How to Plan Your Homeschool Year: The Ultimate Guide
The new school year is here, and planning your homeschool can seem like a mountain of a task. You have a homeschool to plan in addition to all the other parts of your life.
Don’t worry! You are not alone.
This blog post will show you how to plan your entire homeschool year. I’ll also give you some suggestions for tools you can use to make the day-to-day easier.
Your homeschool will feel more organized, leaving you feeling calmer.
Planning Your Homeschool Year
One way to plan your homeschool year is by considering what legal method you are using. If you’re homeschooling independently, your state may have time requirements. That’s something to keep in mind strongly.
Check with your state’s department of education, which can be found online or homeschool charter.
If you are homeschooling under a public charter school, then you may consider sticking to a traditional homeschool schedule (August-June in most cases).
In some cases with homeschool charters, you must turn in work samples and meet with a credentialed teacher every few weeks.
The traditional schedule may work out best.
How Many Days a Year Do You Have to Homeschool?
If you are homeschooling privately with no restrictions, how many days per year for homeschooling is a personal choice. You can take holidays off of your choosing, birthdays with no schooling, and vacations any time you want.
How many days depends on what you want your children to learn in what amount of time.
Some legal methods of homeschooling have attendance requirements. That can guide your planning.
A great tool that I use for planning my homeschool year is Homeschool Planet. I have purchased curriculum pacing guides for my kids’ curricula, and it’s my favorite feature.
A pacing guide helps you know how long it will take to get through a curriculum and which assignment to do each day.
With Homeschool Planet, you set up your homeschool calendar, and it tells you what to do next. You can skip dates, and the pacing plan will adjust. You will always know how long it will take to finish your curriculum using the available ready-made plans.
Homeschool Planet is frequently adding to its fantastic collection of curriculum plans.
What Type of School Year Do You Want to Pick?
There are a few types of calendars you can choose from when you plan your homeschool year. Reflect on what your family enjoys. Do you like to travel frequently?
Are there any health challenges with members of your family?
We use a traditional calendar when planning with a sprinkle of summer school added.
The Traditional School Year
The traditional school year starts in September in most places and ends in June. In between, there are small three-day weekends for holidays and more significant breaks for winter and spring vacation.
Most homeschooler parents I know start to wear down toward the end of Spring, so it’s perfectly normal if that happens to you.
The Year-Round School Year
Homeschooling year-round is different than the traditional school year. Families that homeschool year-round usually opt out of the long summer vacation.
You might teach for a few months at a time and then spend some time on vacation repeating throughout the year.
Pros of Schooling Year-Round
Teaching year-round can help your children remember academic concepts. During long breaks like summer vacation, kids forget, and you spend the first weeks of the school year reviewing skills.
Taking time consistently to study can help students to retain information. There is no need to review material at the beginning of the school year without the big summer vacation.
Cons of Schooling Year-Round
There is one standout con to homeschooling. Two words. Homeschool burnout.
If you homeschool without taking enough time to rest, you can burn out. Losing excitement about learning, feeling tired and other symptoms could point to burnout.
Homeschooling is a marathon and not a sprint.
Fitting in time to recharge is necessary. Life is full of unexpected events, and trying to keep up with homeschool can be overwhelming.
It’s ok to take time off at any point or look at a different way to homeschool.
For example, you might shift from a teacher-led homeschool model to an unschooling approach. Learning is happening in both forms.
The Quarter System for Homeschooling
When I was in college, we were on the quarter system. I liked it. We had a fall, winter, and spring quarter which were about 13 weeks each.
It’s been a long time since college, but I do remember that.
If you organize your homeschool in this way, the end of each quarter can signal a break. The end of the Fall quarter can be a nice break leading into the end-of-year holidays, and the end of Spring can mean spring break. A summer quarter can be used for learning, or use it as vacation if you like.
Special Days During Your Homeschool Year
It helps to have an organizational system for your homeschool. You can keep track of goals for the month, quarter, or year. Homeschool goals guide your day. Planning looks different for each parent.
Homeschool Breaks and Vacations
As you look through the year and plan out your homeschool calendar, consider what days you would like to take a break from homeschooling or days to go “lite” on homeschooling.
Holidays may be a time that you consider taking an extended break. For example, you may want to take an entire week off or more, depending on if you have to travel to see family for Thanksgiving.
Sometimes we get sick, or those around us need our help. It’s ok to shift and adjust homeschool to fit our choices. You can plan this ahead of time to feel more in control, or you can decide to take a break as life changes or you see fit.
What subjects should you teach in homeschool?
What you teach depends on what legal path you have chosen to homeschool. Each state is different and allows different directions to take for homeschooling.
Usually, required subjects are math, English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, and science.
In California, for example, you can file a private school affidavit and have complete freedom in what you teach.
In another instance, if you homeschool with a public charter school, you have a list of subjects you must cover.
Your family’s point of view will help you decide how you file for homeschool, which may lead to what you choose to teach or what your child chooses to learn in the case of unschooling.
Brainstorming Homeschool Family Goals
Before you consider academic goals, you can think about what you would like to see more of in your family.
You can think of activities throughout the year that can tighten family bonds. Perhaps more trips, more family game nights, less screaming, and more time outside. Siblings can get closer, and everyone can learn more about each other.
Homeschool Yearly Goal Planning
Once you decide how to structure your homeschool year, you can sit and brainstorm what you envision for the school year. Your homeschool year will look different from another homeschool mom.
I use a Rocketbook to write in or a plain piece of paper. After I write my goals, I send them to the cloud to reflect on later.
Homeschool Goal Planning by Child
Every child has a different personality, strengths, and challenges. I suggest brainstorming what you would like to see for each child and what each child would like to do, see or be for the school year.
One of my daughters asked for ballet classes for the longest time, and I finally caved with online ballet classes.
She loves it and works hard at each lesson.
Sometimes you have to go to the source: the child.
You can think about and write down what you want your child to learn in each academic subject.
Weekly Homeschool Schedule
You can schedule your homeschool schedule in a few ways: a traditional schedule, block schedule, and loop schedule. You can always switch to a different method to find the one that works best for your family right now.
A traditional school schedule is usually the most familiar. We teach all the classes during the weekday. You typically teach each subject the same amount of time.
Consider some variations where you teach a class more or less depending on the child’s interest in the subject.
For example, if a child gets easily frustrated with writing, it’s ok to spend less time writing and end a session early.
The beauty of homeschool is you can create flexible schedules each day.
You may be less familiar with block scheduling. Each day only a couple of classes are taught in a bigger “block” of time.
For example, if you plan to teach English, math, science, and social studies this school year, English and math are taught Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, you teach the other subjects, science and social studies.
Instead of teaching everything, you teach fewer subjects each day for more time.
Guess what? You can mix it up and create your type of schedule. I teach math and English daily; however, I teach science and social studies a couple of times a week.
When creating a homeschool schedule, you are an artist, and the school day is the canvas.
Are you a family that doesn’t get everything finished in a day? Same here. Your children work on what they can complete, and you continue the next day. A loop schedule may fit your family.
So maybe math and English are completed on Monday, and you continue with science and social studies the next day.
The loop schedule provides flexibility. If you only have a short time to do homeschool, you will have all your subjects covered throughout the week.
If you stick with a traditional daily schedule, you may always end up skipping the last subject on your schedule unless you stick closely with the beginning and end times of each subject.
I’m a big fan of the loop schedule this school year. With a toddler in the house, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes we don’t get to a subject as planned.
I have less mom guilt because I know we will get to it first thing tomorrow. Maybe.
Tools for Planning Your School Year
There are many choices when it comes to organizing your homeschool year, month, week, and day. You can choose paper solutions or online ones.
If you are interested in learning more ways to organize, check out my other blog post, “The 10 Best Tools to Help Homeschool Parents Stay Sane and Organized (in 2021).”
I once heard that the heart flows out to the hands, which may be why paper planning is still a favorite with many people. There are dozens of planners available to help you brainstorm yearly goals for each child’s academic, physical, and emotional needs.
I found a cute planner on Amazon, and I use it to write down curriculum choices for each kid and my homeschool shopping lists.
If I have an idea, I grab my planner from its cubby and quickly write it down.
One way to use your planner is to create yearly goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Here is an example:
I want my kid, who is in kindergarten, to read by the end of kindergarten.
“By June 2022, the little one will be able to read a kindergarten level book with 80% accuracy.”
You can list activities that will help you get there.
I will have her read a short book each day or look at flashcards of common words.
Paper planners are a great resource to brainstorm and then plan your school year.
Homeschool Planet is an all-in-one online planner designed for homeschool families. There is a calendar where you can create a schedule to make homeschool planning easier. You can create a calendar for every member of your family and add any event you need.
In addition, every member of the family can have a separate log-in. Older kids can assume responsibility for their assignments. Ideally, you check in on them at the end of the day.
Homeschool Planet also features a store where you can buy planning schedules of the most popular curriculum available. Let’s say you purchased Math-U-See as a math curriculum.
When you set up your Homeschool Planet calendar, you can load the Math-U-See planning package, and it will set the pages your child should do each day.
If you already have a calendar system with Google or iCal, Homeschool Planet integrates to make life easier.
Homeschool Planet has many features, including a system that keeps track of grades for each assignment.
My favorite feature of Homeschool Planet is the rescheduling feature. Your click one button, and your child’s work moves to the next day. Life happens, and sometimes we do not get a chance to complete the assignments we planned on doing.
If you enjoy the convenience of paper, you can print out a weekly schedule of assignments for your children.
Google Calendar is one of the most popular online calendaring systems and one I use to do block scheduling. Google Calendar is a free calendar that you can use to schedule regular sports classes, events, appointments, and blocks of time you set up to do all the other things.
Once you decide which months you will school your children, you can use Google Calendar to fill in appointments, trips, and events, not overschedule or double book your family.
I love the convenience of having my calendar on every device. I can go to the app and fill in a future appointment or make a recurring event for a relative’s birthday.
Trello is another way to organize your homeschool online. Trello is based on a Kanban system of boards, lists, and cards. If you do an internet search, people use Trello in dozens of ways. One way is to have a “to do,” “doing,” and “done” list.
Trello is a system that uses a board that has lists and inside the lists are cards. Your cards move along to the right as a task becomes “done.” Each card “flips over,” and you can add checklists, photos, docs, and so much more.
There are videos and guides on using Trello, and that alone could be an entire blog post.
An easy way to use Trello is to find a template you love and go from there. I’m not great at starting from scratch, but I can customize something easily.
I love templates. Work smarter, not harder.
Sometimes you need to write down all of your ideas and goals in one place when you plan your homeschool year. Across the board for homeschool, my personal life, business, and anything else, I use Rocketbook. Rocketbook is a reusable notebook in many varieties and sizes that can send pages to different cloud locations.
All you need is a Rocketbook, an erasable Pilot pen, and a soft wipe to get started.
I currently have the Rocketbook Fusion that has a variety of templates inside for brainstorming and planning.
I like to use the lined pages for each child. I will jot down ideas for each subject.
Next, I make a goal more specific and transfer it to my physical homeschool planner.
The Rocketbook Fusion has a monthly and weekly calendar page that works well with planning.
The Rocketbook is beneficial for all planning stages: brainstorming, goal creation, and notes about how things are going.
A place to record and move ideas forward is helpful for homeschool.
ClickUp is an online project management system. If you have tasks that have a beginning, middle, and end, you can make life easier by using a project management system like ClickUp when planning your homeschool year.
If you’re homeschooling, you are also likely managing your home and maybe working a full or part-time job. ClickUp can be used to manage all of the different pieces of your life.
Suppose you have family trips but find yourself forgetting things; use ClickUp to create templates. Checklist templates can be created and reused time and time again.
ClickUp allows you to have unlimited workspaces, and in each workspace, you can create folders and lists. In those lists, you can create reminders, subtasks, and more.
If I planned on creating a homeschool project, I could easily use ClickUp to create an ocean life unit for science that included all of my children. I would have a Space for Homeschool and a Folder for Science.
In that folder could be a list called “Ocean Life.” I could have a list of tasks that include “Field Trip to Aquarium of the Pacific.” I could then list sub-tasks to make that trip happen.
There are tutorials on YouTube (of course) and helpful articles on the Click Up website.
If a project seems too overwhelming, a project management system may help. Sometimes navigating something big like getting your child Special Education services can seem intimidating, but breaking it down can help.
Gentle Parenting in Your Homeschool for a Smooth Schedule
As a homeschooling parent, you wear a dozen hats, and having a better relationship with your kid makes everything easier. You are the parent, teacher, nurse, mediator, chauffeur, coach, counselor, and so much more.
Dr. Laura Markham, the author of Peaceful Parent Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, has a wonderful Peaceful Parenting course that teaches you to take a calmer approach to parenting.
The course is self-paced, so you can take as much time as you have each day to listen to the lessons and complete the exercises. It’s totally ok to go at your own pace.
Creating a closer relationship with your kids will make your homeschool run smoother.
It is easy to fill the school year to the brim with curricula, classes, playdates, activities, sports, trips, and other things you think everyone else is doing. Be cautious about overscheduling when planning your homeschool year.
Too much of a good thing can lead to homeschool burnout.
If you feel you are starting to get burned out, take it easy and subtract as much as possible. Your physical and emotional health are priceless.
What is Homeschool Burnout
The World Health Organization describes burnout in a job setting as:
“a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
Burnout is real. This blog post is about scheduling, so I feel I must also include the dangers of overscheduling. Remember that homeschooling is flexible when planning your homeschool year.
For example, some curricula are video-based if teaching one-on-one is not an option.
Conclusion to Planning Your Homeschool Year
There are many ways to plan for a successful homeschool year. The key is finding a structure you like and making it work with your family’s needs.
Planners and notebooks are tools that will help you brainstorm your thoughts. Next, you can create meaningful goals and reflect on them throughout the year.
Don’t forget to sign up for my free Quickstart Homeschool guide. I’ll send it over, and you’ll be a part of my newsletter.