Planning a great homeschool year can be fun or it can be overwhelming, depending on your personality and circumstances. In the midst of summer vacations, gardening and trips to the pool, you have to fit in time to think, plan and get stuff ready. If you take the summer off from formal academics like we do, summer break is a time to evaluate, plan and get supplies ready for the coming year. Here are eight little-known secrets to help you plan your homeschool year:
1) Beware the planning “high.” Some of us love to plan. In fact, we love it so much we put more effort into planning than in actually carrying out the day-to-day living of the plan. We invest so much emotion into planning that our brain thinks we actually accomplished a school year just because we thought about it and talked about it and gushed excitedly to our friends about it. Beware.
2) On a related note, please be realistic. It will help if you take your eyes off your friend’s family and off of Pinterest. Being honest with yourself will save you a lot of money and heartache. Certain subjects and activities can be good things….unless you’re having a baby in October or you haven’t yet figured out how to manage your household while homeschooling.
3) Pray for each child. Ask God to give you wisdom about what each child needs. His answers may surprise you, and they may come in the form of conversations, a relationship crisis, an unexpected bargain and more….although rarely in a curriculum catalog.
4) Pray for yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever begun a school year without some fear and trepidation—even after 26 years. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He HAS given us power, love and a sound mind. If your mind seems spring-loaded to fear and anxiety over the coming school year, spend extra time journaling and getting
5) Ask yourself: What do we want our life to look like? Your answer will inform your choices. If you dream of quiet days at home, reading aloud and doing hands-on science projects, you’ll feel the disconnect if you commit to being gone to classes three days a week. This is a great question to ask each family member, too. Their answers might surprise you.
6) Prepare, but not to a fault. Making copies and gathering supplies are helpful preparations. Writing perfect lesson plans for the entire school year—in ink—and creating a schedule—written in stone—will probably be scattered to the winds within the first week (day?) of school. Don’t waste time and valuable emotional energy being invested in detailed preparations that depend on homeschool perfection.
7) Remember that curriculum is a tool, not a taskmaster. Hint: It’s okay if you go through a textbook or unit study teacher’s manual and decide what you do and do not want your family to study in depth, then plan accordingly.
8) Don’t despair if you can’t afford a certain curriculum. If you truly can’t afford a coveted curriculum package, there could be something better. I remember this very situation years ago, and in looking back I am so grateful that we couldn’t afford it. Our budget caused me to be creative and determined, and we ended up reading countless books, doing copywork and making notebooks. What you want so badly might not be in your family’s best interest after all.
On a practical note, here’s my to-do list for getting ready for our new homeschool year: Back to School To-Do List (specific for our family and curriculum)
What are the things you think about as you begin planning your homeschool year? Do you have a tip for the practical side of getting ready? Please share!