Are you going to homeschool but are not sure how to plan your year? This post is for you!
You might be asking these questions:
- Which subjects should be taught?
- Do I need to buy curriculum?
- How will I homeschool with multiple grade levels?
Let me show you how painless it can be to make a complete overview plan for your year (even with multiple kids).
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. I will receive a commission if you purchase from these links. Thank you.
WHAT IS YOUR STYLE?
You do need to ask this question first, because it will help you make decisions about curriculum and subjects later. If you are new to homeschooling, you might not be familiar with the different ways families choose to educate their kids.
To make you aware of the different options, you can download a free pdf HERE that lists out multiple homeschool styles, characteristics of each style, and includes clickable links to curriculum providers.
When choosing your homeschooling style, take into account your ability to pull resources together (or not), the time you want to put into it, your budget, your personality, the way your kids learn best, and your kids’ personality (especially in how they respond to expectations.)
Use your inclination toward a style or two to help guide your choices, but realize that you’re not locked in to that choice. If it doesn’t resonate with you after you’ve tried it, try another style on for size.
It might be helpful for you to know that our family’s style is eclectic, with a mix of classical, textbook, and unit studies.
PLANNING ON PAPER
Create a simple spreadsheet online or on paper.
You should include these two headings:
Start listing out essential courses down one side of your paper. I started with the non-negotiables first (math and language arts), then listed the rest.
It’s important to realize that from grades K-8, the most important tools of learning are math and language arts. Everything else is just exposure. Your kids won’t master everything there is to know in science, or history, or art at this point. But exposing them to these subjects is your main goal.
List all your kids across the top of the paper and include their grade level. When they’re listed like this, you can see who you might be able to combine together for certain subjects.
Now you’re ready to start filling in your yearly plan.
List curriculum for the essential individual courses of study
You might choose to teach math and language arts differently, but many families have their students working on these subjects individually and “at grade level” (whatever that means for your kids).
We have used Bob Jones Math since our oldest started kindergarten. It works for us and we all like the format and structure. So for math, we would be using a textbook and computer based style. My oldest two used the BJUP Distance Learning option online.
Next, I will map out what each child will study for Language Arts this year. Language Arts is a broad term, but it would include phonics at the youngest years, then spelling, grammar, literature and reading, and writing. You might teach a portion of language arts everyday, or a small amount of each aspect daily. You might study things in seasons, like a writing unit, then a grammar review book. There is no one way to cover language arts, you just need to take into account the laws of your state, your students’ strengths and weaknesses, and your season of life.
Here’s how my kids will cover Language Arts next year:
- My kindergartener will be learning to read and using the BJUP K5 Beginnings Worktext. We will read lots of books together throughout the year.
- My fifth grader completed First Language Lessons levels 1-4 (grammar), so before starting him on Analytical Grammar or Writing With Skill in middle school, we will review grammar with Daily Grams while writing across the curriculum (narrations for science and history). He will read 1-2 hours a day and complete All About Spelling 5.
- My eighth grader completed the last level in All About Spelling, so I will use Vocabulary Vine with him and his brother. He will read 1-2 hours a day and finish Analytical Grammar and Writing With Skill 1.http://amzn.to/2EQibWg
- My ninth grader will finish Analytical Grammar, finish Writing With Skill 1 and move onto WWS2, then complete Vocabulary Vine and read 1-2 hours per day.
- My tenth grader will be using Notgrass American history, which counts as a credit in history, Bible, and English. We may also finish Writing With Skill 3. And he will read daily.
Fill in the rest of your plan
Now that the essentials are figured out, the rest is icing on the cake. Well, except for the high schoolers who have certain graduation requirements.
My high schoolers mainly use independent study through textbooks and curriculum, with an occasional distance learning course.
Our high school plan is penciled in and continues to evolve as my oldest works through grades 9-12. The poor oldest child is usually the guinea pig, but after he graduates, we will have a good grasp on what works for us in the high school years.
For the high school years, check with your state requirements for graduation, then take into consideration what your child wants to pursue after that. Are they college bound? Would internships and apprenticeships be the way to go? Fill in the essentials, then add meaningful electives to their high school plan.
As you fill in the rest of your subjects, ask these questions:
- Which courses can you combine multiple kids?
- Which courses don’t need to be taught all year?
- Which schedule will work best?
You can see that my high schoolers will complete Physical Science together.
My younger kids will have the same topics in history and science. I haven’t finalized what they will be yet.
I listed Logic because I like to cover that in some way each year, but we might also take a break since I will have a Kindergartener in the fall and I know that Kindergarten is mom-intensive!
I have a few more blank spots, but I feel pretty good with this almost completed year plan.
A NOTE ABOUT SCHEDULING
Which schedule works best for multiple kids or covering subjects that don’t need to be daily? There are many options and you just need to try them to see which one works best for your family.
Looping is a great way to work through multiple subjects without feeling disorganized if you miss a day.
It would look like this to loop history, science, and art:
On the first day you would study history. On the second day of the loop (could be the next day in the week, or three days later, it doesn’t matter!) you cover science. On the third day of the loop, your kids complete an art project. On the fourth day of the loop, you’re back to history, and so on.
We did a loop schedule for one year, but the next option worked better for us this year.
Semester or Block Scheduling
When I was trying to loop science, history, and logic, it was making me feel crazy!
It was too many subjects to keep straight and we all felt like we were changing gears everyday.
So we tried a semester schedule where we decided to go ahead and finish our history curriculum for the year, then turn our attention to finishing science. This has worked much better for us.
You could also use block scheduling like this: take 6 weeks to complete a history unit study, then start a 4 week composer study, then take a week off for art projects, then nature journaling in the spring for science. This is much more doable for most families than trying to fit all four of those subjects in daily or weekly.
You can go the route of assigning each school day to a subject. For example, Monday is science, Tuesday is history, Wednesday is art, Thursday is PE, and Friday is music. But the problem with this is, what if you end up not doing school for three Mondays in a row? Then you are “behind” with science, or at least you might feel that way.
My suggestion for scheduling these subjects is to decide how many times of week you want your child to work on that subject, then let them make their own schedule. This works best in middle school and above, although my fourth grader has done well with this system.
Here’s how we do it: my middle schoolers need to complete their Writing with Skill lesson 3 times a week and Analytical Grammar 2 times a week. Scheduling their master weekly list on Trello is so helpful because they can drag and drop those assignments to any day they want. I don’t care which day it gets done, it just has to get done.
With Trello, I can plan once for the year, set up master boards and simply take 5 minutes each weekend to copy to boards onto their Trello accounts for the following week. This mama doesn’t have time for extensive lesson planning!
GO THROUGH YOUR CURRICULUM
Once you’ve decided on the main curriculum you will use in the coming year, you can pull all your books and teacher manuals out into the open and declutter!
Check off which curriculum you already own.
If you don’t own what you need, make a note of what you might want to use or note which subjects need more research.
Check out my free download below with curriculum links for each style of homeschooling.
MAKE A PURCHASE PLAN
You can spend as much or as little as you want! Make a homeschool budget and stick to it. If you know how to sniff out the deals, you will be amazed at how thrifty you can be with piecing together a great homeschool curriculum.
Places to buy:
- local homeschool group
- homeschool online groups
- direct from publisher
- homeschool convention
- online download
Make a list of curriculum you need to buy and give yourself several months to hit the online sales.
It’s much easier to spend the money and make the purchase when you know what the price is for brand new and you see it for sale.
- If you’re just starting, just look at the one year in front of you. Choose the homeschool style that is easiest right now. Is that unschooling, Charlotte Mason, or textbook based? Whatever you choose to use for your first year doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that choice forever. But just give yourself grace as you dip your toe into homeschooling.
- The younger years are mom-intensive. But this won’t last forever, so enjoy it! But you also don’t have to “do school” as long as you think. Homeschooling is much more efficient than a traditional school setting from 8AM – 3PM.
- Adding more kids to the mix? Great! Even if you’ve not had to combine multiple grades before, consider doing so to save your sanity. History, science, and most of the “electives” are easily taught this way.
- After you homeschool a child through K-8th, you will have a good idea of what works. You will then have a personalized blueprint for your homeschool and easily know what to purchase each year. Just consult your spreadsheet when planning for next year. Of course, you can feel free to change things up as needed!
- When your oldest is in 7th or 8th grade, create a High School plan based on your state’s graduation requirements and what you know your teen wants to do after high school. Start filling in the credits, courses, and curriculum you want to use.
- Don’t forget that kids in middle school and especially high school are much more independent. Mom turns into a manager and occasional support rather than a daily teacher.
You can do it!