Despite my relaxed ways in the past I have always started each homeschool year with somewhat of a plan of action. I usually had topics that I wanted to study and curriculum that I had purchased and was ready to put into practice. At times I would plan out bits of our days in fits and starts — a few weeks here and a few weeks there. Once I had a plan in place, we would charge forward, often accomplishing much and feeling successful until the plan ran out.
Looking back I can see that the running-out-of-plan-places were the places where I would often switch course in a year and search for something else to do. Sometimes this was done with good reason (the boring history selection from last year), but my confidence was also most vulnerable during those down times when the plan ran out.
At the very worst, I was driving our schooling in a way that was inconsistent — goals, expectations, and practices were seldom thought out. That is my number one goal for this year; I want to be consistent and move us forward at the pace that is right for us. These kids are pretty bright (and I am not saying that just because I am their mother). They deserve the opportunity to learn to their potential.
So with that in mind, this summer it became important to me to formulate a plan of action for the entire school year and prepare in advance to implement that plan. While it is not crisis-proof by any means, nor is it so stringent that it would impede a rabbit trail or two that comes along, once finished it will be solid enough that we can make forward progress through the year with us having to stop and wait for mom to work out what we are going to do next.
I am pretty proud of that.
So this is the nuts and bolts of what I did. My go-to posts on this process can be found at Real Mom Resources. They are Chelli’s three planning posts from The Planted Trees (links 1, 2 and 3). While I didn’t follow her process exactly, those were the backbone of my process, and I thank her for taking the time to write it all out. I love how homeschoolers share with one another.
I started by looking a the school year. I wanted to follow the flexible model of schooling. If there is a beautiful week in October when it makes more sense to spend three days in the park than three days at the table doing math, then I want the flexibility to do that. So I figured the number of days I wanted us to school (170) and divided by the number of months we would be schooling (10 — I took out two months for summer). This determined that we need to school an average of 17 days per month to meet that goal. That leaves plenty of time for holidays and days off.
Feeling good, next I listed out the subjects I wanted to cover this year. I made one list for Olivia, one for John, and one for us to do together. (You can see what these lists entail on the curriculum page.) It was pretty simple then for me to look at those lists and devise a weekly schedule — what we were going to do on each day. Like Chelli, I used the planning forms from Simply Charlotte Mason.