Looking ahead into a new homeschool year can be exciting! So many possibilities and new memories to make. But it can also be intimidating to actually plan out a whole homeschool year. Well, I have good news! Planning the homeschool year doesn’t have to be hard. Just a few simple steps will get you a good plan that is flexible, too!
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Should You Plan Homeschool Lessons for the Whole Year?
One thing that simplifies my homeschool planning is that I do NOT plan out homeschool lessons for the whole year. I don’t even plan them for a full quarter or for a full month. Instead, I choose curriculum that lends itself to being open-and-go, or at least makes glancing ahead for the week sufficient planning ahead.
I also take advantage of good weekly rhythms and routines and loop scheduling so we keep making progress without needing detailed lesson plans. If you are the type of person that prefers everything planned out for the year, check out my friend Danika’s post about how she does that. But for my yearly planning, I just follow the easy steps below!
Easy Steps for Planning the Homeschool Year
Here are 6 easy (or at least simple) steps for planning the homeschool year. I’ll explain each in more detail below. You can totally do this!
- Decide your start and stop dates
- Mark holidays and vacations
- Plan other breaks
- Calculate curriculum milestones if needed
- Sketch the first quarter
- Schedule quarterly planning checkups
To do all my plans for the year I use a year-at-a-glance calendar. You can find several online to download for free. It also helps to have some quarterly planning pages and some other worksheets that help fill that out, such as student goals and curriculum lists. The Rhythms & Routines Homeschool Planning System is what I use, and it includes all these and more.
Decide Your Start and Stop Dates
Whether you homeschool year round or like to follow the traditional school year schedule, it helps to decide now what your start and stop dates are. I like to do this for three reasons:
- End of year celebrations. Even though we’re year-round homeschoolers, we like to do fun things to close off and start a new homeschool year.
- Knowing when to”level up” to a new grade. We do this based on age, not on what curriculum they’re using since that can vary depending on the kid and the subject. Knowing what grade level your kid is in is helpful for conversation purposes, testing (if your state requires it), and high school planning.
- Planning curriculum milestones. If I want to generally finish a level of curriculum in the year, it helps to know when I’m starting and stopping so I can plan checkpoints. I explain below how I do this planning.
Mark Holidays and Vacations
Now go back through your year-at-a-glance and cross out any weeks that you will take off for holidays or vacations you’ve already planned.
We usually do a week or two at Christmas and Easter and one during the week of July 4th. We also like to take a week off in September just because we can. 😉 Be sure to give yourself plenty of padding days before and during holidays and vacations, too!
Plan Out Other Breaks
Take a look at the rest of the year now that those vacations and holidays are blocked off. You’re likely to see longer stretches of weeks with no breaks. Now’s the time to discuss with your spouse what other weeks you can take for breaks or vacations to split up those longer blocks. You can always pencil them in and change them later!
Calculate Curriculum Milestones if Needed
If you’re concerned about completing a particular curriculum or level in a subject by the end of the year, you’ll want to quickly plan out milestones for completion.
For example, if you want to finish 4th grade math:
- Note how many lessons there are for the year.
- Figure out about how many lessons per week your child will do.
- Using your year at a glance calendar, count out how many lessons into the curriculum your child should be for each milestone of the year.
- Write down what lesson number they should be near at those milestones during the year.
- When you get to that point in the year, you can check to see how you’re doing and accelerate or slow down your progress as needed.
As year-round homeschoolers, I figure out where they should be at the end of each quarter. You might also choose just before winter break, spring break, and summer break as your milestones.
Sketch the First Quarter
If you do a rhythms and routines planning approach like I do, then you don’t necessarily do any lesson plans. But having a sketch of the first quarter or section of the year does help. Again, you can just jot that down in your planner or use the Rhythms and Routines Homeschool Planning System.
When I sketch the quarter, I like to have a quick glance of what we plan to accomplish in those months. Here’s what I like to write down:
- Field trips we’ll try to take.
- Curriculum milestones we plan to meet.
- Any big vacations, events, or holidays.
- A note on the projects, studies, or units we want to do.
- Student goals, routines, or character issues we plan to work on.
Schedule Quarterly Planning Check-Ups
Once I’ve got a decent plan for the year, I go to my online calendar and set up reminders that go off right before each quarter ends. Those reminders make sure I set a little time aside to evaluate how things are going and sketch out the next quarter of the year.
It also reminds me to make sure that I’ve recorded the things we actually accomplished during those months! It’s wonderful to see all the things we learned and the memories we made!
Planning the Homeschool Year Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
That’s it! My homeschool planning for the year is fairly simple, especially once I’ve determined our goals and curriculum choices for the year. Give it a try and see if it works for you!