5 Tips to Help You Prepare for the Homeschool Year
I have the books. Now what?
The curriculum has all been delivered. It’s time to prepare for the homeschool year! But at the moment, you’re sitting in the middle of the floor feeling both excitement and utter anxiety over the piles of exciting brand new books surrounding you.
If this describes you, you’re not alone! What seemed like the perfect resource when building the curriculum order can become very overwhelming when you realize that you have to actually prepare for the homeschool year by turning these wonderful resources into a real, practical teaching and learning tools for your students.
The solution is a four-letter word that might seem as intimidating as the resource: plan.
Not all of us are planners, but if we are going to successfully tackle the responsibility of homeschooling, all of us need to learn how to create at least a basic plan for the year. The beauty is that we don’t have to all plan the same way. We can plan according to our personalities. But, it’s also helpful to know that there are some foundational planning guidelines we can use, no matter what kind of planners we are.
Prepare for the Homeschool Year by Setting Parameters
The first step as you prepare for the new year is to set a start and ending date for your school year. How many weeks are included between those dates? Be sure to also consider birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, and known commitments while figuring in at least a couple of weeks of discretionary time for medical appointments, unexpected family or friend time, illness, or other interruptions.
You might be wondering if year-round schooling would create an exception to this step as you prepare for the school year. The answer is no. Even if you school year-round, you need to have a goal to work toward in order to make sure your child progresses well each year. So, you still need to set a date at which one school year ends and the next starts.
Keep in mind, though, that setting a start and end date can flex from subject to subject. If your student is moving very quickly through language arts but needs a little more time in math, it’s okay to set individual date goals for each subject. You don’t have to hold your student back in one subject just to keep them on track in another.
Prepare for the Homeschool Year by Assessing Your Child
One of the biggest challenges as you prepare for the homeschool year is the uncertainty of how much time is needed for each concept and topic. To help give you an idea of what aspects of the year will take more time and every, take the time to assess where your child is academically before you start planning. You can do this in two ways:
– Assess your child’s grasp of last year’s work to determine what things were processed well, what still takes effort, and what gaps continue to exist.
– Assess your child based on concepts which will be covered in the coming year to see what they already know, what they are able to process with some familiarity even if specific answers to questions are incorrect, and what is completely foreign information.
Some curricula include placement tests with each subject to help you assess your child. You can also use an assessment like Well Planned Start for a general evaluation. If no evaluation exists to meet your needs, use the first week of lesson plans to evaluate how ready your student is for the new year. Use your assessment results to help you evaluate what subjects will need the most time and energy.
Prepare for the Homeschool Year by Familiarizing Yourself with Resources
At the beginning of many resources, you will see a note that urges you to read through every detail before you get started. But in truth, few of us have time to even scratch the surface of all of that reading in the middle of everything else we have to do to prepare for the homeschool year!
Start instead by taking a quick look at the layout of a typical lesson or unit. Consider the total number of lessons or units, then evaluate how many days you have to complete each one to meet your target end date.
Next, pick a few random lessons from throughout the material and read through them more closely. As you process the material for a typical week or unit, write down any questions you have.
Once that’s done, you’ll have context for what information you need to glean from the introductory material. This allows you to quickly skim through the introduction and any teacher notes to find those answers and see if any other information stands out, thus saving you time and mental energy for the rest of what you need to explore as you prepare for the homeschool year.
A Special Tip to Help Natural Planners Prepare for the Homeschool Year
The temptation for natural planners is to overplan, which can be as problematic as not planning at all as you prepare for the homeschool year. Here are a some ways planners can effectively lay out the year while still maintaining necessary flexibility:
- Choose resources that make it easy to have a general idea of what’s coming or that have clearly laid out lessons or units.
- Use an online or computer based planning tool such as Well Planned Gal’s Online Planner that allows you to easily bump individual assignments and rearrange plans as needed.
- If you are a die-hard paper planner gal, use the digital planner for the whole year, then write assignments for the coming week only in your printed homeschool planner.
A Special Tip to Help Non-Planners Prepare for the Homeschool Year
Planning is necessary even for those who are not natural planners. Without it, there is no framework for ensuring that certain mile markers and goals are reached in a timely fashion. But, planning to prepare for the homeschool year doesn’t have to look the same for non-planners as it does for natural planners.
- When selecting curriculum, find resources that provide pre-done lesson plans to help you stay on track.
- Break courses down into manageable, six-week batches. At the end of each batch, evaluate where you are in comparison to your goal, then set an attainable goal for the next six weeks.
- At the end of each day, jot down what you completed that day so you can analyze what helped your reach your short-term goal or caused you to lag behind.
Don’t forget that you do have flexibility as you prepare for the homeschool year! For example, if your year seems pressed for time, consider stretching some of your studies (especially fine arts, electives, foreign language, and supplemental activities) out over two years instead of one. In the elementary years, this can even be done with history and science, leaving plenty of room for math, reading, and language arts.
The bottom line, though, is that homeschooling requires preparation of some sort, whether it’s natural to us or not. Although it can be a time-consuming prospect, preparing for the homeschool year does not have to be as daunting as some homeschooling parents fear it to be. Planning can be flexible and structured to match each individual homeschooler’s style and skills.
Do you like to lay out your own lesson plans each year, or does the thought of creating plans induce an anxiety attack? Take our Planner Personality Quiz to discover ways to have a successful and well-planned homeschool year, no matter what your planner personality might be!
We have a curriculum that plans out the lessons for each day, we love the structure!
Same here. We like structure and laid out lesson plans.
What curriculum do you use? We are using the Good and the Beautiful and love it so far.
Thanks for the great info
I wish I could get as organized as this company lol
It’s a lot of work
Yes it is! I’ve done summer homeschooling to prepare my oldest for the next grade every year since she was in Kindergarten (she’s a 3rd grader now), and I have no idea how teachers cover everything in one year.
Will have to use this info.
Love the information and help. First year homeschooler here and I could use all the help I could get.
I can second this!!! Felling pretty overwhelmed already…
Yes, I agree! This is definitely helpful!
I am so glad I found wellplannedgal! I haven’t begun homeschooling yet but have have decided that we will by the time our kids reach middle school. My oldest is just now in grade 3 and I may keep him in public school through 5th grade… not sure about that yet but we’ll at least be bringing him home for middle school for sure. This is all great info and tips – thank you.
Great read! Very helpful information. Thank you!
Homeschooling can be difficult but its so rewarding.
I really love homeschooling . And this blog I just bumped into is awesome I’m definitely going to read more and be part of this.
Thank you for all this good information, I’m a newbie his year and starting off is a bit overwhelming.
This year I’m using a curriculum that has everything thing planned out for me. It’s so nice and a game changer for out homeschool.
Great read thank you!
Thanks for all of your tips! I’m gonna have to come back and re-read all of this.
One of the best things that helped me was when I decided on a schedule of which days we’d do school, and scheduling in breaks. We school year round, and I decided to do 4 weeks of classes, then 1 week off. We can also take off for holidays, birthdays, and on random days that my husband has off during the week.
Before I decided on this schedule I would just keep going and going, and I burnt myself & my don out bajen we’d take a break from school for too long. Then school for too many days. It was a vicious cycle. But the scheduled breaks really help us.
I love how much information and tips you offer, I have 3 kids I’m homeschooling and I love learning new fun ways to teach
We are very new to homeschooling. I appreciate the advice! I am still trying to plan but at least have a curriculum.
I’m looking forward to learning more and implementing these tips.
I feel so lost! I hope to learn a lot from you guys! Exited to win. I’m so unorganized and need help!
This is great advice. We have just started to homeschool. Following a curriculum but it would be nice to have it planned out so we are more organized and can connect real life experiences with the lesson for sure.
Great read, thank you!
This is great advice, honestly never thought of doing my planning on both computer and paper I’ve always gone straight to paper books and I’m constantly crossing things out and moving things around, or just buying new books to start over because of the messiness. So this was a serious wow why didn’t I do that sooner moment!!! I’ll still always keep a paper planner, nothing better then writing everything out by hand ❤
Thanks for the contest!
Thanks for the tips. I need ALL the help I can get!! I am NOT a good planner at all!!!!
I wish I had did assessments but I am enjoying our curriculum.
This is all so great!
I am inspired
Great post! Thank you for the inspiration.
Planning is important, but the biggest takeaway I have from homeschooling is to be rigidly flexible.
Thank you! I’m new to this so any help is welcomed!
I’m one of those people who gathers all of the resources and materials, gets super excited and then….nothing. And it’s usually because life happens and I get overwhelmed OR I don’t have a plan set in place. If I don’t PLAN – it doesn’t happen most times. So this was good encouragement and information! Thank you for sharing!
Same here! I get too overwhelmed with all the materials if I don’t have a plan to implement them.
Thanks for the great info!
Thanks for information!
Thank you this post is very helpful!
This is a lot of great information! Thank you for sharing!!!
I think I need the most help with Planning. That is my weakness actually. Praying these tools will be helpful. Thank you
This is my second year homeschooling my daughter. I still feel very new to the concept and I’m glad to have found you!
Here to learn
I’m a total over planner! Thanks for the info
I am a natural planner, and really appreciate the amount of time that was taken to write this well thought out guide to help someone like me! Thank you thank THANK YOU!
Thank you for the knowledge and experience. We are new to homeschooling, although I taught for 15 years. I know it will be very different!
I’m new to homeschooling so I have lots to learn but we’re excited!
I absolutely love your planners! Interested in learning more about homeschool organization.
What a wonderful resource for homeschool teachers for students. I am excited to start getting the newsletters and be involved with this .
Very thankful, thank you!
I definitely like the advice of only writing the coming week down in a paper planner. As a new homeschool mom, my plans constantly go awry so writing only a week at a time helps me not feel discouraged!
Very interesting tips and ideas on here thank you
I’m not a natural planner but I am learning. My big struggle is with my son. He is very difficult to keep on task, so we are constantly getting behind.
Thank for the information! Very helpful
I think these are Very interesting tips and ideas on here thank you
Thank you for providing this look into better planning for homeschooling. We are on our 2nd year.
Ahh, im definitely a mixture of both. I like to plan but also need wiggle room for spontaneity and following the child
I am a planner but my daughter feels overwhelmed with them, so I keep track in my planner so when she has a question…I have the answer.
Mystina, you might consider look at Peel & Plan for your daughter. Two of my children have felt overwhelmed by planners. My oldest pushed through, but my youngest really needed another option. As he got older, he and I both knew that he needed to find planning methods that he could do without depending on me but that also worked well with the way his brain works. Something he could establish well as a child/teen but then carry with him into adulthood when I couldn’t keep track for him anymore. The peels help him learn to plan: first of all, they keep everything right in front of him such that he doesn’t have to pick up his planner; and second of all, they keep all of the information in one simple sticker instead of in an overwhelming planner. Just worth taking a look!
Homeschooling is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done
Very good information. Thank you
Loving this thank you
Planning is important, but I agree flexibility is key. That’s one of the most beautiful things about homeschooling!
This seems like a fantastic helpful site for homeschool information will definitely use this more in the future
There are some great tips here! Homeschooling during this time in our history is so important! I appreciate anything that can help us get through it!
I just love the pretty of these planners and accessories. I was so happy when you added to your line. Keep it up!
These are very helpful! Thanks for all the tips!!!
I prefer to have a planned curriculum. That way if I’m not feeling well I can just print out the schedule without the work.
Thanks for the great info.
Wanting to homeschool my kids I have an almost three year old and a newly turned 1 year old.
thanks this us awesome very informative
I’m a seasoned homeschool momma, year 23 six kids, 4 graduated. Planning for the year is my favorite part of the job! I’ve been curious about these planners for a few years and am excited to dive into the world of paper and sticker planning!
I mostly use open and go, or read and narrate style curriculum, but I would love to take the time to create my own lesson plans for some of our subjects.
This is our second year homeschooling and we absolutely love it. I wish I would have found this information at the start, but this is really helpful even now. Thank you.
Thank you for the information. Sometimes all this is a lot to take in.
Thank you for the information!
I am so glad I found this website and blog! So excited for all the information I’m going to learn. As a homeschooling mom and a full time college student who lacks planning skills, this is a god send! Thank you for all the content!
This article helped me understand that I have been holding my son back in math even though he excels, because he’s been struggling with writing. Thank you!
It’s so encouraging when we discover new areas of freedom thanks to homeschooling, isn’t it? Hope you find great new ways to help your son soar!
This is all super helpful info for me, as someone who struggles to manage organization of all the different moving parts of being as a SAHM and homeschooler! It’s overwhelming but I like how this article broke some things down into simpler chunks. Thank you!
I don’t have any of the products , but I am so interested. I’m just starting my homeschool journey and looking for any ideas and advise if anyone has any.
Great read! Thank you!
I’d love to do this to help my kids out with my grandchildren!
Great Information! I’m loving your website and I’m definitely going to keep looking around and checking everything out
I like having it all planned out for me, but I don’t mind making my own lesson plans as I go along.
I prefer to have a general goal and then do more detailed planning as I go
This is absolutely the right move! Set benchmarks for every 6-9 weeks and then just make sure your weekly planning helps you stay on track for that.
Thank you for all this wonderful information!
I need all the tips I can get!
Structure is great but sometimes the best lessons are the in the moment lessons
I wholeheartedly agree! I find that when I’m diligent with planning, those in-the-moment lessons come much more frequently. Maybe it’s because I’m less stressed about keeping up and more able to flex because I know where we are and am not at all worried about being flexible.
I always love finding new perspectives to keep a fresh eye on my goals and plans for my family. Any tips and tricks from any stage and phase of homeschooling helps with every season!
Great tips for those of us who are not natural planners. I have ADHD and this is such a struggle for me! I have naturally gravitated towards curriculum that has built in lesson plans because I get easily overwhelmed. I also do better when I jot down what I accomplished and not just to-do lists.
I often found with my ADHD kids that it was almost more helpful to show them what they HAD accomplished than what they still had left to do! Be sure to check out the Day by Day planner. It’s specifically designed to record as you go instead of planning ahead. It might be a great fit for you!
Dorothy Jo Florian
This article is very helpful!
We love structure!!! We are very routine but our kiddo does way better and is more focused with a routine.
This is helpful I begin the homeschoolingnjourney with my kids!
Thank you for all the information!! I definitely need to be better organized and keep track if what we’ve accomplished
Great tips. Thanks!
I can’t wait to use all my homeschooling stuff next year and get out of the virtual school realm!
Thank you for the helpful tips!
I really agree with the assess your children. The best way to be able to plan for what to do next is seeing where your chid is as individual!
I used to use this planner, it looks like it has been made even better!
Great tips. We school year round. I try to have a yearly plan then break it down to monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to win the giveaway!
I really enjoy curriculum that lays out the week for you, and you just keep up with the daily check offs. I plan so much daily that adding the extra stress of planning every lesson out is to much for me. I do plan lessons but not for everything. Well Planned was an amazing asset to our homeschool lives last year!
I’m a non planner with 4 children currently homeschooling and a baby. This is why planning is crucial for me yet just as important is flexibility. What I appreciate most from these tips is to break courses down into manageable, six-week batches.
Thank you for the info!
I like the planner I bought. I just wish it was purchasable as a download so I could print the pages I used and not the ones I did not. I like the happy planner binding system and the flexibility it has but the actual weekly planner pages in this one are fire!
Rebecca, The Well Planned Gal
Christina, have you seen our new custom planner? You can choose which pages you want and we print it for you!
I definitely needed the tips for nonplanners! Thanks!
THese tips are awesome thank you!
Awesome info!!! Thanks for sharing
I can’t wait to get started!
Thanks for all the good info!!
Thanks for all your helpful advice!
Love all your planner items!!
I love planning and checking off and I’ve been homeschooling for 10 years but I still get easily scattered brain trying to decide what and how much and not schedule too much bc I want the best fro my kids and also it’s soo fun I don’t want them to miss out! I love having everything in one place but prefer to physically check off paper but with 3 kids it’s so much easier to duplicate digitally… I’m excited to try the digital planner free trial and the SPOT ebook and look into the assessments ! Thanks so much this has been helpful
Im Definitely a planner who over plans and regrettably sets us up to fail. I loved this blog. I’m not alone.
All of this information is super helpful. Im learning that structure is necessary especially with a high schooler now.
Thank you for helping so many find their way on the “home schooling journey”.
This is a great resource!
Right now I’m researching projects and themes for next year. It’s good to think ahead but still be flexible.
First time homeschool mom and we will be using Abeka Academy, fingers crossed everything goes well for us.
Definitely plan to make a plan. My girls personalities and learning styles are so different I have to do a lot of adapting
I have been homeschooling for 12 years. I have graduated 1, I currently have 3 high schoolers, a middle schooler and 3 elementary students. I am NOT a natural planner, even though I wanna be. This year we started year round school and I am working planning into our off time, it makes a huge difference. Thank you for this resource and sharing what you have gleaned over the years.
This is such great information. I homeschooled my three children and am now homeschooling my grandson.
I do love when the lessons are planned for me. I will put those into a planner as I organize the year. But I also do unit studies so there are plenty of subjects that need to be completely planned out by me. As long as I can get a good mix of both of these, it’s not so overwhelming.
This looks like it might help
me get more organized!
The suggestion to plan 6 weeks at a time is really helpful. I’m totally overwhelmed by planning.
Love having planners to help our day so I don’t stress out
This was a great encouragement to start our new year!
I like to make a general plan for the year, not super detailed but what I’d like to accomplish. Then I plan for the week the Friday prior, every week. Then I can work around our schedule and slow down or speed up as needed for each child. It works well for us!
I am really interested in this. I have a large family, and everything tends to end up haphazard. A lot of chaos to coordinate. I am looking forward to a nice reset for the New Year.