7 Steps for Planning the School Year

Everyone has their own method for planning out their homeschool year. For our family I preferred to plan out the core subjects of math, language arts, science, and history prior to beginning our school year and then work in electives as we decided upon them. This was the process I used.

In my pre-computer years, I would get a 5-subject notebook and assign a subject to each section. This notebook also served for record keeping. I would mark things off as the lesson was assigned, entered in grades if needed, etc… I had one notebook for each child. Later I moved onto using a computer spreadsheet workbook on my computer.

  1. Make a list of learning goals for the year. In the appropriate section of my notebook, I would add my desired goals per subject. For example, under Math, I would put Algebra and tentative knowledge objectives. For language arts I might have "read X number of books" then list some of the books I wanted to be read, and add spelling, vocabulary, and writing skill objectives for the child's level. In history, I may have decided to focus on ancient civilizations and for science, I might want my student to study biology.

  2. Determine what resources I would be using as the base for the subject. If I already had an idea of what our spines would be for the subject I would add that information to my goals worksheet. If I had no clue what we would be using, I would do some research and add my findings to another page in the subject section.

  3. Shop for curriculum. Once I had a general idea of what we would be using for each subject, I would start shopping for them. In addition to checking our own bookshelves to see what we already had, we would check out Homeschool Buyers Co-op and other homeschool curriculum companies for the best pricing. We would also visit thrift stores and used curriculum sites to get the most bang for our buck.

  4. Once our curriculum was purchased and had arrived, the fun began. I would look the resource over to see if there was already a sensible lesson plan strategy. Many curriculums are super easy to schedule as they are laid out in numbered lessons. For example, we used Saxon Math for several years. The lessons are already laid out in the formatting of the curriculum, so we would follow that as a guideline.

  5. If not there was not a pre-designed lesson plan, I would outline in my notebook how much we wanted to cover per term, semester, etc. This did not mean writing out the exact assignments, but just a general overview of what we wanted to cover. This usually only took one page per subject that I would divide into 4 terms. I would list the resource(s) and then notes such as "Lessons 1-45" or "Chapters 1-6."

  6. This was also a good time to look over the curriculum/book to see if we would need additional supplements, resources, and/or supplies. I would add this information into the plan outline section in the term/semester it would be needed for so that I would be sure to have it. Additionally, I would add notes about the curriculum such as if it was self-directed or when I thought additional teacher-led instruction may be needed, and other observations.

  7. Once I had done this for all the core subjects, I would dig in and try to lay out a plan using my goals and term notes as a guideline. Typically, one or two lines per day worked fine to write out the assignments for the subject. And I always did this in pencil so I could easily erase mistakes. (When I switched to using spreadsheets, this went a whole lot faster and easier to update. Lol).

When I was using the notebook system, once I had everything all set for at least the first semester,  I would use the margins to assign a date for the assignments. When the assignment was completed, I would "check" it off in ink and add grades in ink. I left each child's notebook available to them to look at if they wanted to get ahead or to know what was expected.

When I had switched to the spreadsheet method, I would copy and paste assignments into a separate spreadsheet and would print it out for the kids to keep track of the week's work.

However you plan out your lessons, it is very satisfying to have a have game plan ahead of time ready for implementation when you start your school year.

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