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Homeschool Planning: 5 Steps to a Great Year

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Because we have so much freedom as homeschoolers, homeschool planning can be overwhelming! Here is a simple 5 step process to plan a great year for your family.

Homeschool Planning: 5 steps to a great year

Homeschool Planning Step 1: Assess & Reflect

The first step in planning is figuring out where you are now. Because homeschooling is a natural extension of parenting, a successful plan will consider your family life as a whole.

We recommend assessing four areas:

  • Academic
  • Health
  • Character
  • Social

Our worksheet will guide you as you assess your children in each area.

Homeschool Planning Whole Child Assessment

Evaluate each child’s current strengths and weaknesses and whether they are growing in each area. For older kids, sit down and fill out the worksheet together.

Kids are more likely to participate cheerfully when they are part of the process.

Some thoughts to help guide your evaluation of each area:

  • Academics — We recommend starting with your child’s NWEA® MAP® Growth™ scores. Are they meeting their growth goals?
  • Health — Is your family getting enough exercise? Are they enjoying it? What about sleep? Are there any medical needs that need to be accommodated?
  • Character — Are there any issues that need attention, or topics they are ready to learn more about? Do they have strengths you would like to encourage?
  • Social — Are you striking the right balance with social activities? Are they happy? Finding meaningful connections?

Homeschool Planning Step 2: Set Priorities

As you plan your homeschool, your priorities will vary dramatically from child to child and year to year. For a kindergartner, your primary focus may be social, while with older kids, academics will likely play a larger role. For elementary school, you may prioritize exploring interests, while in high school you may be focused on completing the required coursework for college.

Make this year’s goals about this year’s needs. You may want to focus on supporting your child through a transition like the birth of a new sibling, moving, starting to homeschool, or going through a medical crisis.

Sit down with your spouse or a close friend and discuss your observations from step 1 and your long-term goals for each child, and decide what to prioritize this year.

Balance developing their strengths and attending to weaknesses. Think about what kind of learning works best for them, and what they need to be happy and relaxed. For teens and independent tweens, be sure to include them in the process— they may surprise you with what they want to take on!

Homeschooling works best when parents lead by example and are learning and growing, so fill one out for yourself too.

Tips For Completing Step 2

Overarching priority: Looking at your assessment from step 1, what can you address over the next year that will make the biggest difference for them? This will be a very personal choice. If you decide to focus on a weakness, be sure to balance it with plenty of time in areas of strength.

Needs: What must happen for this to be a successful year? This would include state requirements and family priorities.

Wants : Things you’d like to include if time and budget allow.

Stop: Things that don’t work for this child or your family that you want to be sure to avoid.

Step 3: Finding Resources

Now that you know what your homeschool planning goals are, it’s time to look for resources, and brainstorm. As you are thinking about how to meet each child’s goals, look for ways to meet multiple goals at once. For example, starting a history-themed book club could encourage a reluctant reader, act as your history program for the year, and provide social time. You could study nature or geology while hiking. As you make choices, consider how they impact your overarching priority for the year. Not every choice will be able to incorporate your top priority (sometimes a math curriculum is just a math curriculum), but work it in where you can, and try not to undermine it.

Homeschool Planning Resource Evaluation

As you find resources, fill out an evaluation form for each one to help you compare and choose.

Where to Find Homeschool Resources

In-person Homeschool Classes

  • Local Homeschool Co-ops
  • YMCA
  • Local Businesses offering Afterschool Classes
  • Museums & Zoos
  • Word of Mouth from Local Homeschoolers

Online Homeschool Classes

Used Homeschool Curriculum

New Homeschool Curriculum

Step 4: Put it All Together

Now that you have lots of options, it’s time to choose which work together best for each child. Start with things you are sure you will continue from the previous year, then move on to meeting needs from the priority guide.

Homeschool Plan Sheet

As you add to your plan, consider how your addition impacts the overarching priority, and whether it fits in your schedule and budget.

Be sure to leave a little room in both your schedule and your budget to allow for adjustments later.

Step 5: Assess & Adjust

Now that you have a plan, you need to be sure to check periodically that things you have chosen are working the way you envisioned and meeting the needs you intended them to meet. It can be easy to feel like the key to a successful year is making your kids work through your curricula, but it’s most important to make the curricula work for you.

Set aside time once a month to go over your plan for each child and assess how well each resource on the list is working, and whether together, they are supporting your overarching priority. Then, make adjustments.

A few simple changes to consider:

  • Adjust the pace
  • Add more repetition/practice
  • Cut out busywork
  • Swap out bookwork for hands-on activities
  • Team up with friends to make a “club
  • Do the work at a different time or place

If small adjustments don’t help, swap it out for something else— either one of the resources you didn’t choose from step 2, or something new.

Also take the time to notice what is working well, and celebrate successes and highlights.

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