Cute fun planners with stickers and washi tape are all the rage and they have eeked over into the world of homeschool planners as well. I’m all about a pretty planner, but even more importantly, my planner has to work for me and help keep me organized as a homeschool mom. So I’m here today with seven things I keep in my homeschool planner — washi tape optional.

I keep my homeschool planner in a three-ring binder. I print out all my planning pages and put them in there. What else do I keep in this magical teacher notebook?

Well, I have seven things that I think are vitally important to keep in a homeschool planner.

Vision statement: the heart of the homeschool planner

The first thing that I keep in there is my homeschool vision. This is a vision statement that I have written and it’s all about what I would like education to look like in my homeschool.

What is the atmosphere of our homeschool? What kind of things do we prioritize? What are the things that we spend the most time on and what are the things that my husband and I really would like for our kids to know and accomplished before they leave our home?

All of those things go on my homeschool vision.  I print it out and I put it in that homeschool planner and then a few times during the year I review that vision and have a look at it again and make sure that we’re staying on track.

I especially review that vision before I make large homeschooling purchases or before I completely change my homeschool, because I want to be sure that the decisions that I’m making are aligned with the vision that we have for education in our home and they’re not just a knee jerk reaction to a homeschool day gone bad.

Goals are the to-do list of the homeschool plan

The second thing I like to keep in my homeschool planner are goals for each one of my kids. So at the beginning of a school year, I sit down and I think about the things that the kids need to focus on for this year. Sometimes they need to focus on something because it’s a place where they need a little extra help. Other times we want to focus on something because it’s an area where they have great interest or they’re showing a special talent. I write these things up as goals for my student.

I have three kids and we can’t focus on everything equally all the time. There are times where we have to spend a little more time working on math or we have to spend a little more time working on composition. By having goals for those things, we’re able to give each thing a little extra attention as it needs it. I write these down at the beginning of the year or the beginning of a term. I keep them in my binder, and I periodically look at those to make sure that we’re making the progress that we would like to make.

I suggest you write three to five goals per kids and don’t be afraid to include things like personal skills or social skills or learning to tie your shoes in your goals.

State requirements for homeschoolers — not public school students

The third thing I like to keep in my homeschool binder is a copy of my state’s requirements for homeschoolers to refer back to it if I need to.

Keep in mind that the homeschool requirements for a state sometimes do not match public school requirements and often officials or even other homeschoolers are not aware of this. Be sure you are only doing what is required of you and nothing more — especially if it doesn’t match the vision you have for your homeschool. 

Most of us homeschool because we have our own ideas of what education looks like. This is not less than the public schools — sometimes it is more. Usually, though, it is very different.

I keep these handy it in case someone tries to tell me something different. I can always refer back to it and say, oh no, this is what we need to do here. This keeps me from having to go online and look it up. I don’t use it very often, but I have it just in case I want to refer to it.

Letter of intent or other legal papers

The next thing I keep in the binder is a copy of my legal paperwork for homeschooling. Now once again, this is going to vary from state to state. I happen to have an enrollment form for my umbrella school that I keep in mine. In different states, you might have a letter of intent are some other form that you’ve submitted to a board of education.

I keep a copy of that form right there in my teacher binder, and I do it for a couple of reasons. First, if I ever needed it (and the likelihood that I would ever need it is very slim) I wouldn’t have to fumble for it. I would just very efficiently, very competently be able to open up that binder and produce it. That makes me feel really good as a homeschooling mom.

The other thing, I use this for are discounts. Many times when you go into a bookstore or a teacher store, they give discounts to homeschoolers. All you have to do is prove that you’re a homeschooler. That piece of paperwork is what I use for proof, so it’s nice to keep it handy.

Procedure lists live in my homeschool planner

All right, item number five that I keep in my homeschool planner is a procedure list. A procedure list is very simply a list of things that I want to do when I study particular subjects. I don’t make them for every subject that we study, but I do it for the ones that aren’t open and go or the subjects where I’ve kind of put together my own study from a set of resources. Having these procedure lists really, really helps eliminate decision fatigue in my homeschool. 

I absolutely love these. They keep me from having to think too hard in the day to day of homeschooling my kids with multiple kids, the dogs, the doorbell ringing, the washing machine, flooding and all the things that go on in my home. Find out more about how to create procedure lists here.

Homeschool schedules and calendars

The next thing I keep in there is a schedule for my school year. There are a number of different ways that you can schedule your homeschool year so be sure to choose something that works for your family. I like to choose the most flexible option for my family that I call magic number schooling.

One of the reasons that I do this is because we always are gung ho at the beginning of this school year, and we get way more days done then than we do at the end of the year. I’ve come to know that about us, and I plan for it in September and October. We bank those school days because in March and April we’re going to want to have them in our back pocket and take time off when the weather is nicer. Be sure to honor those natural rhythms of your school year.

A homeschool attendance tracker

The number seven that I like to keep in my homeschool binder is an attendance tracker. Every day I mark attendance and I use a particular form for this from our planning guide,  but honestly, any calendar would do. If you have a planer or just a calendar mark a little symbol in the corner of every day that you do school to keep track of your attendance.

Most states have some kind of attendance requirement for homeschoolers and want you to keep track of that attendance even if you never turn it in. I actually never submit attendance in my state, but I do keep track of it because I’m legally bound to do so, and I would have to produce it if someone ever asked me to produce it.

Having said that, we humans are learning all the time. There are all sorts of life experiences that you do that you can count as a school day. Be sure to record those life experiences as well. School is not just what you do when you’re sitting at a desk or sitting at the kitchen table, but do keep track so you can be in compliance with any laws that are in your state.

Those are seven things that I keep in my homeschool planner or my teacher binder. Be sure to let me know what I left out. What very important things do you keep in your homeschool planner that I didn’t talk about today. Put them down in the comments so we can learn from each other. And if you have any questions, you can put those below as well. 

And to get your homeschool planner started, be sure to download our free homeschool planning pages.

Free Homeschool Planner

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.
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