You have gathered your supplies and made a list of curriculum you will be using, now to make it all fit in your calendar! A homeschool schedule is crucial to making sure it all gets done. Life happens and gets in the way, but having a plan in the beginning creates a flow that results in success!
In the beginning I had you glance at your calendar to give you an idea of how much time you had to devote to curriculum, outside activities, community service, etc. Today we are going to look at our calendar a little more in depth. I am going to help you build a homeschool schedule that sets your family up for a productive year!
Tools You May Need
Any good job requires the right tools. There is a lot available and that can be overwhelming. You can make anything work, it doesn’t have to be complicated. I will suggest a few resources, but find what fits your lifestyle the best. And know there is freedom in knowing that you can try something else, if what you are doing isn’t working.
A homeschool planner or calendar will help keep you get organized. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I use the Living Well Planner for my paper copy. I use this in conjunction with Google Calendar, so that all family members have access to our schedule. I find I need both of these to keep our large family moving. These are both simply calendars and not lesson planners, but find they are easiest way to keep my schedule organized without an overwhelming amount of information. I use the calendar to direct my lesson planning.
There are also some awesome homeschool planners available if you wish to write down all of your homeschool lessons. These planners usually include a monthly calendar and separate pages to record lesson plans for 2-4 children. I’ve found a few that include for 6 children. I did this for a while, but it felt so repetitive. I was writing down my lesson plans in my book, only to have to write them down again for the student. Now I use lesson plan sheets.
Lesson Plan Sheets
I use Google Docs to create weekly lesson plan sheets for each student. You can see a sample of my 5th grader’s here and my 11th grader’s here. I create similar charts for my 1st and 2nd grader, but because they aren’t avid readers yet and it would probably overwhelm them, I keep these to myself. Google docs allows me to print them or simply share the file. I also use email to send assignments to my high schoolers. I’m only writing down the assignments once and can easily copy and paste when I need to move assignments around.
I also create yearly plans during my weekend planning session. It looks like this for a high schooler. And for my yearly overview it looks like this. This gives me the at-a-glance that I need to stay on track and not get off course during the year.
Dry Erase Board
If you have wall space or refrigerator space, I can’t recommend a dry erase board enough. Especially if you have a large family or everyone going in different directions. It’s a central command center that everyone has access too. You can see how I use my board here. I found this one at Costco, but there are many available.
I only keep the daily jobs or activities on the board. Everyone knows to check the board for their assignments for the day, whether it’s chores or school work.
Plan to Succeed
Prioritize your lesson planning time and schedule this time in your busy life. I offer a freebie on how to manage your time available to all subscribers! Simply sign up for the newsletter to receive your password. Who doesn’t need more help managing time? And if you really need extra help in this area, I will be launching a time management course from a Biblical perspective in the near future!
Focused Planning Weekend
Before your school year starts, setting aside a weekend to plan is a wonderful idea. Some of you are blessed to have a husband willing to do this with you, but if not, see if you can spend one weekend with no distractions. Before your weekend, have all your tools in place, so that you can focus on creating a plan for your homeschool year.
During this weekend you can create your yearly plan and plan out the first few weeks of school. I highly recommend to only schedule two weeks at a time. Life happens, schedules change, the student needs more help in an area, or needs to move faster. And in all transparency, I only plan one week at a time. I hate having to go back and change things, I feel like a failure when things don’t get done, so I solve this by planning a week at a time.
Weekly Planning Sessions
These weekly planning sessions usually happen on Sunday’s. I’ve tried for years to not have to do this on Sunday, but it always happens on Sunday! I can sit down and glance through my weekly calendar and plan out my homeschool schedule accordingly. I print off the kids lesson plan sheets and email my high schoolers any digital resources they will need for the week. We have our homeschool community days on Monday, so I can swing by the store on the way home if we need any supplies for the week. And I know this because I did my weekly planning on Sunday. 😉
What you define as success in your homeschool is totally yours to own. After homeschooling for so many years and teaching multiple learning challenged children, I’ve learned to roll with the punches and be flexible. I’ve accepted that my lesson plans don’t have to be full as long as they are enlightening. I’ve learned that simple is best with lots of time and resources to explore the world God created for us. And I’ve learned that having a schedule and a plan creates peace and I know my kids are gaining an amazing education!