“How to plan a successful homeschool year” sounds like I’m guaranteeing success if you’ll just follow a few simple steps. So maybe I should have chosen a different title for this post. Because we all know it isn’t that simple. 🙂
Maybe a better title would have been, “How To Create An Individualized Homeschool Plan That Will Work For You And Your Children As Long As No Unusual Circumstances Crop Up To Ruin Your Plan. In That Case, Give Yourself Grace And Know That It’s Going To Be Okay!” That seems a bit too long, so I guess I’ll just stick with the original title, however lofty it may seem.
One of the main keys to planning a successful homeschool year is to take some time to consider your own strengths and weaknesses. Who are you? What do you want your homeschool year to look like? Do you like doing hands-on projects, or do you prefer less mess and something simpler?
I’ve been going through Pam Barnhill’s homeschool planning kit, Plan Your Year, to help me think through this school year. In the book, Pam shares her own journey toward finding what works for her:
“Make no mistake, I am not advocating totally child-led learning. Planning is a triad: the plan, the child, and the mother. Why was I creating an expectation for myself to spend hours outside studying nature when I hated being outdoors? I hate the heat, the bugs, the possibility of snakes. Ick. I don’t know a woodpecker from a warbler, and yet I felt guilty for not checking off my scheduled nature study box each week. The same goes for elaborate crafts, piles of cute printables, and morning calendar time. While these things work great for some homeschooling families (maybe even you!), they were simply not me.”
(We personally love nature study and studying bugs, spiders, and birds, but if that’s not something you enjoy, don’t think you have to do this to be successful! Do what works for you and your children!)
“My planning epiphany came when I decided that I was no longer striving for the perfect homeschool plan. Instead I would strive for the perfect plan for us: the plan that I would actually implement and the plan that would work for my children. I threw out all of the things that were not working, shut out the noise from the homeschool ‘experts,’ and blocked out the voices from my public school past. I took a long, hard look at who we are, what we will do, and the things we actually enjoy. Then I scheduled in those things, became a happier homeschool mom, and started to feel successful. Funny thing, my children thrived as well.”
The key to success is to make your plan personal. Create a plan in which you and your individual children will thrive, not one that looks like what everybody else seems to be doing.
Know Your Why
Having a clear vision in mind for your homeschool will go far in keeping you on track and committed to homeschooling for the long haul. On the hard days, you have to know why you’re doing this.
Your homeschool vision will also help you evaluate activities and resources for your school year. The books you use, your schedule, and any extracurricular activities should all be scrutinized with the question, “Will this help us reach the goals we have for our children this year?” Of course, your vision and plan for your homeschool will change and grow over time, and that’s okay! But it’s helpful to have some basic criteria for making those decisions, and your homeschool vision will help.
“A helpful place to start this process is by looking into the future. Ask yourself, as your children graduate from your homeschool and leave your home, what kind of person do you want to see before you? What skills do you want them to be proficient at? What books do you want them to have read? What ideas do you want them to have been exposed to?”
Consider Your Children
As we begin to plan for a new homeschool year, it’s important to also consider each individual child. Consider their strengths, weaknesses, and interests.
We have five children, and they are all so different! Some excel at language and writing, and some are better at math. One loves to read, while another would rather be doing gymnastics on the trampoline. One has no difficulty sitting still, while another prefers to read standing up!
Keeping individual personalities and learning styles in mind when planning will make the whole year much more successful.
Give Yourself Grace
I’ve never had a homeschool year go exactly as planned, and I regularly have to re-do schedules and search for something different when a planned-for resource just doesn’t work for one of my children. Our lives and our children are constantly undergoing change, so go ahead and determine right now to be flexible! 🙂 And know that it’s all part of the process. It’s part of being human. And you’re not a failure just because you need to make a change in plans. Give yourself grace, Mama.
I mentioned Pam Barnhill’s planning kit, Plan Your Year, earlier in the post. I love Pam’s helpful and encouraging ideas. You may have heard of her morning time resource, Your Morning Basket (super helpful for planning morning time!).
Related Post: Why Morning Time is Worth Planning Into Your Day
If you’re new to homeschool planning, or if you just need a fresh perspective, Pam’s homeschool planning kit may be just what you need!
Also, you get all these adorable printables to use along with the Plan Your Year book (this isn’t even all of them—there are lots more)! And, they are editable! You can type right into the forms if you want to (or you can print blank ones and write in your information if you prefer that).
And in addition to the planning guide and printables, you also get an audio interview with Sarah Mackenzie on how to plan for a peaceful year of learning in your home. And, an audio interview with Mystie Winkler of Simplified Organization, about how to take your plan from page to practice, and how to overcome barriers you might face.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Plan Your Year for review purposes. I only recommend products I have used and enjoy myself. This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here. Sharing here.