I really wish I liked homeschool planning. I've tried. Trust me. We are nearly a decade into this homeschooling journey and I've taken multiple planning courses, have purchased five different types of homeschool planners, spent countless hours planning and planning and buying and buying and organizing all the things. By the time I get around to actually homeschooling, I'm tired.
I'm not a huge planner by nature and I struggled with this for a while as I felt like I had to be Peggy Planner in order to successfully homeschool. I fell down the rabbit hole of the Instagram squares filled with stunning, color-coded planners, and perfectly planned lessons. Instead of feeling inspired, I felt panicky. When we don't honor our own tendencies as the homeschool parent, we set ourselves up to be disappointed and overwhelmed right from the start.
Now, please hear me say this: if you ARE into planning and love it and it works for you, then please keep doing it. We are all different with different needs, different kids, and different methods of homeschooling.
Two years ago, I sat down to journal about our upcoming homeschool year and came up with these five fast and easy steps to finally set myself free of homeschool planning anxiety. The steps are flexible and can work for anyone.
5 Steps to Simple Homeschooling Planning
Before you plan everything out for your kids, take some time to examine your needs:
- How are you feeling?
- What do you want to change in your approach to home education?
- Is your schedule different this year?
- Are you working?
- Handling any health issues or big life changes, like a move?
All of these things should be considered before you do detailed planning. I hadn't done this type of reflection when I was a new homeschool parent. I was so worried about making sure I had all the right books, activities, etc. that I forgot to take myself into consideration. And considering I was the one doing the bulk of the homeschooling, something had to change. Be sure to schedule yourself a homeschool parent/teacher conference. Yes, have a meeting with yourself.
Study your kids
This might seem obvious, but, you've got to study your kids. You need to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Hone in on their passions. Make time for those in your day--that is the beauty of homeschooling!
If you typically follow a more traditional homeschool curriculum or have a kid (or a parent) who just likes to "check the boxes", I invite you to push your boundaries a bit. Brainstorm some out-of-the-box ideas with your kid. Breathe new life into your homeschool year. It might just be the thing you both need as you continue your journey.
Set your vision
How do you want your homeschool year to look and feel? What season of life are you and your family in right now? I love to create goals for my kids (all teens now) and also give them the change to do the same.
Write a homeschool vision statement. Place it in your planning binder or post it somewhere for the whole family to see. Be sure your kids have copies of their goals to review with you every month or quarter. A simple task that can build connection and keep everyone moving forward through the school year.
Simplify and streamline
This is my favorite part of the planning process. Getting rid of all the STUFF, cleaning out and purging items, simplifying and streamlining. Every year, I get better and better at it!
Friend, take a long hard look at all the homeschooling things in your space. Do you need them all? Are there books, curricula, art supplies (I'm looking at you, glitter glue) that are taking up precious space on your shelves? Why are you holding on to things you don't need or use?
This is a perfect time to downsize your homeschool stash and then only add new things that are absolutely essential. Need some inspiration, check out my favorite homeschool book, Minimalist Homeschooling: A values-based approach to maximize learning and minimize stress (affiliate link).
Time to actually start homeschooling. I know, I know, you want everything to be just so before you start. There is such a thing as over-planning.
Life will happen. Kids will get sick (or you will), you've spent the time do the above simple steps, made a (good enough) plan, and now you're good to go!
Explore! Go on a field trip! Read the new book! Write some silly poems! Watch a documentary with your teen and discuss it! Bake the brownies for breakfast and call it science class!
Are You Ready to Simplify Your Planning?
These simple steps can work for anyone, truly! Especially if you feel overwhelmed by the entire planning process or if you tend to be more of a Type B, relaxed, or interest-led homeschooling parent. And yes, you can still use the colorful pens (I have a huge collection, myself), the planning printables, and your brand-spanking-new supplies.
Just don't lose sight of why you've chosen to home educate. Planning is a part of the process, but the day to day learning and living is where the magic happens.