Hey, Homeschool Mom,
Are you stressing about homeschool planning? Frustrated with all the failed plans and unchecked boxes? Feeling like you don’t get things done and are always behind? Wondering if it’s better to ditch the details and use routines for homeschool planning instead?
I completely understand! I used to have those same stresses and frustrations. First, I want you to know that it is common, and most homeschoolers take 2-3 years before they find their groove. So, take a deep breath and give yourself lots of grace, mama!
Second, I want to tell you about some tips, tools, and experiences from my own groove-finding journey that may provide just the solution you’re looking for. We all have different teaching styles, requirements, and ways of thinking that will impact how we plan and organize our homeschool. Don’t give up if what works for everyone else doesn’t work for you!
How I Started Using Rhythms & Routines for Homeschool Planning
I’m a busy homeschool mom of 6 ranging from toddler to 5th grade. It’s been a few years since I changed up how we did planning and daily activity management, and I’m so glad we did. Not only do we get much more done during the year, but I no longer stress out about whether we’re “behind.” Part of that comes with more experience and a better understanding of the whole-person nature of homeschooling. Part of it is having better tools and methods in place.
Ditching the Detailed Lesson Plan
When I first started homeschooling I tried to replicate public school at home. If I could have fit desks into our little house, I would have! I would create beautiful, detailed plans packed full of ALL the activities and resources were were going to use, but would abandon them within a month, tops.
So I tried more detailed scheduling, with color coding, 30- or 60-minute increments, and a long list of items to plow through each day. It usually bombed by the end of breakfast.
Frustrated and feeling like a failure, I scrambled for a while until I had an “aha” moment: I was trying to force a cookie cutter homeschool onto my family! First it was trying to replicate public school. Then it was trying to replicate what ALL the Type A homeschool moms seemed to do without breaking a sweat. It was crazy-making.
Two things really helped me to get back on track:
1) I started praying diligently for guidance and wisdom on how to approach our homeschool and manage our daily work, and
2) I started from scratch, building up a system that would actually work for me.
Here are the questions I worked through:
- What are the requirements for my homeschool?
- What are the tools and resources I have at my disposal?
- How can I design a system that works perfectly for our needs and preferences?
Casting the Vision for Homeschooling
I talk about this a lot because it’s so very essential for our homeschooling journey: prayerfully creating a vision or mission statement for your homeschool! Doing this really helps me to hone in on what activities to keep and what to cut out, how to structure our days, what subjects to focus on first, and so on.
Building on Family Rhythms
Instead of trying to overlay a structured homeschooling schedule onto your family, sketch out what your family already does all the time and any restrictions on your schedule. Break down the days of the week into blocks such as morning, lunch, afternoon, and evening, and block out a “rhythm” for your family, being careful to keep things super simple.
If you decide to add or change something from what you already do, stick to ONE thing at a time and make it a simple change. This will create a skeleton that you can add your homeschool activities to. It’s an essential part of using routines for homeschool planning.
Establishing Homeschool Routines
Once your family rhythms are established, decide how to naturally work a homeschool routine into it. For example, do school read aloud times during meals, do group work in the mornings, and independent work while the littles sleep, and so on.
Don’t force a schedule where you have to do every subject every day. Try alternating math for a week and science for a week, or literature studies with writing assignments. Spend more time on an art series and when you’re done, switch to a music series, or set something like that aside for the summer.
YOU are the boss – make the curriculum and schedule YOUR tools instead of being a slave to them. Do that by using routines for homeschool planning and choosing materials and activiites that you can easily incorporate into your natural family rhythms without a lot of planning or preparation.
Trading Detailed Plans for Records of Accomplishment
Homeschoolers are often surprised when I tell them I don’t do lesson planning. It’s true, though! Lesson planning efforts spend time organizing all the materials for some study and/or writing out what the lessons would be each day and trying to check everything off. It was never sustainable for me.
It took me a while to realize something key to solving this problem: Lesson planning isn’t necessary and is a waste of my time! Our state doesn’t require it, it just served to stress me out and make me feel like a failure, and it wasn’t serving our needs at all.
So, I ditched it. Instead of detailed lesson planning, I just make a rough sketch of the year, some notes about what I want to accomplish during the upcoming quarter, and that’s it! Then throughout the month I write down what we actually DID, and check in each quarter with my overall goals.
Of course, you’ll have to make sure you are meeting whatever your state requirements are for such things, but going minimalist on planning can not only bring a HUGE sigh of relief but also be a boon to your productivity!We rely on our rhythms and routines for homeschool planning instead, and it’s a much more natural fit.
Flexible Task Management With Loop Scheduling
One thing that did need to keep happening was daily task management to help us keep making progress. Loop scheduling has been my favorite tool for managing the flow of our daily work!
Each schooling child has a sheet with a very short list of things they have to accomplish each day (math, chores, etc). Then it has another list of things they “loop” through. After they finish their daily tasks, they do the next item (or two) on their looping list. When they get to the bottom, they just go back to the top! It’s perfect for the things I want them to make process on but that don’t need daily attention.
It’s been a total game changer!
Tools to Help You Succeed
This approach to planning and daily work has been such a blessing to us and our homeschool that I designed some tools to help YOU do the same.
Our popular Loop Scheduling Workshop helps you with templates and examples to set up loop scheduling for a variety of purposes and needs. It includes video lessons and an exclusive FB group!
You will also love our Rhythms & Routines Homeschool Planning System! It includes a printable planner and a course that walks you step by step through how to use routines for homeschool planning and set up a system that works with YOUR family and personality, with fillable pages and various templates to choose from.
You’ve Got This!
I hope these ideas and tools help you find your groove, dear mom, and learn to use rhythms and routines for homeschool planning! My hope is that your main take-away from this is that with some experimenting and creative thinking, you CAN find the planning approach that works best for you.
Have a great homeschooling year!