Most days I feel like my brain is a sieve. Can anyone else relate?

It is full, absolutely full to the brim, and I am hustling like crazy to plug all the little holes and keep everything from running out of it.

How homeschool moms can worry less and do more my brain

Remember to pay the bills.

Remember to make the dental appointment (I have a referral for my son to get a tooth pulled. It is dated 2-5-18 and that appointment is still not made.)

Remember to give the dogs their heartworm medication.

Switch the laundry before it sours. Stir the chili before it burns. Read to the kids before they grow up and leave forever. *sniff*

Read more or listen here:

So when I say that I take the time to sit and plan my out my homeschool year (yes, the entire year) in the summer, I am not saying that to brag or show my superior organizing skills.

Yes, I admit to being a checklist mom, but honestly, I do this because it is the only thing that saves my sanity during the school year.

Without a plan, school would simply not get done. And that’s not a good thing when homeschooling is how you educate your children.Free Homeschool Planner

What does year-long homeschool planning look like?

I resorted to planning my entire school year in the summer as an act of desperation when my husband was deployed. I honestly can’t remember how long it took me to create the first plan way back when, but I would imagine if all the hours were totaled it would be somewhere around 20 hours.

The good news is, since I have used the same process over the past six years, I have shortened that planning time considerably. I can plan a year (depending on curriculum changes) in under 10 hours now. The process has become second-nature, and I simply reuse so much of last year’s plan.

You likely have heard the old adage about eating an elephant? It totally holds true in this situation. If you take one little bite at a time then at some point you will turn around and that sucker will be done.

Here are my homeschool plan bites:

First, I set a vision and some goals for my homeschool. It is tempting to skip these steps, but it is crucial. Not so you have a pretty, completed form in your teacher’s binder with unattainable aspirations but so you have a compass to guide the rest of your choices as you make your plan.

How a homeschool mom can worry less and do more

After these two steps I get to do a little research and shopping. This is the fun part, but honestly it can also be the biggest time suck of all the steps. I try to work in small chunks and use a timer to keep myself focused as I work.

Once the curriculum is on the way to my house, I grab my pencil and big eraser and map out our schedules for the year, week, and days. Since I refuse to back myself into a corner, my schedules are of the flexible variety. Some would ask why I bother doing this step if what I want is flexibility. Yea, flexibility — not chaos. Having a flexible plan in place means way more gets done than if there was no plan at all.

It reminds me of my favorite Brandy Vencel quote ever:

“We have no control over the bad days in our homeschools, but we have a lot of control over what normal looks like.”

'We have no control over the bad days in our homeschools, but we have a lot of control over what normal looks like.'Click To Tweet

Scheduling is fun because I get to pull out nifty tools like blocks, loops, and magic numbers. If those terms aren’t part of your scheduling vocabulary you might just be missing out on some of the best parts of homeschooling. 😉

The next step in the process is to get down to the nitty-gritty of lesson planning. I threw away to teacher lesson plan book years ago (please tell me you aren’t still using one of those) and instead use the more flexible list to create my plans.

In fact I use multiple types of list. We have the procedure list, the lesson plan list, and the spiral notebook list.

Why so many lists? What I love about lists is that they are non-judgmental. They aren’t a rigid grid assigned with a date that mocks you mercilessly when you get “behind,” but instead a patient friend who waits for you to be ready to pick up where you left off.

Once the “lesson plans” are made then I can get organized (not decorate — there IS a difference) and then visualize my day. (This step might be the most important part of the entire planning process!)

How a homeschool mom can worry less and do more art

Can you do it too?

Does having your entire year mapped out sound appealing?

Especially if — when those little things happen to get you further and further off track (because you know they will) — the plan is waiting for you when you get back to pick up where you left off.

Especially if — you can following a three-week rabbit trail on Sacajawea or atoms and molecules — and the plan is waiting for you when you get back to pick up where you left off.

Especially if — you can take an unplanned break for morning sickness — and the plan is waiting for you when you get back to pick up where you left off.

Now how does it sound?

I’ll be back next week with more tips and a free gift to help you in your own planning this year. Sign up for the free planning pages and get on the email list so you don’t miss it.

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Pam Barnhill

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
Pam Barnhill

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