Spring not only brings the end of year programs and subject completions, but the excitement of what next year brings! I get so pumped as I
browse homeschool catalogs, thumb through new curriculum, and see the possibilities ahead. Homeschool planning is something I look forward to every year, but having a larger than usual family provides it’s own challenges.

I’ve tried many planning systems over the years and as my children grow, so do my systems. And having a large family requires some creative organization on my part. For a general planning overview you can check out my 4 part series Planning your Homeschool Year.

This year I received a copy of Pam Barnhill’s Plan Your Year and compensation for my honest opinion. I am blown away at the detail included in this book! Let’s take a peek at what my homeschool plans look like for next year.

Cast a Vision for your Homeschool

Homeschooling without a vision is kind of like wandering around in the dark with your hands tied behind your back and then being surprised when you stub your toe.

Pam Barnhill

The very first chapter is “Cast a Vision” for your homeschool. You can’t have a solid homeschool plan without knowing the final destination. I’m going to say this a lot, but she has made this book help homeschoolers on all paths! In this chapter she gives three ways to come up with a vision statement and information on how to create a vision board. I was so motivated, we put together our vision board this week! It’s a work in progress …

Vision board for my homeschool

I prayed over our upcoming school year and God gave me the word strength. Strength in numbers, strength in relationships, strength in faith. Our crazy, busy schedule this year caused a lot of discord and my prayer for the coming year is to teach my children the incredible gift they have in each other and rebuild family relationships. This vision board will be a constant reminder for us all.

Setting Homeschool Goals

Once you know your vision, you can plot out your homeschool goals for the year making sure they are specific and measurable. Plan Your Year walks you through asking questions to reach your goals.

  • What’s worked in the past?
  • Student’s strengths?
  • Teacher’s strengths?
  • What needs to be improved?

The more children you have, the more time this will take. But it’s worth every second! Knowing each child is a blessing of homeschooling. We know their strengths and weaknesses, we know their interests and dreams, we know their learning styles and struggles.

I have specific goals set for each child including subjects we need to work on, life skills that need to be learned, and fun I want to incorporate into our school day. I include my high schoolers in the process. It’s all part of my high school planning.

Homeschool planning for a large family with Plan Your Year

Choosing Resources & Curriculum

I’m going to say it again! Pam gives readers great detail to cover all homeschool styles and family dynamics. This book is a one stop shop for all things homeschool planning! Discover homeschool methods, check state requirements, and determine subjects to find the curriculum or resources that fit your family’s needs.

The best homeschool curriculum is the one that will get done.

Pam Barnhill

I narrowed our curriculum choices to Classical Conversations, BookShark, CTCMath, Life of Fred, Signing Naturally and several other resources. I will have 11th, 6th, 3rd, 1st and Pre-K next year. That’s a lot going on in one household!

Routines, Not Schedules

Whether you use traditional, block or loop scheduling, Plan Your Year has all methods covered! With definitions and explanations of the different options, you are sure to find what works best for your family.

I used the loop scheduling worksheet for our morning time routine, then the traditional schedule for the remainder of the day. If morning basket is something that you want more info on, check out Better Together. Morning basket has been a game changer for our large family! We all start together, get the most important things accomplished and then divide and conquer!

But wait, there’s more!

Now that you have your year roughly planned out, you can jump into lesson planning. The remainder of the book helps you make the most out of your chosen curriculum. There is no doubt that this is the most thorough how to homeschool planner I’ve ever seen. Pam covers all areas of lesson planning. Plus she offers Autopilot Course for those that need a “step-by-step method to create a customized, unique-to-your-family homeschool plan
without all the keeping up with co-op moms anxiety.”

My favorite part of the book was the homeschool mom descriptions by their Myers-Briggs personality. So much fun! And so much truth!

The end of the book closes with how to set up your student’s homeschool portfolio. I love the idea of a portfolio and I have great intentions, but I’ll be honest and say that my kids’ “portfolio” is a rubbermaid tub with completed school work that dates at least five years back. Plan your Year has so many fabulous portfolio ideas, I will have to try them!

Plan your Year. Homeschool planning with a large family.

Putting it all Together

I’ll be honest. I love planning and organizing. Even for a planner like me, it had a lot to offer. It’s an amazing resource for the beginner homeschooler and a great resource for veteran homeschoolers as well. I have only finished one students year plan so far, but I already feel better having a written down plan.

Don’t hit those homeschool conventions without a plan! Have your vision and goals written down and agreed upon before you start shopping. This will prevent buying material you never use or getting frustrated with something that didn’t really fit your goals.

Happy Planning!

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