The Complete Guide to Planning Your Homeschool Year
Now that our homeschool year is finished, I am getting focused on the next year to come. I have already purchased our new curriculum, and now it is time to get into planning mode! Planning your homeschool year can feel a little overwhelming for new homeschool parents. If you choose to buy a premade curriculum or packaged curriculum set, then most of your planning/ scheduling will be taken care of. That is why those options are most appealing to new homeschooling parents. (The unknown can be scary!) But, honestly, it is not as daunting of a task as it may seem. These are the steps that I follow every year when I make my homeschool plans. Just follow along, and you’ll have your year planned in no time!
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Choosing a Homeschool Planner
Let’s talk about planners! (The good stuff!)
Pre-made Vs. Printable
I have used both pre made and printable versions of planners. I have come to the conclusion that a printable planner works the best for our needs. Simply because it is more customizable. However, I am not going to tell you that will work best for you. There are pros and cons to both types. It just comes down to whatever works best for you.
>No printing, binding, or assembly required
>Just open and fill in your assignments
>Can get costly
>No room for errors.
Pro-tip: If you choose to go with a pre-made planner, fill in your planner with pencil. This makes it easy to erase when needed….and trust me, you will need it. I have lived and learned this lesson!
A Few Pre-made Options:
>Fully customizable (my favorite part!)
>No premade dates for those who start and end school on an unconventional schedule.
>Add to or takeaway the pages you don’t need.
>Choose your own planning layout.
>Order the pages however you’d like: If a page needs replacing, it is super easy to do.(If using a binder.) >Affordable: Yes, even with all the printing you will come out on top.
>Printing (If you don’t have access to a printer this can be an issue.)
>Takes some time to put together. (Although it’s not too time consuming.)
(There are many other options here too!)
Planning Your Year Using A Year-at-a-Glance Calendar
When planning my homeschool year, I like to print off a couple year-at-a-glance calendars. You will want one or two for a draft, then another for your final copy. Grab a couple highlighters and a pen. When you get your calendar there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself.
How many days per year will you homeschool?
How many days per year do I need to homeschool? Well, this is all dependent on
whether your state has a requirement or not. Some states will require you to homeschool for 180 days at least. (Which is a typical school year.)
How many weeks per year will you homeschool?
A typical homeschool year lasts from 34-36 weeks. To get in a 180-day requirement you should homeschool 5 days per week for 36 weeks. If you choose to do a 4 week schedule, you will have more weeks to your year. You may even consider year-round homeschooling or Sabbath schooling (6 weeks on, 1 week off).
How many days per week?
Some parents homeschool 5-days per week, others 4-days per week, and some do homeschooling on the weekends. There is no right or wrong amount of days for your homeschool. That is completely up to you. I use a 4-day per week homeschooling schedule because it is what works best for our family.
Related Post: How to Make a 4-day Schedule Work For Your Family
Other things to take into consideration…
If you have opted to use a curriculum that comes with premade schedules and plans for your year, you may want to take a look to see how many days and weeks are scheduled. You can always tweak the plans to what you’d like, but most parents find it easier just to follow along with the predetermined plans.
Now the fun begins!
Now that you have figured out a basic idea of how you want your school year to look, it is time to pick a date to start.
- Choose your date and mark it on the year-at-a-glance calendar.
- Go through and mark out all the days that you want to take off. (Birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc.)
- Start at your start date, and highlight your weeks.
What is a homeschool binder, and do I need one?
My first year of homeschooling, I did so much research it was unreal! I wanted to make sure I got off on the right foot. The best thing I did was make a homeschool master binder. Inside your master binder, you will put all of your important homeschooling papers. If you choose to do a printable homeschool planner, you can also incorporate it inside your master binder.
Why You Need One
Having a master binder for your homeschool will help you stay more organized and on top of things. That reason alone is enough for me! I know I can always use a little more organization in my life.
What’s in my homeschool binder?
There are a few important papers you will want to keep inside of your master binder.
1. Laws for your state. Print out a new copy each year for your master binder.
2. Tax write-off information for your state.
5.Year at a glance
6. Grade Keepers
6. Grading Scale
7. Lesson Plans
8. Field trip tracker
9. Goals for the Year
10. List or calendar for holidays.
11. Notebook paper for jotting down notes.
12. Curriculum tracker.
13. Expense tracker
14. Library book tracker
15. Any planning pages you want/need.
16. Add papers as you see fit.
Lesson plans and schedules!
Lesson planning can be done as soon as you have your homeschool curriculum. If you opted for a pre-packaged curriculum, the lesson plans may already be in place. However, there are some curriculums that do not come with lesson plans. So, this is the time to sit down and plan those out. It should be easier to make plans with your year planned out. You now know how many weeks you will be homeschooling, and how many days per week you will be homeschooling.
Planning your Lessons:
- First make your weekly plans on a scratch piece of paper dividing it up into 34 or 36 weeks. (However many you chose.
- Then move on to your daily plans, dividing your weekly plans up by how many days per week you will be homeschooling.
- When you’ve finished up your rough drafts of your plans, you can transfer them over to your planner.
I do not follow a strict homeschool schedule. However, I do have a routine that I follow. It makes our school days run much smoother.
When making a daily schedule, you need to look at your everyday tasks. What do you do on a daily basis? When do you normally eat breakfast or lunch. How many hours per day do you want to do school? After you figure all these things out, it will be easier to set up a schedule or even a loose routine like mine. Here’s an example of what our daily routine looks like.
Reading and any left over independent subjects
(School for all 3 of my kids is usually done by 1-2pm)
I like to use loop schedules for some of our subjects in our homeschool. It is so helpful for fitting in a lot in a weeks time without feeling super overwhelmed or skipping over things.
You can read more about loop scheduling here>>> The Reason Why We Love Loop Scheduling
Take it slow!
All of your planning does not have to get done in one day. If you have a free day without the kids, and want to get it all done that day, then that is great! But, if you only have a couple hours here and there, then do it that way. Take it slow, and don’t stress it. I use my entire “summer break” to get my planning done. I do one or two things a day throughout the week. It always gets done, and I am ready for the next school year well before our break is over.
Have fun planning!!
Edited to add:
How to use the Habit tracker from A Charlotte Mason Homeschool Planner:
It was requested that I show how I fill out our habit tracker for the school year.
Next to the check boxes I write out my list of habits that I think my children need to focus on for the year. (Picture below.)
In parenthesis next to the habit I write which child needs to focus on the habit.
In your resource box, just list the books, curriculum, or motivation for teaching/ instilling those habits. For me, I do not use a formal curriculum. I just reference the Bible for certain things.