When I first started homeschooling my boys, I made lesson planning harder than it needed to be. I remember sitting on the floor of our schoolroom pouring over their books for HOURS every weekend while trying to figure out what to teach them for the coming week. It was back breaking and mind blowing and it didn’t need to be that difficult. They were both preschool aged, for goodness sakes!
Flash forward fifteen years and I do my homeschool planning very differently today. First, I’m sitting at a computer instead of on the floor. But even more importantly, I’ve figured out how to save myself a lot of time throughout the year.
For those of you who have been homeschooling for awhile, you have probably figured this out as well. I want to go through it, though, for any newer homeschoolers who are reading this. Or for parents who are thinking about homeschooling but aren’t sure they can handle the workload. Or for current homeschoolers who feel they’re spending too much time in the planning process.
Homeschool Planning Can Be SUPER Simple
The summer before your school work begins is the perfect time to complete the first step of my super simple homeschool planning method. In fact, a great time to start is right after those boxes filled with new-smelling curriculum arrive at your door. After opening those exciting packages, it’s time to figure out how to best use them throughout the year.
No matter when you’re reading this, however, it’s NOT TOO LATE to change how you do your homeschool planning and to save yourself a ton of time!
Yearly Planning Using Textbooks
If your kids will be using a textbook, yearly planning is EXTREMELY simple. Look at the table of contents to see how many lessons each book contains. Divide the number of lessons by the number of weeks you plan to homeschool (usually 36 weeks.) This will tell you how many lessons you need to teach each week for that subject.
For example, if you are using Teaching Textbooks for 5th-grade math, there are 114 lessons in the book. There are also 16 quizzes. 114+16=130. 130 divided by 36 equals 3.61. In other words, if you plan to teach math 4 days a week, your child will complete the book in 36 weeks. Actually, he will complete it in 32 1/2 weeks, but this gives you a little bit of leeway to skip a lesson here and there when you’re having a busy week.
Yearly Planning Using Actual Books
If you’re trying to plan a subject such as American Literature, and your child will be reading books versus a textbook, first pick which books you want him to read. Then, you can either decide how many chapters you can reasonably expect him to read per week or count up all of the chapters in each of the books and divide them by 36 so you’ll know how many he needs to read each week to complete them all in one year.
Do this yearly planning for all of the subjects so that you know how much work needs to be completed each week. This first step is the hardest and takes the most time. It’s essential, however, because it will make your weekly planning super simple. And the best part is that you do it once a year and then it’s done!
Now that you know what your child needs to complete each week throughout the year, simply create a chart for week one. I have created a sample chart to help you see what I mean.
You can either break your child’s work down by the week or per day. That’s completely up to you! For small children, I would recommend making a list for each day and walking them through it. As they get a bit older, let them work through their daily list with minimal direction from you. And as they get even older, give them a weekly or a monthly checklist to work through. By the time they graduate, you may be able to let them do the vast majority of their own yearly planning!
You now have a checklist for your child telling him exactly what you’d like him to complete during that first week of school. Use this as a template for coming weeks as well. Some homeschoolers write out their lessons plans from week to week; however, having these sheets saved on the computer will save you a ton of time. Rather than writing it all out each week, you can simply go back and change the chapter numbers and lessons that you want your child to complete and print it back out.
You may be tempted to make up several weeks of sheets at one time. I would recommend against this!
It’s important to wait and see how your child does in completing that week’s work before scheduling the next week. If an unexpected field trip comes up, or you have an opportunity to visit with a grandparent, or he gets sick, your child may not complete all of the work on their sheet. If you print sheets one week at a time, it’s easy for you to make adjustments for the coming week.
There’s also the possibility that your child may LOVE the book you’ve assigned him to read that week and he may read MORE than what you assigned. You can easily adjust the coming weeks to reflect these changes as well.
Like I said, this method of homeschool planning is super simple and it takes minimal time! I hope that seeing how I’ve been planning our lessons will help you in the coming year. 🙂
Question: Do you use a similar lesson planning method? Do you have any other helpful lesson planning advice you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below.
And be sure to check out the other great Homeschool Logistics posts from iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.