It’s that time of year again. That time when we’re getting ready to put the current year behind us and start thinking about the next school year.
Whether you follow a strict scope & sequence or you unschool or somewhere in between, it’s good to write out a plan. This helps you and your children set goals and to visualize how you will achieve those goals. Every homeschool parent approaches homeschool planning a little differently. The following ideas and forms are only suggestions. Take what works for you and your homeschool. Tweak and adjust until it fits your family dynamic.
I suggest setting aside dates on your calendar for homeschool planning. It is a task that takes considerable time and thought. Plan ahead so you can block out time to meet with individual children. You’ll also need alone time. See if you can have your spouse or a grandparent take the children for extended periods of time so you can have quiet to peruse your homeschool catalogs, review online classes, check with local support group leaders about co-ops, or attend a Catholic homeschool conference. Then, put it all to paper.
You can keep track of planning forms one of two ways. First, you can print out forms, three-hole punch them. and keep in a designated three-ring binder. The binder should be clearly labeled and kept in an easy-to-access, designated space. Or, you can create a virtual filing cabinet for planning forms on your computer. Make sure folders are clearly labeled and well organized. Also make sure to save in a cloud or on a memory stick in case of computer failure.
With all that said, let’s get down to work. Following are a series of blank forms to help you organize your family’s school plan for the next year. Each form includes instructions and examples. They will automatically download as Word (docx) files.
6 Forms for Successful Homeschool Planning:
Suggested time of year: April or May
As the current school year begins to wind down, take time to prayerfully reflect on its successes and failures. Go before the Blessed Sacrament; pray your rosary; pray a novena as a family. Ask God to help you see His will in your homeschool. Ask Him to help your children see His will in their futures and in their vocations.
Begin by pulling out your plans from a year ago. Review the original plan and reflect on what actually took place. This should be a family activity. Include your children and your husband in reviewing the past school year. This exercise will help you see how you can continue to build on your successes and how to mend any failures.
You may even want to ask your local friends, “What did you see as successes or hardships in my homeschool?” They are looking in from the outside, but if they are connecting with your family through co-ops, sports, or clubs, they may have valuable insights for you.
Ask yourself questions such as “What was our best homeschool day and why?”; “What subjects are uncompleted?”; “Does my husband have concerns?”; and “How was discipline handled?”
Get your thoughts organized so that you can see more clearly how to proceed next year. Write down what worked and what didn’t work. This will help you determine if you need to make changes to your homeschool philosophy, curriculum, outside activities, or home management.
Use this form: Reviewing Last Year
Suggested time of year: June
While the current school year is still fresh in your mind and you’ve had a chance to truly reflect on it, create a “course of study.” This broad plan will include all of the courses you want to tackle throughout the entire school year. You’ll write down goals, books to be used, and enrichment ideas.
Of course, life happens and your plan will not likely work out exactly as you envision. Even so, your plan gives you a good foundation upon which to build. If there are upsets in your life that take you off course, you can always pull out the written plan to help you get back on track.
Use this form: Annual Course of Study
Suggested time of year: July
Take your annual goals and break them down month by month. This helps you make arrangements for holidays and preplanned events. For example, if you are expecting a baby in January you will want to allot time off at least during that month and make it up either earlier or later in the year. Another example is the family that schools year round, but at a more relaxed or slower pace.
This form only needs to be completed once a year for each student. It should be reviewed at the beginning of every month to see how well you are staying on track and to see if you need to make any adjustments.
Use this form: Yearly Schedule: Monthly Goals
Suggested time of year: August; October; December; February
At the beginning of the each quarter, write out a quarterly course of study. This is similar to what you did for the year, only with more detail. This gives your family the opportunity to review your current achievements and make adjustments for any unforeseen events. You can also make adjustments for children who are advancing at a different rate than expected.
Use this form: Quarterly Course Plan
The final scheduling form is the weekly itinerary. Every weekend, sit down and complete the plan for the next week. If your child is older and self-directed, then he or she can complete this step alone. This itinerary is then given to each child on Monday morning. They can check off tasks as they are completed.
Use this form: Weekly Itinerary
If you are scheduling your day hour by hour, then I have a daily planning form for you. This is important to use if you have time commitments such as live, interactive online classes, lessons outside the home, club meetings, etc. You don’t want to schedule a doctor’s appointment for the same time you have violin lessons.
Use this form: Daily Itinerary
Following these 6 steps will help you and your family determine what you want out of your homeschool and how you will accomplish it.
Note: I am not the original creator of some of these forms. A friend gave them to me when I began homeschooling twenty years ago. Ever since, I’ve been tweaking them, sharing them far and wide, and making excellent use of them in my own homeschool. It is my hope that you will be able to make excellent use of them as well.
Copyright 2015 Maureen Wittmann.