I think the hardest part of homeschooling is lesson planning.
It’s really easy to over-plan and it’s really easy to plan too little. I’ve known some homeschool parents who have planned and scheduled every single lesson for a whole quarter, a whole semester, and even a whole year. This might seem like a good thing to do, and something that an organized person would want to do, but trust me it is not a good idea for a homeschool family to plan this way. Teachers who teach in public schools can plan like this, because they have to stick to a schedule to keep everyone in the class moving along at the same pace but the biggest perk of homeschool is that the home educating parent can move at the pace of the student.
Since students are a bit unpredictable, this means that a method to build in some flexibility is crucial.
The trick is to plan just enough.
It really is a skill and it does take practice along with some trial and error. I think of it as being much the same as learning to make bread. Some people just get it right immediately but most of us need a period of trial and error to figure out how to get something more out of the oven than a flat, heavy brick that no one wants to deal with, one that ends up either as a doorstop or in the trash. I don’t want to see you decide to use your lesson planning book for a doorstop!
I’ve tried to use those pre-printed lesson planners that you can find for sale all over the internet but that never worked out well for us. For one thing, I came to hate having to lug around a year’s worth of crossed out, erased, highlighted, and written-over lesson plans as well as months of blank ones. For another thing, the plans never exactly fit how we organized our homeschool. Some have boxes for things I don’t teach and no room to add in other things that I do teach. Some planners even have pages and pages of articles and other material we aren’t interested in and don’t need.
The only solution was to try creating something on my own.
By the way, those homeschool parents who want to plan every daily lesson for a 180 day school year nearly always end up having to scrap the entire plan when their child either learns ‘too fast’ or needs more time on a given subject.
Other homeschool parents, in trying to avoid over-planning, sometimes end up under-planning and wake up on a given school day wondering ‘what do I teach today?’ or ‘Where the heck was I going with this?’.
Lesson planning is what drives most homeschool parents to groan ‘I wish someone else would plan this entire thing out for me!” and even drives some to the internet to purchase (over-priced) curriculum plans that spell out in exhaustive detail what to do each school day. I’ve seen plans that even tell the parent what to say aloud as they explain a concept. Save your money, this isn’t that hard. I can help you.
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to use a paper planner or an online planner.
Are you a paper planning person or an online planning person? I was a paper planning person for years, but I really wanted to be an online planning person! I went through a lot of different types of planners!
I still don’t know whether I’m a paper planner or an online planner. This year it seems to be paper.
Currently I’m down to planning in one to two-week increments. I have a general idea of where I’m going beyond that, but life has been busy lately (when is it not?) and about all I can manage to get organized is a week or so at a time. Right now I’m using paper again. I made a plain old grid on my word processor and printed it out. You can have a peek if you like.
Yeah, it’s pretty basic. Last year I was an online planner and I had all these spiffy plans made up in OneNote, with links to websites and videos and all kinds of things. It was exhausting. I might do that again next year, but this year I’m going with the basic paper planner.
How do you plan your homeschool?