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Break it Down


How Do I Make Lesson Plans?

How do I plan lessons?
How do I fit it all in?
How quickly should I move through the book?

No matter what type of planner personality you have, if you can do simple division, you can plan out those lesson plans. The end result may look different from the homeschool mom down the street, but it will fit your unique family and season. Follow these easy steps to schedule your school year with your favorite curriculum.


Read the introduction to the teacher’s guide.

Many guides give an actual schedule or at least an idea of how many lessons to complete per week. Or, they will tell you about how long a course should take—one full school year or one semester, for example. If the program centers on a weekly schedule, the guide may indicate which activities to complete each day.

For example, a spelling program might schedule a pretest for Monday, copywork for Tuesday, an oral spelling test for Wednesday, a practice test for Thursday, and a test for Friday.


Count how many weeks are in the program.

If a program follows a weekly schedule, lesson planning could be as simple as writing “Begin Week 1” on Monday and “Finish Week 1” on Friday for those who love flexibility. If you like more detail, you can divide up the week’s assignments based on what best matches each day’s routine.

Count how many lessons there are in total and divide by the number of weeks in your school year. If your program has 108 lessons for a school year, divide that by 36 weeks of school. You will need to complete 3 lessons each week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday would be a great choice.


Divide the days by the number of lessons. For a program with 90 lessons, you would divide 180 school days by 90. You will want to schedule the lessons every 2 days.

Divide the number of chapters by the number of weeks/days. If you wish to read a 25-chapter book within 5 weeks/25 days, read a chapter a day.

Using this system, though, be sure to pay attention to content. Some lessons or chapters may be longer than others and require more time. Don’t let yourself get caught off guard and thrown off because you just looked at numbers and not at the material.

What's Next?

Make notations in the textbook. If you’re using a boxed curriculum complete with a textbook, activities guide, quiz book, and test book, write notations at the bottoms of the textbook pages telling the student what to do after reading. Then, hand the textbook to your student and let him or her complete a section a day until all books have been completed.

Create a checklist and divide the tasks evenly among the weeks or days. Say you have chosen a customizable program allowing you to choose your read-alouds, activities, projects, etc. First, choose what you will actually do. Then, create a running task list that follows the program chronologically. Now, look at how many tasks you have in total and divide that by 180 days. So, if you have a list of 720 tasks, you will need to complete 4 tasks a day (or 20 tasks a week) to get through the program in a typical 36-week school year.

Set parameters for self-paced programs. If your program provides a set of workbooks for your student to progress through with no particular schedule, set a reasonable time to start and stop each workbook. Schedule empty time between the workbooks, just in case your student needs some extra time for mastery. So, if your student must complete 9 workbooks in a school year, you will have 9 start times and 9 finish times. That would be 18 “lessons.” Divide that into 36 weeks, and you get 2. Therefore, every two weeks, your student will either start or finish a workbook.

Round up or round down. In a perfect world, all programs would have lessons evenly divisible by 36 or 180. So, what happens if you come up with fractions of lessons? You have two options. If you wish to keep your weekly schedules as light as possible, round down and plan to trim the program or extend the school year to accommodate the extra lessons. If you prefer to have a buffer of time at the end of each semester or school year to review and reinforce, round up and schedule more lessons per week.

Creating a homeschool plan can be intimidating, especially when you encounter the teacher’s guides that don’t give quite the amount of guidance you’d like to see. Simple arithmetic can get you off to a good start, though. Once you have a general outline, you can flex and make changes for more intense or lighter weeks.

Is lesson planning fun or overwhelming for you? Take our Planner Personality Quiz to find out more about how to make the most of your planner personality!

Tiffany Ivie Orthman, M.Ed., is a second-generation homeschooler and Curriculum Coordinator for Well Planned Gal. She received her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from American InterContinental University Online in May, 2011. She is married to the man God chose for her, David, and is a work-at-home mom with four boys aged 8 years, 6 years, 4 years, and 2 year. She also serves as a Trustee for the Christian County Library located in Ozark, MO. Her passions are researching anything, participating in motorcycle ministry with her husband, listening to theological podcasts, and ruling the world through rocking cradles.

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