Planning Your Homeschool Year In Just 5 Easy Steps

If the idea of planning your homeschool year has you overwhelmed, frustrated, and ready to call the local public school, let’s pause, put down the phone, and learn the secrets to easily planning your homeschool year – with confidence!

Planning Your Homeschool Year in 5 Easy Steps

Like It Or Not, Homeschool Planning Has To Happen

Whether you are a year-round homeschooler or one who prefers to opt for a summer break, June is here and that means it’s time to start thinking about fall and planning your homeschool year.

For years I found the process too overwhelming and often I would scramble come August or September to find what we needed. The first day of school arrived, and on more than one occasion, we didn’t even have the core items we needed. 

This led to chaos, confusion, and stress. And none of it was necessary

Yet, all trials can lead to learning and growth. And it was these years of planning paralysis that led me to learn what worked, what didn’t work, and what didn’t matter as much as I thought it did. 

And while summer may be on the horizon, now is the perfect time to get the planning done for the next homeschool year, without all of the overwhelm or stress, so you can enjoy some of that summer sunshine before it disappears. 

Getting Off The Homeschool Planning Roller Coaster

For years I rode the homeschool planning roller coaster. Always scrambling and screaming, I thought I had to have everything line up nice and neatly. 

The problem? 

I don’t like to deviate from my own plans! Once it’s written down, whether on paper or in a digital planner, it may as well be set in stone because there is no going back, no changing, and no adapting because life happens. 

My own rigidity led to our downfall and in an act of sheer desperation, I quit planning our homeschool for two complete school years! This homeschool Hail Mary act was born out of a place of hopelessness as I looked around and saw the misery that my Pinterest-perfect planning was creating. 

Yet it was in that barren wasteland of planning anarchy that I finally cultivated a planning system that would allow us to hit all of the state-required homeschooling items while also allowing for the freedom our homeschool desperately needed. 

Covering The Basics of Homeschool Planning

As a homeschool mom with four kids ranging from early elementary through upper high school, I have a lot of different educational balls in the air. 

Yet at the end of the day, I know that we need to all cover the same basics. So for ease of planning and scheduling your year, let’s start there

What are the basics? For us that includes items such as math, science, language arts, and history. These are our non-optional items that are both state-required and mommy required. 😉

And while all of the companies we work with for these core subjects offer us a well-meaning scope and sequence, I have learned to ditch them. 

It’s not that the information contained in them is bad or wrong… it’s just that they don’t work for our homeschool. We aren’t going to complete each of these core subjects every single day for 180 school days. 

And we may not even have 45-minutes to an hour every day to work on them. 

So while they may be helpful, I have learned that they simply create undue stress in our homeschool and anything that is burdensome needs to go. 

Making Time For Fun and Interest-Based Learning

After identifying the core programs, we then move on to the fun stuff – electives!

This is everything ranging from small engine repair to art, learning to play an instrument to sports. 

These are the items that cover requirements you may have for fine arts or physical education as well as the interest-based learning that you know you want to cover. 

Some of these can be crossed over and overlap with a core subject, others cannot. 

And, depending on the age of your students, these may be done independently.

A Note on High School Planning

As a homeschool mom with two students in high school, this one can trip some parents up. With things like transcripts, state requirements for graduation, and even post-high school requirements to meet, many homeschool parents feel extremely overwhelmed when planning out this category. 

I used to be one of them

Today, I find it to be as simple as keeping a running sheet that has graduation requirements and credits earned right in my planner. It’s an easy-to-see visual of what we have done, what we are doing, and what still needs to be completed. 

And, it can easily be updated, changed, or adapted as post-graduation ideas evolve. 

But how, right? How does a busy homeschool mom this over-simplified post and turn it into stress-free and easy planning that can be completed quickly, will keep the school year on track, and leave enough room for snow days, sick days, and another other reason for taking a day off?

Where does relaxed planning and scheduling intersect with homeschool rules and regulations??

And, honestly, does such a thing exist?

This, my friend, is where you get busy. This is where you find your favorite homeschool planner – whether print or digital – and start doing the work of creating a planned homeschool year that will keep you on track and allow you the freedom to take the scenic route. 

5 Simple Steps To Homeschool Planning Success

Now that you have considered all of the courses, programs, and learning adventures you and your child will take in the next homeschool year, it’s time to get busy doing the work of planning a flexible homeschool year.

And using my 5 simple steps, you can easily plan your homeschool year in just a single weekend! 

  1. Identify the core curriculum and resources for each child. Determine which programs are going to be taught together, which are going to be teacher-led independent courses, and which are going to be student-led independent ones. 
  2. Identify the elective programs, courses, and resources for each child. Decide if they are going to be teacher-led or student-led. 
  3. Grab a calendar and look at your school year. Identify your start date and end date (whether you take a summer vacation or school year-round). Block off common vacations, breaks, or days off. 
  4. For every course you are using, find 80% completion.
  5. For each full month you are homeschooling, assign 10% of the course to that month. And for months where you take time off, reduce that percentage accordingly.

Homeschool Planning Can Really Be That Simple

So there you have it. Five super simple steps to planning your homeschool year.

But I’m sure there are still some questions burning in your mind like why only 80%? Why 10? And what about life or falling behind??

I get it. 

The goal of planning your homeschool year in just a day or two is not to corner yourself into an unachievable goal. 

And it’s not about boxing yourself into a schedule that leaves everyone up well into the night working on lessons or grading papers. 

The goal of this planning method is to allow you to create a framework that you can use throughout the year. 

By breaking down a 10-unit course into 8 units, you can see how you can start school in September, complete a unit each month, and still take December off… and be done with 80% of that program by May! 

And by taking a 180-lesson program, slicing it down to just 144 lessons means you have plenty of days to take field trips, head to your favorite museum, or take an afternoon to watch the movie version of a book you just read. 

This is not saying that your student can’t complete the entire program or curriculum. If time allows, encourage your child to keep working even past the completion percentage. Or, pick up the following year where you left off. 

And, lastly, you can always work the final 20% at a leisurely pace over the summer to help avoid the summer-slump.

Is Planning For Only 80% Really Enough?

It is. 

75-80% completion is the common number used when calculating high school credit and the one we apply to programs in our homeschool for all grades. I opt for 80% simply because it’s an easier number to apply on a monthly basis.

Plan Your Homeschool Year Quickly and Efficiently

Whether this is your first year planning a full homeschool year or you are a seasoned homeschool mom who is simply looking to put an end to the frequent frustrations and failures of years past, this homeschool planning method is one that works time and time again. 

It allows you to get off the planning struggle bus, keep your kids off the public school bus, and accommodate both the structure you homeschool need with the freedom that homeschooling offers. 

By utilizing this low-key approach to homeschooling, you can plan your homeschool year quickly and efficiently, and free up the rest of your summer for fun and family time.

Kelly Warner

About the author

Kelly Warner is a homeschooling mama who lives in Maine with her husband and their four children, the oldest of whom is a homeschool graduate. She is a veteran homeschooler who is passionate about helping homeschooling simplify their life and find hope in the chaos that often comes along with raising a family. You can follow Kelly online at her website, Hope In The Chaos, or on social media.

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