Here's something you should know about me--I love planning! I also consider homeschooling to be my job of sorts, so I spend a lot of time thinking about, prepping for and planning our homeschool, especially in the summer months when we're off.
Whether you're planning your first year, are already a planner like me or just you wish that you were, here is a step-by-step look at how I plan our homeschool year.
1. Decide on a Curriculum: First I assess what grades I'll be teaching and decide on what curriculum we will be using for the year. I call this curriculum my "spine" because usually I have one curriculum I use for most subjects and then I sub in a few other resources here and there.
If I start with a spine, I find that it's easier to plan since I'm not building a curriculum from scratch for every individual subject. Many families find it easiest to just stick with one curriculum and not make any changes, especially when it's your first year!
2. Plan out a Yearly Calendar: Once I've decided on what curriculum I'm using, I plan our our calendar and extra curricular activities. I research what things we'll be doing outside of the house (this year for us it will be Bible Study Fellowship, Co-Op, Swim Lessons and Nature Club) and what days/times they meet. There is nothing worse than scheduling your whole year, only to find that an outside activity will take up a large portion of one or more days and having to go back and re-do the whole schedule.
I plan out how many days/weeks we need to do school and our target start date and our end date. We leave some room for flexibility but I like having a decent picture of what the year will entail before we begin.
3. Set a Realistic Weekly and Daily Homeschool Schedule: I plan out what subjects we will do on which days. I call this our "Week at a Glance". I have found that Rhythm scheduling really works for our family. Rhythm scheduling is where each day has assigned subjects to it, but they're not set at a certain time. Since we are busier outside of our home on certain days, those days have less subjects assigned to them.
I try to be realistic about how much we can get done. If you have a curriculum that is "open and go" or already assigns subjects to each day, this part will be super easy. This step helps me see if I've "over booked" us. If one day looks super full, I know that after a few weeks I will be feeling burnt out and subjects will fall by the wayside. It's always better for me to plan less and add in more than to over plan.
I also try and plan out a daily rhythms or routine, but usually this happens closer to the beginning of the year. This kind of schedule includes meal times, our main chunks of time set aside for doing school, chores, outside activities and outdoor play. We don't always follow a daily routine but it's helpful for me lay out in order to wrap my brain around what our days will look like for the coming year.
4. Buy and Organize Materials: This is my favorite step! Who doesn't love getting school supplies and new books in the mail? This is also the step where I print off anything I need for our morning menus (recitation, memory work, hymns, etc), gather any other printables or school materials and re-organize my bookshelves.
I also make youtube playlists and/or yoto playlists for any videos, tutorials or folk songs we will be watching and listening to. When this step is done, I really feel ready for the year to begin!
5. Prepare for the First Day: This step includes praying for our year, and re-adjusting to our homeschool schedule (aka--trying to get back on track with an early bedtime). In the past I've also prepared a little gift basket for the first day with new school supplies and some small gifts (including these first day of school printable pennant flags!).
Each first day of school we go out for donuts at our favorite local place, take pictures and complete a first day of school interview, so I also prepare for those things as well. These things aren't necessary, but they make the start of our year a little extra special!
I hope seeing my process all laid out is practical and helpful in your own process! If you're new to homeschooling, check out my Homeschool 101 course where I walk you though all the different ways you can schedule your year and schedule your week! Happy Homeschooling!