Shown above: Well Planned Day Original Homeschool Planner
It’s one thing to know what to plan for the school year. It’s quite another thing to know how to actually tackle the planning! Many times when we try to create a school year plan, we try to tackle planning for the entire year, biting off far more than we’re ready to chew.
In case you weren’t aware, that’s incredibly overwhelming! But how do we break it down while still successfully creating a plan for the school year?
Breaking Down the School Year Plan: One Day at a Time
Did you know that you don’t have to tackle the whole year when creating a school year plan? Why not just start with one day? That’s right, start by considering what a typical Monday looks like (we’re not talking specific details yet, just the outline of a typical day). Write that down. Now move to Tuesday. One day at a time.
Try to avoid setting a by-the-clock schedule. Instead, only schedule those things that absolutely have to be done by the clock. Then fill the schedule out by setting routines. You might have a routine that runs from the time you get up until the start of school, including getting dressed, making the bed, eating breakfast, etc.
Your next routine might involved morning school, including a list of the subjects that will be tackled and the order that they’ll be completed in. Instead of having to start and stop each subject at specific times, you can flow from one subject to the next as you complete what needs to be done for that day.
You’ll then want to add routines for lunchtime, afternoon, and evening. It may be the same every day, or you might have a different routine for each day of the week. Either way, you’ll be amazed by how much guidance a daily schedule can give when it comes time to fill in the details of a school year plan!
Building Up the School Year Plan: 180 Days
Now that you have a schedule, you’re ready to start laying out the school year. But remember what we set at the beginning: it’s just not wise to plan a whole year at once. Too many things change over the course of the year! But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a full school year plan!
An average school year is 180 days, or 36 weeks. If you’re using an online planner that makes it easy to move dates and rearrange assignments as needed, you can go ahead and lay out specific assignments for each of those 36 weeks. But, if you’re only using a paper planner, there are better ways to figure out how you’re going to be fully prepared for each week.
There are two critical tasks to complete in order to be prepared for the school year.
- Gain familiarity with your curriculum. Skim through the material and see how many lessons there are. Are they all the same length, or will some take more time than others? You don’t have to spend a whole lot of time on this. But by previewing each subject, you can get a pretty good feel for the layout.
- Set benchmarks for every six weeks throughout the year. First, determine when you want to be completely done with this year’s curriculum. Next, take your notes from your curriculum preview and mark down where your student needs to be in the curriculum at the end of every six weeks in order to be done by that completion goal.
Once you have these two pieces of information, you can then lay out your lesson plans one week at a time while still staying on target for your entire year!
Keeping Up with the School Year Plan: Planning Each Week
Now that you have created a daily schedule and established benchmarks to keep you on track throughout the homeschool year, you’re well on your way toward a solid school year plan!
Because you’ve built a foundation with your daily schedule and your 6-week goals, planning for each week will now be much less daunting. As you prepare for a new week, take a look at your first set of benchmarks. Evaluate how much you need to accomplish in each subject this week to help you stay on track to reach those benchmarks. Spread that out across the week, and your weekly planning is done!
Then, as you wrap up your week, look back and see what was accomplished and what didn’t get done. Are you moving too fast in anything? Is there a subject where your student actually needs to move more aggressively? Use this information to help you prepare for next week. At the end of your first six weeks, you can then determine whether or not you need to adjust any of your benchmarks to stay on track with your school year plan.
Many planners provide space either for the overall goals or for the daily planning. I found that I needed both on hand in one planner. That’s why I have included the ACHIEVE method in the Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner, guiding you through all the steps needed to create a daily schedule, jot down benchmarks, and lay out daily and weekly assignments.
With these guides in hand, you will find yourself well on your way to a solid school year plan.