After six years of homeschooling and a lot of trial and error, I have compiled this list of ten tips to help you simplify your home school planning.
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It seems that every year I have tried to find a new and improved way to simplify the process of planning out our home school year.
I have tried planning a month at a time as well as planning out the entire year. I’ve done very detailed lessons plans and vague ones.
Some plans have worked well, others not so much.
Having tried different approaches and discovering the pros and cons of each, I have decided to share this information with you.
Hopefully, some insight will help save you some stress and make your planning more successful. Not every approach will work for everyone.
My goal here today is to give you tips that can work for any planning style or choice.
10 Tips to Simplify Your Home School Planning
Make a plan
Winging it doesn’t work.
Having even the simplest of plans is ideal.
You must have a way to track what your kids are learning, especially as they get into high school.
Your plan can be as simple as writing down which subjects you want to cover each day. If you’re more like me, you will want to have a more detailed plan.
Neither is wrong and just having a plan makes a big difference in how your home school functions.
Find a planning system you love and stick with it.
This is important. I have used at least four different planning methods over the years.
Some I liked, others I didn’t.
For some reason though, I always feel compelled to improve upon them each new year.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If your method works and you love it, just continue using it.
Don’t waste time trying to find a “better one” stick with what works.
So you’ve spent hours or days planning everything out to the minute.
You’re feeling so accomplished.
On paper, it looks amazing!
Then reality kicks in when you actually get into it and you discover that you’re going to need more time to complete a subject each day.
This can trigger you to feel pressured to get through the lessons no matter what, you have a full schedule that must get done after all.
Don’t do this to yourself or your kids.
Set realistic schedules and know that your child may need more time or less to complete the assignments.
Being flexible within your plan will save you from stressing out and making everyone, including yourself miserable.
Combine Subjects Whenever Possible
This is where unit studies come in.
As your kids get older, it can be difficult to teach them using unit studies, but not impossible.
You don’t have to plan out an elaborate unit study that lasts for a month or more and includes multiple field trips, although, if you can do that, great.
I’m suggesting combining writing with history and math with science. Create mini-units for subjects that allow your child to cover two or three subjects all at the same time.
It will take some of the stress of covering multiple topics in one day away and make the learning feel more natural and engaging.
Don’t Over Plan
This one goes along with #3, being flexible.
Over planning can be the straw that metaphorically breaks the camels back. Planning every minute and every day leaves no room for life to happen.
Even the best-laid plans will need adjusting from time to time.
Be sure to have extra time built into your schedule for unexpected things like getting sick or needing to spend an extra week on quadratic equations.
I like to leave two days a month completely open. That way if we need to make up a day or spend extra time on a subject, we can do it without feeling stressed out.
I also recommend not trying to tackle too many subjects in one day.
We don’t do every subject every day.
We do all subjects three days a week and no more than 4 subjects each day.
This works well for us and keeps my kids from getting too overwhelmed.
Schedule Catch Up Days
I mentioned this one a minute ago, but it’s worth repeating.
Schedule a couple of days a month to act as catch up days. You can even schedule a catch-up day once a week, like say on Fridays.
Use this day to finish tasks or spend extra time on a subject that was particularly challenging.
If there isn’t any work to catch up on, use the day for a unique learning opportunity, like a quick field trip or watching a historical movie.
Another option could be having Fun Fridays where you pick a national holiday, like National Pancake Day, and plan an entire mini-unit around it.
If you need some ideas for Fun Fridays, I have a great printable that lists a few ideas for each month of the year.
You can get it for free in our member’s only library.
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Meal planning is crucial to relieving stress in your home school days.
You already have a lot on your mind during a typical school day no need to add to that when it comes to mealtimes. A simple meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will save you from the daily battle.
Use a bi-weekly or weekly rotating meal plan.
Offer the same menu items for breakfast and lunch each week or so. Meaning, if on Tuesdays you have oatmeal with fruit for breakfast and tuna melts with fries for lunch, then every Tuesday you have oatmeal and tuna melts.
Change up dinner to keep things interesting, but try to plan as many easy prep(30 minutes or less) or hands-off meals like crockpot dishes as possible.
Don’t Print Everything
I made this mistake a couple of years ago.
I printed all our worksheets for the entire year in August and I was so happy with myself. That is until January came around and my daughter had been hating her math curriculum for two months already and we decided to change it.
I still had about 70 pages of worksheets printed out that we now weren’t going to use.
Plus I had to print off new ones for the new curriculum.
What a waste!
Lesson learned, I now only print off worksheets for the month and leave myself sticky notes within my planner for page numbers to print later.
This not only saves me paper and ink but also space in my file box which is pretty great too.
Include Brain Breaks
Ever heard of them?
They are simply giving your brain and your child’s a break.
When you are planning, give yourself a 5-10 minute brain break every hour.
Get up from your seat, stretch, get some water, play with your dog or your child.
During your school days, schedule breaks in between subjects to allow your kids to rest and refresh. This will help them be more prepared for learning.
Have a small list of things you can do in under 10 minutes that will help you reset your brain.
Here are a few ideas:
- go for a walk around the block
- sit outside with a cup of your favorite drink and soak up some vitamin D
- listen to music
- eat a snack
- watch an amusing video on YouTube
- wash your face
- water your plants
- play catch or jump rope or another quick activity
Find Some Quiet
Do your planning in a quiet place with few distractions.
Have everything you’ll need right there with you.
The quiet will allow you to focus on the task at hand which will make the process run more quickly and efficiently.
I like to get up early before everyone else so I know I won’t have any interruptions.
I get the most out of these quiet early morning planning sessions when I am focused and well-rested.
Home school planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Use these tips to simplify your home school planning and make the most out of your time.
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Looking for more tips and tools for managing your home school? Check out these 20 Supplies Every Home School Needs to help with planning your year.