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Want to know the core secret to a successful homeschooling day?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of “on the fly” moments. I’m not one of those people that can’t stretch a finger past a schedule, so before you think I’m tight laced, THINK AGAIN.
I’ve had many homeschool days that didn’t go as planned, and worked out well, with random spur of the moment lessons. However, my best homeschool days have always stemmed from a well planned morning. And by well-planned, I simply mean that there are goals, I know what I want to teach (and how I want to teach it), and I have everything printed that needs to be, ready to go. I’m not fumbling around, trying to piece together a half-ass lesson because I waited until the last minute (this has happened too).
And a well-planned day? That takes time. Time at the table with a stack of books, event flyers, my planner, and my noggin, penciling (always pencil!) in dates, lessons, and commitments.
At the beginning of our homeschool journey, I would only plan one week at a time. Sunday night would be spent at my computer, printing worksheets for the week and piecing curriculum together like a patchwork quilt.
The drawback to this method is that you are stuck in a constant cycle of planning. It feels like it just never ends. By scheduling one month at a time, however, you can stay on track while enjoying a break from planning and printing worksheets. It gives your mama brain a much needed rest! Bulk scheduling gives you the consistency and the breather you need from overthinking your homeschooling day.
Now that we are in year 6, I can make schedules faster, and I plan one month at a time. If you are just starting, this may feel difficult at first. However, young homeschooler, as a Jedi master, teach you I must.
How to Plan Your Homeschool Schedule One Month at a Time
This, so far, has been my favorite way to plan. While I’ve tried to do this all in one go, I find that my brain turns to mush after a couple of hours. SO, I highly recommend that you break this up over the course of a few days. I know, I know…it’s time. BUT, you’ll be planning either way, so do you want to do it the stressful way or the relaxed way?
I spend the last week of the month planning for the next round of lessons. I do about 30 minutes a day, and it really helps spread it out, making it more easy to tackle when I do sit down with my planner. And then I can chill for three weeks!
1. To schedule with success, first you need a good planner. One that fits your needs.
Well, what are your needs? That depends on a number of things- how many kids are you teaching, what is your homeschool approach (secular, religious, waldorf, etc.), and personal preference. For me, I need plenty of color with lots of blank space to write in (don’t write it for me, just let me do it lol).
That’s why this year, I used the Bloom Planner and I LOVE it. It gives me the layout I prefer, with days of the week moving from left to right (versus top to bottom). It’s colorful, has inspiring quotes sprinkled throughout, and supplies me with plenty of room to pencil in activities. Probably one of my favorite parts is that it gives you monthly goal setting and reflection space. My only critique is that I wish the monthly calendars were spread out throughout the planner, instead of bunched up in the front. However, this is one of the best planners I’ve seen that can be used for homeschooling!
2. Now that you have a good planner, we need to get an overall view (and feel) of the month. If you are using the Bloom Planner, flip to the month of choice at the front. Alternatively, you can print out a calendar for this part, or use your wall calendar if you prefer. Whatever works. Personally, I like having all my homeschool plans in one place.
As I said before, one thing I like about this planner is that there is a goal setting page and a reflection page for each month of the year. I like to start by filling in my thoughts for the previous month– what worked, what didn’t, and what I’ll improve on as a teacher.
After that, I write in my goals for the following month– our focus and a few basic goals. This really doesn’t have to be too detailed, but it allows you to collect your thoughts and set an intention for the days ahead.
Then, I turn to the monthly calendar and I start filling in all of our commitments, errands, holidays, and special occasions. This is not where I like to add daily lessons. I simply fill in important things to remember, so that I can reference it later, when I create our daily schedule.
I also like to add doodles to this calendar. It makes the month seem more fun and less stressful. If you’ve never doodled on your calendar, TRY IT! This doesn’t need to be perfect whatsoever. What to doodle? If there’s a birthday, draw a cupcake. Going to the grocery store? Add a little cart or basket. Seriously, this makes this process SO MUCH BETTER. It’s a way for you to get creative while doing something meaningful.
Here’s an example of how I used doodling to add an element of fun to my schedule:
Now take a break!
3. Next, I flip to the weekly planner. We will be scheduling for 4-5 weeks, depending on the month. Which brings me to the question- how many children are you homeschooling? I like to see everyone’s lessons on one page, so I know what needs to be tackled for the day.
I begin by adding the dates, followed by filling in names for the separate “to-do’s” for the week. There’s my daughters’ schedule (which includes anchor and group lessons), my son’s schedule, my schedule, and household chores make the list too. Ideally, each child should have his/her own square for their anchor lessons.
Then I start adding all the basic activities that we do consistently, 3-5 times a week. I call these our anchor lessons. For us, these are things like math, journal time, spelling/vocabulary, music, and family reading. Using my monthly calendar I filled out earlier, I add in any commitments or occasions to the schedule too, such as play dates or grocery trips. Chores also make the list, and I scribble down whatever needs to be done, like laundry, the litter box, and dish duty.
Spend 30 minutes going through your month and writing all of this down. Look at it as the foundation for your main lessons.
Now take a break!
4. Now that we are refreshed, and we have our basic skeleton of the month ahead, we can weave in our main lessons. I prefer to use block scheduling, and we focus on one main lesson (topic) a month. There are many benefits to using block scheduling, one of them being that it makes scheduling easier. You can place all your attention on the topic at hand, instead of spread out thin over a variety of curriculum and subjects.
This is where the hard work comes in. Scheduling the main lesson may take me a while! Before I even sit down with my planner, I’ve already been brainstorming about what topic we are doing, talked to the kids about their level of interest (and input), and gathered a few resources. When I’m ready to pencil it all in, I grab my planner, any books I may have picked up along the way, and my phone (you never know when you’ll need to do a quick pinterest search).
I begin by flipping through my books and bookmarking pages for later reference. If I want to remember to read pages 100-112 on Tuesday, I write that in. If I want to pair that with a worksheet I found online, I write that in too. If I need to prep or make sure I have materials for an activity on Thursday, I make a note for Wednesday. If I want the girls to write a report using said book, that also goes on the list (as well as when it’s due).
The bulk of your time scheduling needs to be here. It may take a day or two, which is totally fine! This is what is making the homeschool day enriched, so don’t slack. There’s nothing worse than waking up and realizing that your schedule is a bust because you didn’t take the extra time.
I like to make sure that I incorporate plenty of reading, as well as a couple fun projects for the month. Anything you can tie into the main lesson, write it down!
Now take a break!
5. The last thing you need to do is make sure you have ALL of your worksheets printed out and ready to go for the month. I can tell you from personal experience, it is a huge time waster to print out your worksheets as you go along. By planning and printing in bulk, you can literally enjoy the month and not sweat it when it comes to being prepared.
I’m super serious about this one ladies. I spend atleast 30 minutes at the printer, scanning and printing my kids lessons. You may be asking yourself, why do this at all? Why not just give them workbooks and call it a day?
Well, that depends on what you want to do with your workbooks afterwards. For low-cost workbooks, such as Wordly Wise, I buy double for the twins and let them go at it. It saves time and it’s not a big loss.
But, for big ticket curriculum (anything Oak Meadow for example), I can reuse it for my son or resell it. Don’t kill your chance to use your expensive curriculum for another child or make some money off of it. If you sell it at the right time, depending on what it is (and the condition it’s in), you can make up to 75% of the original price. Seriously!
Once I’ve printed out everything I need, I divide it by week/subject and place it in this lovely expanded pocket folder.
Congrats! You Have One Month Planned!
Woo hoo! We did it!
Scheduling doesn’t have to be horrible. I know that this takes time, but, if you are serious about homeschooling, you’ll see the value in planning. After all, if we can’t take our day seriously, why should our kids? Set a good example and be prepared with your homescholing day. You will be doing your kids a great service!
And of course, if you need a little guidance or encouragement, make sure to check out my personalized Magical Homeschooling Help.
How do you like to plan your day? Share in the comments below!