Proper performance requires planning! This is true of everything including homeschool. How do you form a homeschool plan?
I’ve written about this topic often here and my other blog, http://www.ccofsiliconvalley.wordpress.com.
My oldest is almost 8, and I’m teaching my kindergartener too. I’m also enriching my 2 year old and caring for my baby. It’s a busy fun year, that’s for sure!
Let’s get down to brass tacks.
A good homeschool plan is done in five steps.
- Know your goals.
- Form a schedule.
- Reverse engineer.
- Review and course correct.
Let’s start at 1. Know your family’s goals and mission, and goals for each child for his or her life while they are under your roof, and then for just this year. You’re starting big and getting small… like a reverse triangle. Start with ideas and then get tactical. Ask God about the big and the small. Trust that He has an opinion and a direction for you!
You should have overall goals for preschool, grades 1-3 and 4-5, 6-9, and 10-12th grades… your goals done have to be exactly as I’ve outlined it, but it’s better to work in chunks and then break them down.
Look at state standards. Look at some excellent homeschool curriculum’s scope and sequence. Compare and contrast. Narrow down your list of priorities.
If you homeschooled last year I hope you assessed your progress against your goals (I hope you set some basic goals last year!). If not start this year right by making some goals. You cannot proceed in planning well if your goals are unclear. Did I say make some goals? I mean it. Spend the most time here.
Good goals are smart ones. They are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Are your goals smart enough? If not, retool!
If you “test” via standardized tests then know how to prepare your kid for that and scatter it into your year. It’s kinder to everyone that way!
For example by June 2020, my oldest will have completed Singapore Math 3A.
Now that you know your goals, form a schedule.
2. Form a schedule does not mean write down what you’re going to do every hour of the day. Again, start big and get small. Start by getting a calendar out and blocking out vacation time, field trip days, days you just know you will be “out” like holidays or birthdays. In my family every birthday is a free day, and every Friday is Shabbat preparation. Technically we could call Friday a home ec day, but I just don’t “count” those days in my planning activities.
For example, I have 8 days I am homeschooling in July, and 12 in August. The rest of the year is fuller until December and January, and then we ramp up again through May, and slow down in June. And I know I need time at the end of the year for assessments and planning, so I’ve accounted for those.
3. Reverse engineer. Now that you know what days you are planning to homeschool, and you’ve adjusted to include sick, travel, holiday, and field trip days, go pick your curriculum. How do you choose it? That’s a whole other topic and there are a lot of google searches that will satisfy your every curriculum question. So, get out your curriculum out one by one, and review the table of contents, lesson planning advice within the curriculum, and get a sense of the scope of that curriculum. Guesstimate how long you want to dedicate to each lesson or topic, and how long your child may take doing it. I literally count pages in some books, whereas in others I look more at topics. Some topics I cover daily such as math and handwriting and reading. Other topics I cover twice a week, once a week, or monthly. I loved executing a loop schedule for two years in a row. This year I will be a little more aggressive about my pace for my oldest child, whereas the younger kids can enjoy the loop schedule.
4. Execute. Okay it sounds simple, but when you are dealing with children and you who all have sin issues or sickness issues or unplanned events it gets complicated. But really, you have to actually do the work. Or else it will pile up and become a mountain that can feel overwhelming. Yuck.
5. Review and course correct. The great thing about a plan is you know where you should be at the end of a week, a month, six weeks and a quarter. So stop where you are and look at the roadmap. Make sure you’re steering well and the windshield is clean. If it’s foggy, go back and see why. Do you need to change your plan? Make up a day? Deal with a work ethic issue in you or your child? Have you been realistic?
Planning well is an investment that takes time. It took me six hours to finish, and I have about two more hours to put in until I am done. I have left to create my son’s homeschool planner. I am teaching him executive functioning skills, so he needs this planner in front of him. I started this idea for him last year. He will work within week-long agendas, and break them down into daily goals and tasks. I will sit down with my planner in front of him and we will work together. It will be fun… we will do it over tea and cookies or something nice so he learns to enjoy this time.
Alright folks! I hope this helps you!
Pencils and sharpies,
Robyn Cooper, mom to four little heros