will be helpful.
Lastly, have FUN! Homeschool is what you make it.