How to Plan Your Homeschool Year (even if you’re not really a planner)

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I walk some strange line between being an organized planner and being a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type. I have to have a weekly schedule to keep me on track, however, the thought of planning more than two or three weeks out makes my head spin.

My yearly plan generally consists of purchasing our curriculum and knowing that we’ll work through it a week at a time until we’re finished. This has been effective enough for me over the last few years. First, with Trail Guide to Learning, which was set up in six week units, making my yearly plan simple enough, then with the textbook/workbooks that my teens are now using.

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year

That was all good enough for me – until I was asked by a mutual friend to review Blueprint Homeschooling, by Amy Knepper. Mutual friend or not, I often have trouble reading non-fiction books. So, I had to check it out on Amazon to see if I thought it would hold my attention before agreeing to review the book.

I’ve been homeschooling for well over a decade, I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, and I’m only a sort-of-kind-of planner, but after reading the synopsis of the book it really sounded interesting.

Even with my somewhat laissez faire attitude toward planning, Blueprint Homeschooling got me excited about the possibility of planning out – {gasp} – an entire year of homeschooling. The key to success, I think, is in the book’s subtitle: How to Plan a Year of Home Education that Fits the Reality of Your Life. So often, we leave out the “reality of life” part when planning – even if we’re only planning for the upcoming week!

How to plan a year of homeschooling with Blueprint Homeschooling

Amy suggests, right off the bat, that you read through the book twice. With my track record for non-fiction, I thought I’d be doing good to read through it once. However, there are action steps throughout the book. People like me would get totally bogged down trying to do each action step before seeing the big picture and learning how everything falls into place.

Amy takes readers step-by-step through the planning process, working from that big picture, then breaking each step into smaller, bite-sized pieces until a task that seemed overwhelming at the beginning seems completely doable – and even preferable to my style of planning, which is just a step or two up from winging it.

She starts with helping readers pinpoint their homeschool values, since your reasons for homeschooling will guide the decisions that you make. Next up, Amy outlines several homeschool styles to help you figure out what educational philosophies drive your homeschool. These topics are followed by:

  • Goal-setting
  • Choosing and using curriculum
  • Calendars – yearly, monthly, and, finally, weekly
  • Making it work

There are 43 action steps to walk readers through the entire process, one completely-doable step at a time. In addition, there is a section at the end of the book with tips for evaluating how your yearly planning went and suggestions for getting back on track if the plans go awry. There is also a section summarizing the entire process for those who could use a refresher overview.

What I liked about Blueprint Homeschooling

Y’all may or may not know, but in the early days of our homeschool, it was not uncommon for me to piece together our family’s history and science curriculum. That’s probably why I really liked the fact that Amy included detailed tips on how to put together, organize, and schedule your own do-it-yourself curriculum for science and history.

homeschool planning tips

I also really appreciated the whole breakdown of a yearly to a monthly to a weekly schedule. I always envisioned yearly planning would be me sitting buried under a pile of books for a week, trying to map out our entire year. However, Amy’s method of first mapping out the general context of your year completely makes sense.

Before you even pull out curriculum, you’re taking a look at the general ebb and flow of the upcoming year. Are there holidays, classes, or co-ops that are going to affect your homeschool? What about vacations or life events, such as a move or the birth of a new baby?

Developing a yearly outline makes it easy to see when you’ll be able to hit school hard and heavy and when you may need to plan a more flexible schedule.

As you can probably tell, Blueprint Homeschooling got me more excited about planning our upcoming school year than I’d expected. Even though my teens will just be working through their textbooks for the most part, I do see the benefits of planning out our year. There are things I want to do in our school next year that stand a much better chance of coming to fruition by taking a bit of time to plan right now.

And now is the time for planning, according to Amy. Last year is still fresh on your mind. You know where your kids left off in books that weren’t finished. You know what areas they may be struggling with that might need some extra attention next year. There is time to take advantage of curriculum sales before next fall. And, perhaps, my favorite reason because it’s so true – we’re all still tired from last year, which makes it much easier to plan realistically. If you’ve homeschooled for more than a couple of years, you recognize the truth of that last statement.

There is something to be gleaned from Blueprint Homeschooling for most homeschooling parents. If you’re a brand-new homeschooling parent, you’ll probably find every chapter useful. If you’ve been at this awhile, you’ve probably figured out your homeschool values and methods, but you’ll likely still pick up some useful planning tips – and much needed inspiration.

You can pick up a copy of Blueprint Homeschooling from Amazon for $11.95 in paperback or $4.99 on Kindle.

What is your biggest hurdle when it comes to planning your homeschool year? What do you think would be the biggest benefit to doing so?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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