Planning for homeschool takes thought, intention, and a little future-forward thinking. It also doesn’t always look as good in real life as it does on paper in July or August. Once you are in the thick of teaching your actual, real kids, you might have a few roadblocks or you might have to abandon the plan in some way. Maybe that’s not, but it’s good to be flexible.

Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks that may help as you face the challenges of parenting and planning for homeschool fun — not to mention covering the coursework your child needs!

Planning for homeschool needs to be flexible.

When you purchased your curriculum or got excited about the possibilities of what you could do together as a family, it may have been reaching beyond what you, your children, or your family’s schedule allows. But that’s okay; learning and being flexible is part of the process.

As you plan for the next week or two, think ahead about what might sap your energy, distract your child’s focus, and feel overwhelming. It may be that you have family visiting from out of town. Or perhaps your dog needs to go to the vet and your husband has an evening work meeting.

Maybe you’re hosting your church small group one evening. This is probably not the best week you want to attempt a field trip or try to learn a complex concept that will require extra preparation.

Our best tips for a week when you need a breather?

  • Spend time reviewing: math facts, comprehension discussions, and science or weather terms.
  • Go outside more often. Take your kids outside for a picnic, talk to them about the book you’re reading, and find out what they like and do not like about it.
  • Have a folder with on-the-go materials. These don’t need to be related to your current pacing. They can be last year’s math facts, reviewing the parts of speech, or identifying main idea and/or classifying animal biomes in science.
  • Get your older children to teach or review with your younger children. Have a 5th-grader who knows his or her multiplication facts well? Let him or her review with your 3rd grader. Make sure to instruct him to have fun, be patient, and not to act like a know-it-all. (Yes, we have kids too!)

Planning for homeschool should be simple.

Here’s a pro tip: If you are spending all day Saturday, every Saturday, planning and preparing for next week’s lessons, you are doing too much. We want to save your sanity so that you can stick with schooling at home for the long game.

How do you cut back when your child (and you) have high expectations for schooling at home?

  1. Choose one “fun” or slightly over-the-top idea to do each week. It might be a craft for your first grader and a diorama assignment for your fourth grader. That’s enough for one week.
  2. Remember that some concepts just need to be reviewed regularly, in multiple modalities, in order for your child to grasp them. It may mean that YOU get bored of reviewing multiplication facts, but your child really does need repetition. Think about multiple ways you can review this week. Some of our ideas include sidewalk chalk on the driveway, having your child use a multiplication chart to make his own flashcards, jumping rope while practicing one number’s tables (e.g. 2 x 1, 2 x 2, etc.), and letting your child teach you or his or her stuffed animals by “playing” school.
  3. Stretch what looks to be a longer lesson into multiple days. If you’re supposed to be covering all of the active voice verbs in grammar this week, focus on bookwork for two days and then do an active review for two days. It’s the same concept over and over, but your kids will have it cemented much more than if they move too quickly through the book.

Planning for homeschool needs a realistic pace and sequence.

If you aren’t familiar with the terms “scope” and “sequence,” we assure you it’s important. Otherwise, you might finish the book in social studies and wonder what to do for March through May. Or you might get halfway through the math curriculum and wonder next year why math is so tough for your seventh grader.

Scope is a term that describes how much content you (the teacher) will cover with your child in a specific subject. And sequence identifies the order in which you will cover that content. Combined, these two provide a big-picture road map of where you are at the beginning of, say, first grade, and where you want your child to be at the end of the first-grade school year.

If your scope and sequence are too haphazard, you will very likely miss important concepts that your child needs to learn. On the other hand, if your scope and sequence are out of order or are too fast-paced, you and your child might be frustrated by the learning process.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is to help your child love the process of learning. Trying to follow a scope and sequence set by your curriculum company might be too rigid for you and your child. However, jumping around to cover only what your child enjoys is probably going to be too loose.

Do some research about how to plan for your school year. Yes, even now. It is not too late. It is better to course correct and get scope and sequence right in October than to limp along for the entire school year.

Planning for homeschool can and should be personalized.

What’s the point of teaching your child at home if you can’t personalize it to his or her strengths and interests? So your planning should reflect more than just your curriculum and its resources. Think outside the box. What are some ways your child can learn what’s needed through a medium he enjoys?

If your son loves video games, can he design his own math-fact video game using a free online resource such as Scratch? And maybe your daughter enjoys fashion. What if you chose The Hundred Dresses as one of your child’s books this year and let her pair it with a fashion-related project that reflects the themes of the book?

There are so many ways you can cover what’s in the scope and sequence and make it fun for your child. But keep in mind that you need to still be able to parent well, have time for yourself, and be able to engage with your spouse too.

If you’ve found that planning for homeschool is taking up more time than you’d care to devote…

If you find that you are always second-guessing whether you are doing too much or not enough…

We have a solution that can help! Our Learnwell Navigator program is designed to take the most burdensome parts of homeschooling off your plate; we partner with parents so that you can enjoy homeschooling more!

Find out more here.