Planning your homeschool for the year can be quite a challenge especially if you are teaching several grades, but it does not have to be! Below are some of my suggestions for planning your homeschool year!
- Take it one step at a time.
Do not try to plan every day for your entire year! Just try a week or two at first as you do not want to be overwhelmed if you cannot keep to your schedule!
Each state differs for requirements of how many days per semester, how many hours per day, etc. Check your requirements for your state as well as your umbrella school.
For TN, we need 180 days per calendar year which is from August 1 to July 31. Also, 4 hours per day. I usually begin the first week in August or the Tuesday after Labor Day and try my best to be finished by the time we begin heavily into our garden in late April or early May. However, we will be in Michigan this year for almost the entire school year. There are not really any requirements in Michigan. Since my baby is due in mid-August, and gardening begins so late in Michigan, I have opted to officially begin school for the 2012-2013 year the Tuesday after Labor Day. Unless there are holidays, we will “have school” Monday-Friday with any field trips which can be educational taken on the weekends also to be counted as our school.
- Pick a Theme.
Each year I pick a theme which all of our lessons will revolve around. It is easy to do because I pick my own curriculum and do not use one particular set, but choose from many which I like as well as use other things to make sure the children are learning the competencies required by the state for their grade or age level. Last year our theme was “What Is Your Legacy?” We discussed the legacies left by various people throughout history. These legacies were not always good ones either! The year before our theme was “Patriotism.” I have not chosen a theme for the 2012-2013 school year at this time.
- Decide which subjects you can teach across the grades.
There are many things you can do as an entire group in what are called “Unit Studies.” There are plenty of free Unit Study lesson plans online. Some of the subjects I teach basically the same throughout all the grades or age levels are Bible/Character, History, Music (non-instrument specific), Art, P.E., and Science. There are days when we can still do some other activities together in Math and Reading as well.
- Decide the remaining subjects to teach.
Depending on the age level and requirements of your state or umbrella school, your subjects can vary greatly. If you have a high school student I suggest determining what he/she is going to take and teaching like subjects to your younger children.
- Remember to include things your children enjoy.
I know the things my children love to study. I try to incorporate as many of those things as I can to make up for the things such as English Grammar which they do not enjoy learning as much. Include games, field trips, arts, crafts, and more!
- Choose a Planner for You or Make Your Own.
I have a few planners I have been using which someone gave me. I also use scrap paper to write down each day what the daily objectives are for each child. They get the drift pretty soon and know within a week what is expected. There are TONS of free Educational Planners out there! Homeschool Mom has great planners on her website as does Chart Jungle. Next weeks homeschool freebies will feature freebies for organizing your homeschool! Remember you can find almost any type of printable you desire on line for FREE! Just search for it!
- Realize you CANNOT teach EVERYTHING!
It is often difficult to cover ALL the material you desire in one semester or sometimes even in one day. Teach what you can while not pressuring your child! You may find what you plan for one day that you actually need a week to cover. Then again, you may have planned a week for something and find you cover it thoroughly in a day or less! I know I have in the past! If you need to, break the subjects up by days. For instance Reading, Spelling, History, and English on M,W and Science and Math on T, Th, with arts and crafts on Friday, devotions every day and PE everyday. These are just some suggestions which I have tried in the past. However, I have found my younger ones do better if they trouble subject is done consistently every day! I have one who struggles in Math, so he does Math EVERY DAY! Another who struggles with reading so he does Reading EVERY DAY (including the summers for both of them!).
- Make a basic outline for your daily routine.
If you do not have a daily routine, try to make one. I will have a separate post in the future of our daily schedule and routine for both the school and summer months. Children thrive on consistency! I do not suggest saying, “At 10 am until 10:30 am Monday-Friday we will have our spelling lesson.” I cannot schedule like that because there is always something which will happen. Things such as the goats and chickens getting out, an important phone call emergency, a big messy poopy from the baby or another mess one of the others has made which will need to be cleaned immediately!
- Have activities for the younger ones planned so they also feel included.
You can have coloring pages, legos, play dough, or something else to include them.
- Take one step at a time.
Yes, I am repeating myself. Be patient with yourself! There is NOT a perfect schedule! Learn to be flexible! You may find you often have to change your schedule to adapt to what is going on with your family. It’s ok! Just make the changes and keep going! No big deal!
More next week!