Planning for homeschool can bring up a mixed bag of emotions. Let us help.
If you are a planner by nature, planning for homeschool may give you all the good feelings: excitement, joy, and triumph.
On the other hand, the non-planners among us may
- Dread planning the school year
- Feel overwhelmed
- Have trouble getting started
- Experience self-doubt
So how do you know…
- If you are planning enough?
- If you should be planning ahead more (or less)?
- What your school day should look like?
- Whether or not to take advantage of a hybrid school?
- If there is a local co-op you want to participate in?
- If your children need a teacher other than you for specific subjects?
- What you want your weekly rhythms to be?
- What you want your child(ren) to have learned at the end of a quarter, a semester, and a school year?
These are the kinds of questions than can drive a homeschooling parent a little bit nuts — and that’s before the homeschooling even starts!
Our refreshing way to kick off homeschool planning may surprise you. We think it will give you freedom, tools, and permission to homeschool in a way that works best for you and your kids.
Freedom in Planning Your Homeschool Journey
1. The first step to joyful homeschooling is actually not a step at all. It’s to remind yourself that you have freedom. After all, isn’t that why you chose this model?
Most parents who choose to homeschool do so because they want some form of freedom for their families. Maybe you want the freedom to teach when you want, what you want. Maybe you just want the freedom to take a trip whenever it’s convenient for you and not when it coincides with a school break.
Remembering your WHY is connected to remembering that you have freedom. You can choose what you teach and why you teach it. You can choose how your day is structured, or unstructured. While we recommend that all students have some form of structure, it can be loose or tight, depending on what works for you and your children.
2. You have the freedom to be you. It’s easy to get lost in comparing your homeschool journey to another family you know. There is always going to be a homeschool mom who is doing more, doing less, traveling more, feeling less or more stressed, etc. You get the picture, right? Please don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. It is your journey.
Tools to Gather When Planning for Homeschool
3. When considering the tools you’ll use, less is more. We recommend finding your state standards for education. This is usually found on the Department of Education website for your state. This doesn’t mean you have to follow the standards, but it’s a good overall guide to help you get started.
4. Next, we recommend a journal. Yes, a journal. This is where you will write down what you value. It may not change from year to year, but it is an important reminder of why you started the homeschool journey. For example, you might have chosen to homeschool because your family travels a lot or because you have a child whose needs differ from what a standard education can provide. Ask yourself a few questions to get this going.
- Is it important that you teach your children conflict resolution skills?
- Did you decide to homeschool because you want to incorporate your faith into what your children learn?
- Are you a parent who wants to be hands-on with your child, going to museums, crafting art projects, and getting outside often?
- Do you feel strongly about certain books your children need to have read by the time they finish high school?
- Will this journey help your family gain flexibility so that you can work and homeschool?
The bottom line is to review why you’re doing this. Write out 4-5 reasons you want to homeschool.
5. Finally, the tool we recommend is a research day. We are limiting this to one day for a specific purpose. When you spend more than one day researching curriculum options and homeschool methods, it can cause your brain to spin in multiple directions. Whether you have homeschooled for years, or you are new, starting a homeschool planning session with a spinning brain isn’t advisable. Keep this session to a minimum. Look around at options, take a few notes in your journal about what you like and think is important for specific subjects, and move on. (You can always purchase curriculum later, but having a one-day research rule helps you set a budget, know what’s important to you, and figure out if a specific text is right for your child.)
Permission in Planning for Homeschool
6. Your final “step” is to give yourself permission to be not just on the priorities list, but at the top of it. If you don’t make room for your own personality and preferences, you will not enjoy the homeschooling journey.
Likewise, if you don’t allow time for regular reflection throughout the school year, small obstacles can become major roadblocks. So, right now, get out your calendar and pinpoint four different dates in the school year where you will review what you’ve done in your homeschool journey, how well it’s working, and what might need to change. It’s helpful to consider the following questions:
- Are there things we tried that did not work for one or more of my children? How can we solve these issues?
- Is my child struggling in one subject area more than the rest?
- Is there any area where my child would benefit from going deeper?
- Are our family rhythms working well with our homeschool schedule? If not, what needs to change: the rhythms or the schedule?
- Are meal times working well? Why or why not?
- What opportunities do we have for our entire family to learn together? Are we making the most of these? Do we need fewer of these and more concentrated attention for each child?
- Do we need more flexibility in our homeschool routines?
This doesn’t just apply to your kids’ educational needs either. It also means asking yourself these questions:
- Have I found this semester/term/six weeks enjoyable? Why or why not?
- Do I find that I am stressed during the day or able to enjoy the process? (If stressed, dig deeper. What is at the root of the stress? Fear? Lack of confidence? Frustration? Your children’s changing needs?)
- Are we in a season of life that has changed since we started this journey? (Have you gotten a job? Has your family relocated? Are you managing a family member’s chronic illness? Do you have aging parents?)
- What time do I have set aside that is just for me? (This includes hobbies, meeting with friends, and non-homeschool planning time. It does not include homeschool-related tasks, grocery shopping or meal prep.)
Consider this your final permission slip: Ask for help when you need it. Even if you set out to homeschool 100%, just be open to reaching out when you feel overwhelmed, lost, or tired. Whether you seek the help of a hybrid school like Learnwell or you ask your mother-in-law to watch the kids one day a month, take care of yourself. Self-care makes a huge difference in your attitude, and that transfers to your child.