Simple Homeschool Planning Guide
When we first started homeschooling, I either over planned or under planned. Now, ten years into this fantastic adventure, I’ve finally gotten the hang of simple homeschool planning.
In the beginning, I kind of just thought we’d work each day and putter along. We did that, but I always felt we needed a little more structure. I was never sure if the kids were doing enough in a day’s time. And sometimes, it even felt chaotic.
So, I flipped that coin and decided to plan every one of my children’s homeschool subjects down to the letter.
Yeah, that didn’t work either. In fact, it brought me back to the same chaotic feeling. Everytime we ran behind I felt like a military general fighting a losing battle with time. It was an awful feeling.
I’ve finally gotten the basics of simple homeschool planning down pat and want to share it with you. My methods are by no means the only way of doing things and I’m sure other parents may do their homeschool planning differently.
This is just a jumping-off point for you if you have no idea where to start. I encourage you to experiment and come up with the best plan for your family.
Before you start your simple homeschool planning…
Before you start your homeschool curriculum planning you’ll want to find out how many days you’re required to homeschool for the year by your state. You can find this information by visiting your state’s board of education website or consulting with your umbrella school.
You can read Planning Your Homeschool Year to Avoid Burnout to find out how I plan our homeschool calendar.
Things you’ll need to do your homeschool planning…
- A good planner, traditional or a homeschool planner
- Your completed 2020-2021 Homeschool Year-at-a-Glance Calendar (see below)
- Frixion pen, erasable pen, or pencil
- Highlighting marker
- Sticky notes
- All homeschool curriculum you’ll be planning
You’ll need the completed 2020-2021 Homeschool Year-at-a-Glance Calendar to mark out the days in the planner that you aren’t planning to count as homeschooling days.
Ways to Plan Homeschool Curriculum
Begin with Flexible Homeschool Planning
Beginnings are rough most of the time. You don’t know what to expect when you’re starting something new, and every school year is a new beginning.
Even if you think you’ll like a more structured homeschool day, at least begin with a more flexible schedule for the first couple of weeks.
All kids are different and some work through their lessons faster than others. Some need more help with practice exercises, some need less, and it never seems to work out the way you think it will.
Giving yourself some homeschooling grace during that first couple of weeks will help you see how your homeschool routine will actually look.
How to Be Flexible When Homeschool Planning
Homeschool flexibility looks different for everyone, but one way you could be flexible in the beginning is to only work on a couple of subjects per day. Rotating subjects each day is a great idea, especially if your child really enjoys one subject over another.
A couple of my kids enjoy reading, and one will read history books for most of his school hours if you let him. So, even though we’ve been homeschooling for quite a while, sometimes some of my kids only do a couple of subjects per day.
If you’re worried about getting behind in your texts or workbooks, you can always combine some shorter lessons or chapters, or completely cut less important ones out altogether.
You could also allow for extra time for work to be completed. In the examples below, I break down how to plan texts and workbooks to complete them by the end of your homeschool year.
However, if you’re being flexible at the beginning of your homeschool year and your school year is 36 weeks long, you could use 34 weeks in your calculations. This would make sure you get the work completed by the normal end of your school year and also give you a bit of a buffer throughout the year for unexpected or unscheduled days off.
Simple Homeschool Planning for Textbook Users
If you’re planning traditional textbook homeschool curriculum, look at the table of contents and get the number of chapters in the book.
As long as you plan on completing all the chapters, you can divide the number of chapters by the number of weeks in your homeschool year or by the number of homeschool days. I prefer dividing by the number of homeschool weeks.
Here’s the visual math —
Total # chapters in text ÷ homeschool weeks = # of chapters to complete per week
Total # lessons in text ÷ homeschool weeks = # of lessons to complete per week
Real life homeschool textbook example —
Your child’s math text has 144 chapters. If you have a 36 week school year, you’ll need to complete 4 lessons per week in order to finish the text by the end of your school year.
Simple Homeschool Planning for Workbook Users
If you’re planning a workbook homeschool curriculum, like ACE Paces or LifePac, take the total number of workbooks in the subject you’re planning and divide by the number of weeks in your homeschool year. This will give you the number of weeks you’ll use for each workbook.
Then, to take it down a little further, you’ll divide the number of pages in each workbook by the number of days in your homeschool weeks. Don’t forget to figure in a day to test if you plan on testing your homeschooler.
Here’s the visual math for that —
Total # workbooks ÷ homeschool weeks = # of weeks to complete each book
Total # of pages per workbook ÷ # of days in the homeschool weeks used to complete the workbook – 1 for test day = # of pages to complete each day
Real life example —
My kids sometimes use ACE Paces. There are 12 paces in each subject for the school year. Our school year is 36 weeks long. That means that my child has three weeks to complete one pace.
36 weeks ÷ 12 paces = 3 weeks per pace
The number of pages in each pace vary and increase with grade level. My high schooler’s World Geography paces have Activity Pacs in the center. Therefore, we base the number of pages he needs to complete per day on that number.
To calculate how much he’ll need to do to stay on track, I count the number of Activity Pac pages and divide by the number of days in three school weeks, which is fifteen. Then, I subtract one day for testing. That leaves us with 14 days for the pace.
If there are 27 pages in the Activity Pac, he’ll need to complete 1.92 pages per day. I would probably have him complete two pages per day to be on the safe side.
It looks like this —
27 Activity Pac pages ÷ 14 days = 1.92 pages per day
If you’ve decided you aren’t going to do all the lessons, make sure you subtract the ones you’re excluding before working the math.
Make notes for each subject on a sticky note and set to the side. We’ll be back to those in a few minutes.
Your Homeschool Schedule
Now, you’ll need to get out your planner and mark off all those days you’ve decided not to have regular homeschool — holidays, breaks, and special days.
Do you want your children to finish up certain chapters, sections, or books before you take a long break? If so, be sure to note that in your homeschool planner with enough time before the break that it can be completed. Listing the breaks in your planner and highlighting them will help you remember.
Homeschool Planning the Easy Way
Grab all those sticky notes you made a few minutes ago. Put them on the first day of your school year.
Each week, you’ll write the page range of work to be done in the planner. You’ll move the sticky note each week as a reminder of what’s to be completed, and you’ll look back at the last week to see what pages were completed.
So, if Little Johnny is supposed to complete two pages of History per day, he’ll be doing pages 1 — 10 the first week of school. Be sure you write those pages in your planner with a pencil, Frixion Pen, or some other erasable writing instrument.
You can do this every week or you can plan a few weeks at a time, but I wouldn’t advise getting too far ahead. You never know how situations could change and throw off your plan.
Scheduling Time for Homeschool Fun
It’s very important you schedule time for homeschool subjects you children would consider fun.
My kids like art. Once a week, we try to do some small art project.
One of my boys has taken a fancy to photography, so I found a curriculum for that here. Another of my other sons took filmmaking last year. Those are subjects I consider fun school. Anything my kids want to learn about and they think is fun, I consider fun school.
Those types of subjects could be reserved for Fridays if you wanted. You’d need to adjust the scheduling of the other subjects accordingly to stay on track, but it could be done.
One last thing. Please don’t overschedule yourself or your children. That is the quickest way to crash and burn in homeschooling.
Find your family’s best schedule and stick with that. It does not matter what it looks like to others. It only matters that it works for your family.