Does the thought of developing a new homeschool plan form a pit in your stomach? We get it. Homeschool planning can seem like an overwhelming endeavor—especially if you’re not sure where to start. We want you to feel confident as you embark on your homeschool journey. So, we’ve compiled some helpful insights to make your planning process more simple and stress-free. Keep reading to learn more!
7 Practical Steps for Homeschool Planning
Homeschool planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are seven steps to help you create a solid homeschool plan for the upcoming school year.
1) Create a Mission Statement
Before you dive deep into creating an entire homeschool plan, we encourage you to reflect on the reason you chose homeschooling for your family. From there, you should develop a mission statement, which is a long-term overarching vision for your homeschooling journey. This statement should be rooted in your key values and apply to everyone involved. For example: “To instill creativity, curiosity, and a love of learning through meaningful educational experiences both at home and in the world.”
2) Set Student Goals
Now that you’ve established your “why” for homeschooling, you can move on to setting goals for each student. Goals are more specific, measurable, and time-bound objectives that you want your students to accomplish in the year ahead. It’s easy to become overly ambitious when homeschool planning. Having goals will help you prioritize your lessons and keep your students on the right track. Here are a few quick tips for successful goal-setting:
- Focus on each child’s individual strengths, weaknesses, and interests
- Pick no more than three goals to pursue (too many can get overwhelming)
- Be sure to track progress and revisit goals on a regular basis
Knowing your goals will help you with the next phase of homeschool planning—selecting subjects.
3) Choose Your Subjects
Once you have your goals in mind for each student, you’re ready to choose which subjects to focus on this year. While this may be dictated by the homeschooling laws in your state, there’s usually some room for discretion. Using your state’s regulations and your goals as a guide, write down a list of the subjects you plan to teach each student.
4) Select School Materials
The next step in the homeschool planning process is deciding what educational materials you’re going to use. Before you opt for the first curriculum a fellow homeschooler recommends, though, be sure to consider your mission statement, homeschool style, and current way of life. Having these in mind will help you find the best fit for your family.
Here are some questions to consider before settling on any school materials:
- Would you prefer a prepackaged, “open-and-go” curriculum from a single publisher?
- Will you find free resources from the internet or library, or adopt an eclectic approach?
- Are there outside opportunities, such as a co-op, online class, or college dual-enrollment that would be beneficial for your student(s)?
Remember: you don’t have to stick with any materials you choose. If you feel that a certain curriculum doesn’t meet your student’s needs, feel free to switch to something else at any point during the school year! We also suggest choosing flexible curricula so that you can modify the materials however you see fit.
5) Organize Your Supplies
One of the biggest hindrances to a smooth-running school day is having to waste time looking for necessary supplies. The key to avoiding this? Have a specific spot where all of your school materials are neatly organized.
We encourage you to pick a place in your home that can be the designated “school supply area.” This can be an office space, closet, or even just a corner of the dining room. Then, get a shelf and storage bin for each student so they can easily grab their materials at the start of each day and return them once finished.
6) Develop a Schedule
Creating a schedule is another key aspect of homeschool planning. This ensures that you stay on track and maintain consistency throughout the year. There are a number of questions that you should ask yourself while developing your schedule, including:
- Do you plan on homeschooling year-round, following a traditional academic year, or doing something else entirely?
- How many days will you be schooling each week? Five days? Four?
- How many hours do you want to spend doing school work each day?
- Will you be teaching all subjects each day or adopting a loop schedule?
Keep in mind any important obligations, like extracurricular activities or jobs, when establishing your homeschool schedule.
7) Embrace Spontaneity
One of the greatest gifts that homeschooling offers is the flexibility to adjust your schedule as you wish. That said, it’s helpful to plan for spontaneity by allocating some breaks in your homeschool plan. Last-minute opportunity for a trip? Go for it! Kids feeling burnt out? Play some hooky and get back into schooling tomorrow—or even next week!
If you plan ahead for those spontaneous scenarios, it will allow you the freedom to enjoy some time off or handle unexpected life events without school-related stress.
Homeschool Planning: What to Prioritize
Are you still feeling a bit anxious about all the steps you need to complete? Good news! Your homeschool plan doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out before you can get started. Of course, your goals should be planned before the start of the school year, but you don’t have to get too hung up on this. They’re not written in stone, and therefore can be adjusted as circumstances change.
Having your subject and curriculum plan in advance is also ideal, as it gives you time to become comfortable with your materials. On the other hand, one of the main benefits of homeschooling is having the ability to add or change subjects and curriculum during the school year. So, if you haven’t found that perfect writing program yet, just wait and add that subject in a bit later rather than make an impulsive decision.
As far as when actual lesson planning should occur, that’s up to you. While it isn’t necessary to plan all of your lessons for the year in advance (as things will undoubtedly change), having a rough idea of what you want to cover at certain points throughout the year can be helpful. We suggest doing the actual lesson planning one week in advance. That way, you can easily make adjustments based on appointments, field trips, extracurriculars, and so on.
Don’t let homeschool planning be a source of anxiety. Take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. You’ve got this!
If you’d like some additional advice about creating an effective homeschool plan, watch this episode of The Demme Learning Show.
This blog was originally published on September 2, 2021 and updated on March 8, 2023.