How to Create a Big Picture Homeschool Un-Plan

Homeschooling planning, do you love it or dread it?

To me, homeschool planning can be fun and invigorating when I’m in the mood to plan. However, it can also be a huge hurdle that I have no desire even to attempt to scale.

So how do I make it something to enjoy rather than avoid, and also leave it open-ended enough for spontaneity?

How to Create a Big Picture Homeschool Un-Plan

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Get Comfortable

If I’m going to embark on a planning session, I need to be comfortable and have a cup of tea or coffee handy. There is nothing wrong with bribing yourself with a little treat if that’s what it takes to get you going.

Have the resources you intend to use ready and if you’re unsure about what you would like to use at least have an idea of where you would like to focus.

Homeschool Strewing

Reverse Homeschool Planning

My planning seems to be a little backward compared to some, and my scheduling is non-existent, but we like it more this way.

I tend to think of my large goals first, such as:

  • Partner with my oldest child who is starting dual enrollment and give her the support she needs.
  • My next two children need to increase the amount of time they spend reading on their own and become a little more independent with their work.
  • The youngest two girls need to read aloud to me and increase their fluency.
  • Everyone needs to move forward in math and gain new understanding.
  • Have fun with field trips, projects, and outside activities.
  • Hope to develop a more thoughtful rhythm for our days.
  • Include a freewriting session each week.

Notice, I don’t mention finishing a certain level of a math curriculum or completing a definite number of workbooks.  I try to use my family as my method, and focus on what each child needs rather than what is associated with a certain “grade-level.”

These are the big goals I’m addressing, there will be other read alouds and subjects, but this is what I want to achieve each week even if everything else falls apart.

Homeschool planning

Develop a Framework

As I look at my reverse plan, I consider how I can make these priorities a reality. My oldest is reasonably independent, but I know she will need me to prompt her at times to make sure she is on track with her courses. Perhaps we should schedule a time or two each week to go over what she has planned and what needs to be done?

To increase the time my girls are reading independently, we’ve agreed they will read at least one book per week. This first week one daughter is reading James and the Giant Peach, and the other is reading Who Was Rachel Carson?  I think we will rotate through fiction, history, science, etc., as they read this year.

They are also using CTCMath and Khan Academy for math instruction, which they can usually do independently, and Khan Academy for grammar.

For the younger two girls, we are choosing books for them to read aloud to me at the library each week and solidifying their phonics understanding. They are also continuing in CTCmath.

Since I’m looking at the week and year as a whole, I go ahead and start my calendar early. We have co-op on Mondays and music most of Friday. Therefore my main days to work at home or field trips are Tuesday-Thursday. So I try to plan out field trips early. There are certain ones we are very interested in, and we don’t want to say yes to one we’re not as excited about and stretch ourselves too thin.

I’m also working on creating a more peaceful rhythm for our days, and as much as I would like this not to be true, the rhythm originates with me. So I’ve tried to be more intentional about meal times, blogging times, and getting things done early because none of us wants to have things hanging over us still at 3 in the afternoon.

Last on my simple list, was integrating a weekly free write into our routine. We have been haphazard with this activity, but I would love to implement it consistently. I’ve set aside Friday morning before we leave for music as our time for free writing.

Want to know more about free writing? Download Brave Writer’s Free Write Frenzy free lessons.

Create a Flexible Plan

Honestly, I don’t have a “plan, ” nothing is on paper, and I don’t have a daily checklist. What I do have is an idea of where we want to go and simple steps to get us there.

I also know that flexibility is essential for me to be a happy, homeschool mom. We have to make room for spontaneity, such as:

  • Glorious fall days we would like to spend at the park
  • Unexpected field trip opportunities
  • Holidays and travel
  • Sick days when we least expect them
  • Strewing opportunities

I don’t want these things to leave me feeling as if we’re “behind” and we need to catch up.

This is life and learning can happen at any time.

The Big Picture Homeschool Un-Plan

So there are my un-planned ideas for another year of learning as our calendar ramps up, and we take on new commitments.

I’m sure this will change over the next few weeks as we see how we’ll adjust to our new schedule.

Over the years I have realized that homeschool planning can be an excellent exercise in high expectations and humility, which is why I have scaled back my ideas of a homeschool plan.

If you would like to have a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of homeschool planning, check out my post at All the Homeschool Things.

Homeschool strewing

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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

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