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Free Step-by-Step Guide from Well Planned Gal

Homeschool organization often feels so overwhelming. But what if there was a way to get organized by taking simple, systematic steps?

I have good news — there is a way! In 3 Simple Steps to Homeschool Organized, you’ll discover a tangible, manageable method that walks you step by step through not only preparing for your homeschool year and planning lessons but also engaging in regular evaluation that helps you stay organized. Grab your free copy today, and move from overwhelmed to organized in 3 simple steps!

Step #2 - Planning Your Homeschool Year

From: 3 Simple Steps E-Book

As I look back over my life, I can see all of the experiences that worked together to help me learn homeschool planning skills.

I’ll never forget the first time I learned to create a checklist. I was fifteen and had started working for my father. He gave me an office and began teaching me bookkeeping. Each morning, he would write down what he expected of me that day. He took it one step further by attaching one side of Velcro to my desk and the other side to the back of the steno pad.

As I completed each task, I crossed through to indicate complete. At the end of the day, my father would check my work and put a checkmark next to the task he approved of. A steno pad of paper and a simple system taught me a lifelong habit.

Creating a schedule is the framework for your daily routine. Creating a checklist is where you dive into the details. This is the key to successful homeschool planning, as well as to creating a chore system to maintain the house or a dinner menu with a shopping list. Planning your checklist paves the way to accomplishing your goals.

Homeschool Planning: Why Plan With Checklists?

For some reading this, your planner personality loves the idea of homeschool planning with a checklist. In fact, you might even create the list after accomplishing the item just so you can feel the pleasure of crossing it off. For others, you live life more spontaneously and feel you get enough done. What’s the big deal? You remember what you need to do and do it.

One of my sisters was a free spirit. We couldn’t have been more different, and yet we were best friends. I made plans, created lists, calculated the effort each item would take and would give myself micro goals by putting my checklist in a grid with an assigned time of day. My sister, on the other hand, woke to each day with thoughts of new opportunities. She doodled on her steno pad while I detailed a list.

I’d love to say that we grew up, got married, had kids, and, because of the responsibilities of life, her doodles turned into the details I appreciated, but her system was different.

Her personality was spontaneous, her lists were not very in-depth or organized; rather her organization included a few critical items written on the back of an envelope left lying around, a scrap sheet of paper (the backside of a credit card statement) stuffed in her purse, or a sticky note attached to her rear view mirror.

It was her system, and it worked for her, but I also watched as she struggled to keep it all together. She seemed more behind the ball instead of out in front of it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she was an amazing woman with a spontaneous personality. She was very relationship oriented and was known as the life of the party. But I knew that, with a few tweaks and by developing a habit, her spontaneous planning personality could keep a relaxed and exciting approach to life without feeling behind the ball.

Creating a checklist for homeschool planning can also help you focus on the now. As a homeschool mom, I may be in the middle of a math lesson and realize we ran out of something I need from the grocery. Perhaps I’m doing dishes, and I brainstorm an idea for the next day’s science lesson.

By having a place to write out my thoughts, I free up my mind to be in the here and now. It’s much easier to stay focused and less stressed knowing the item is in a place I can reference back to.

But, before you dive into adding to the checklist, let’s review a critical element of planning a checklist and then review the different types of checklists and ways to create them.

Homeschool Planning: Scheduling a Time to Plan

In the S.P.O.T. Method, we begin with scheduling. In your schedule, it’s important to set aside time to create checklists. If you’re homeschooling, creating menus for the week, or have responsibilities outside the home, you will need about 1-2 hours a week to focus on daily and homeschool planning.

For the more day-to-day checklists tasks, these can be created first thing in the morning or right before bed, whichever way works best for you. And remember, there’s also the spontaneous addition to checklists throughout the day.

By setting aside time to work on homeschool planning for the week, you’re already setting yourself up for success. When putting pen to paper you are acknowledging the need, accepting the responsibility, and likely to accomplish it.

Homeschool Planning: Lesson Plans

Homeschooling is a career and a full time job. As such, success relies upon good lesson planning. Some curricula include teacher’s guides that help you determine how much to accomplish in a day, while other curriculums might require a bit of math.

At the beginning of the year, it’s important to review curriculum for each subject and begin breaking it down into daily lesson plans. If you’re planning for the typical 36 weeks or 180 days of school, review the curriculum and find the halfway mark. That becomes your 18-week or 90-day goal.

To break it down further, divide the half in half again. This becomes your 9-weeks and 45-day goal. From this point, you can review the chapters, lessons, and page counts to determine the best method for dividing each section. Because some chapters are longer than others, and some lessons require more time, it’s good to review and create assignments based on what is reasonable to accomplish in a day.

Because life happens, you will also want to pad your estimates with an understanding that sickness and other interruptions could prevent school from being accomplished. With a little padding, you have days to catch up.

Now that you have an idea of what you need to anticipate for each day, begin planning homeschool assignments, one week at a time. Although you have broken down the year, you need schedule weekly homeschool planning sessions so that you’re not erasing and moving 9 months of work when sickness hits.

When creating lesson plans, be succinct. Your curriculum and the teacher’s guides should have the details of the subject matter, how to present it and the instructions. Your goal is to accomplish the work, so create the plans with basic page, chapter, or lesson numbers.

Homeschool Planning: Home Management Checklists

It’s important to recognize that homeschool planning isn’t just about the lesson plans. It’s about structuring all of life so that homeschooling is a successful component.

When you created your schedule, you included meal times and a chore system. Take these to the next level by creating a checklist for menus, shopping lists, cleaning tasks, and errands.

There are a few methods to creating menus. Most families have standard repeating pantry items for breakfast. Lunch is typically sandwiches or leftovers. The menu planning is often for the dinner meal. Some prefer a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meal menu that repeats. Some enjoy the freezer meals, while others, myself included, like to browse our cookbooks, Instagram tasty videos, and Allrecipes to plan the menu, often including a new recipe to try!

Whichever you prefer, remember to itemize the meal for each day. Here’s an example:

  • Monday: Chicken casserole, green beans, crescent rolls, brownies
  • Tuesday: Tacos, chips and salsa
  • Wednesday: Spaghetti, Caesar salad, breadsticks, no-bake cheesecake
  • Thursday: Leftovers / Date night
  • Friday: Homemade pizzas
  • Saturday: Tilapia, garlic potatoes, broccoli
  • Sunday: Swiss steak, 7 layer salad, rice, French bread, banana pudding

Once the menu is created, break down the dish into ingredients you need at the store. If you’re feeling adventurous, create the store list according to the layout of the aisles. While jotting down your shopping list, add the errands on the days you need to complete them.

Beyond menu, shopping, and errand lists, the weekly cleaning tasks can be assigned to the specific days. I tend to jot down items like “downstairs bathroom” on the day I want to tackle it.

Although checklists are for the details of the homeschool planning process, I’m not in need of outlining the specifics of what needs to be done in each room. Chore checklists become routine and should should take up only a minimal amount of your planning time.

Homeschool Planning: Work and Other Tasks

You may work from home, be involved in the community, or head a program at church. We women typically have more going on beyond the school, dishes, and dinner, and these are critical components of the homeschool planning process as well.

Because our lives are unique, our choices for creating the checklists will be unique as well. I’ve asked my core team of Well Planned Gals (some homeschool, some do not) to share how they create homeschool planning checklists. You can find their tips in the “Planning Advice from Homeschool Moms” section in the righthand sidebar.

Your Turn to Practice Homeschool Planning

In the sidebar to the right, you’ll find a variety of forms with different homeschool planning checklist systems. Select the one that would work best for you and begin to plan. Remember that homeschool planning is a skill, and just like any other skill, it has to be practiced.

I vividly remember learning to smock as a teenager. I’d always loved needlework, whether embroidery, cross stitch, or smocking. Once I had three little girls, I began making their Sunday dresses. Smocking is a needle work that requires attention to detail and patience. Hmm, sounds like creating a plan! In any case, the girls’ first dresses were okay, but nothing spectacular. However, with time and practice, my skills improved. In fact, as I reflect on the last twenty-five years as a mom, this is true with parenting, menu planning, cooking, chores, and, well, I guess every aspect of life.

Be patient with yourself as you begin working and fine tuning your homeschool planning skill. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes, but a little each day. Once you begin, it won’t be long until you’ve created a system that works for you and well on your way to becoming a Well Planned Gal!

A Note for Non-Planners

If you’ve taken the time to read up to this point and yet you define yourself as a non-planner, I’m guessing you feel like you’re behind the ball on the homeschool planning front. Don’t fret! There’s help.

The homeschool planning examples I included in this article are from planning veterans, moms who have been doing this for years. (They work for a planning company!) Don’t try to copy any of us. Instead, start with small steps. Among the homeschool planning downloads in the right-hand column, you’ll find a planning page for the non-planner. The concept is to begin with minimal planning and work your way up as you see the need. This allows for a good balance of spontaneity and accomplishment.

Busy Gal Planner Sample

homeschool planning

Homeschool Planner Sample

homeschool planning

Planning Advice from Homeschool Moms

homeschool planning
homeschool planning
homeschool planning
homeschool planning
homeschool planning

Planning Practice for Non-Planners

Weekly Checklists

Planning Evaluation

Success in any career requires the right tools. Homeschooling is no exception! You need resources that equip you to lay out lesson plans, teach time management, and keep good records while also managing home and life with ease. Well Planned Day Planners cover these needs and more!
Rebecca, the Well Planned Gal


The Original Homeschool Planner

Large Family Homeschool Planner

Day by Day Homeschool Recorder