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How To Make An Overall Plan for The Year

Often I am asked by new homeschoolers about how to make an overall plan for the school year. They are looking for the nuts and bolts of putting lots of great ideas together because they tend to get overwhelmed by whole process. I shared the following ideas with a friend and I hope they help and encourage readers here at Curriculum Choice.

I try to emphasis to new homeschoolers that your “school day” extends far beyond the usual school hours. By making good use of that concept you can fit some school related learning into every day of the week and move some of your ideas and projects into the evenings or over the weekends so your whole family can participate.

My Steps to Pulling it All Together

1. Consider what you want to teach. What are the main points of the lessons? What are my goals for this particular year? The process of putting these thoughts on paper in a simple form gives a touchstone when considering what books, resources, and other options to use. Remember to balance academic with interest-driven learning.

Take an inventory of what materials you have on hand

Take an inventory of what materials you have on hand

2. Gather your materials to see what you have and what you might need:

  • Textbooks or workbooks (if you are going to use these)
  • Library books (look on your local library website and browse their catalog of books)
  • Games and Kits
  • Online activities (Google the topic with “lesson plan” after it or “activities” or “unit study”)
  • Field trip ideas
  • DVDs from Netflix

I usually keep a notebook page for each subject as I am planning and record my ideas on paper as I go.

3. Decide which materials best suit your child. Try to figure out which aspect of what you are learning is going to be most interesting to them.

Active learner-Short activities, lots of movement, limited table time.

Some Children Thrive on Reading Lots of Books

Some Children Thrive on Reading Lots of Books

Visual Learner-Picture books, videos, lots of art activities.
Avid Reader-Keep a list of books that can fill in your schedule and don’t forget books for subjects like science, history,  and biographies of artists and musicians.
Project Learner-Kits, models, lapbooks, and notebook pages are great for this kind of learner.

4. Divide the text, books, activities, and field trips into the desired amount of time. I prefer to move slowly through a  book and have them give an oral or written narration every day. When your children are young, working up to one paragraph per book selection per day is enough along with a drawing or a map or something that is interesting to them. I never try to do it all.  (see #6) You may wish to read this entry on my blog: Simplicity is Best.

Combine writing, art, and science into one project

Combine writing, art, and science into one project

5. Look for ways to connect subjects:

  • History and literature (historical fiction)
  • History and art and music (learn about artists and composers from the history time period)
  • Science and art (drawing diagrams or labs, drawing animals found in your neighborhood)
  • Math and science (measuring things for labs, cooking)
  • PE and math (times tables while jump roping, counting repetitions, count as you bounce a ball)

6. Have an overall plan but be flexible.
Decide if any areas are needing extra attention for this school year, make those a priority and perhaps complete them earlier in the day.

Off Season Traveling is a Great Experience

Off Season Traveling is a Great Experience

Take the opportunity for field trips-This is one reason for home schooling in the first place. Taking field trips when everyone else is back in school is so enjoyable and far less crowded.

Plan for interruptions-Divide your books into 34 or 35 weeks instead of 38 so you have some wiggle room.

7. Have a plan for things to do when your child is sick:
Educational videos while laying on the couch.
Read out loud to your child.
Listen to classical music while they rest.
Play quiet games.

8. Make use of your time spent traveling in the car:
Listen to books on tape.
Listen to folk music or classical music.
Have a box of books they can read to themselves.
Have a stack of math facts flashcards (keep in a Ziploc.)
Have a stack of sight words to read (keep in a Ziploc.)

Hopefully this post has helped you in some way, either with a few ideas to get started with or a some new ideas to try in your homeschool.

Written by Barb-Harmony Art mom.  She also blogs at http://www.harmonyartmom.blogspot.com

Barb (47 Posts)

Barb McCoy- Harmony Art Mom writes about homeschooling their teens on her blog Harmony Art Mom. and taking family outdoor adventures on her other blog, Handbook of Nature Study. She is the author and host for the Outdoor Hour Challenge and a series of ebooks helping families get started with simple nature study. Barb also founded Harmony Fine Arts which helps homeschoolers with their art and music appreciation.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Angie @ Many Little Blessings August 29, 2009, 8:25 pm

    Lots of really great ideas! Thanks!
    .-= Angie @ Many Little Blessings´s last blog ..7 Quick Takes: August 28 (Vol. 13) =-.

  • Jimmie August 30, 2009, 1:23 am

    I like what you’ve written. Start with goals. And I love how you add to look at what you’ve GOT next. Don’t start shopping right away. There are so many good curricula and living books. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Actually, most of us have lots of valuable, unused resources on our shelves. Great advice, Barb!
    .-= Jimmie´s last blog ..A Beetle and a Boatride =-.

  • Amanda September 14, 2009, 10:23 am

    Totally awesome, Barb! This is naturally how I like to do things, but I appreciate it broken down into steps for me!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Friday Nature Study =-.

  • Barb-Harmony Art Mom September 14, 2009, 10:33 am

    Amanda, I forgot to mention to have a plan for when you are sick. I was sick a few days last week and it was nice to have the boys be able to continue on as best they could without me. This takes a little training and a little planning but it is worth the effort.
    .-= Barb-Harmony Art Mom´s last blog ..So What Keeps Me Motivated? =-.

  • Edna May 6, 2012, 8:26 pm

    What curriculums can you recommend for a second grade boy, who does boy scouts, play sports, violin and 4-H. Also has a group of homeschoolers Fridays and Classical Conversations Mondays. he is now in first grade and start at a charter school in Januay; he is an honor roll student, but we are going back to homeschool this August.

  • Amber August 24, 2012, 9:53 pm

    I like your approach :) Thanks! x

  • Magic and Mayhem September 1, 2013, 1:58 pm

    I love how you make this a great balance of planning but leaving it open-ended, how you take each child’s learning style into account and how you suggest combining subjects like doing historical fiction. So many HS blogs these days make planning seem to like something that will take you a month and require accountant-level planning down to the minute for the whole year. I probably would have felt overwhelmed and incapable of HSing if I’d have seen those types of plans when I started HSing 11+ years ago. I’m glad there are still voices of reason giving such helpful, practical advice. :)
    Magic and Mayhem´s last blog post ..5 Unusual Things We’re Doing Today

  • Jennifer June 12, 2015, 12:26 pm

    I have been homeschooling for awhile, but this was still very helpful. I like your six step plan, backup activities for sick days and in the car, and your flexible attitude. It always feels good to hear a veteran homeschooler tell you that you don’t need to do it all! Thanks!
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..{p,h,f,r} My Grandmother’s House

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