It’s that time of year! The Back to School commercials will soon start, if they haven’t already. Sales are happening at stores all over, and homeschool parents everywhere are starting their final big push to get everything ready. Rather than getting caught up in the chaos, I thought I would share my top tips to prepare for your homeschool year!
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Preparing and Planning Your Homeschool
If you are anything like me, you greet the upcoming homeschool year with a collection of planner pages, co op schedules, teacher manuals, and Pinterest boards.
There are just so many great things to do, and fitting them all in is a challenge. But meeting that challenge is oddly satisfying!
Chances are, you have looked into the different homeschool methods, scheduling options, and curriculum choices. (If not, no worries – there’s still plenty of time!)
And if you’re anything like me, you have visions of perfectly planned homeschool days, dancing like sugarplums in your head. (I have no idea why sugarplums dance, much less why they dance in our heads, but there you go.)
These are all great steps to take…but the reality is, the year probably isn’t going to go exactly according to plan. At least, I’ve never had one do so!
So what’s a homeschool mom to do? Never fear. While we can’t control everything about the next several months, there are ways to effectively – and flexibly – prepare for your homeschool year!
Your Homeschool Planner
I have used so many homeschool planners over the years. Spiral-bound, downloadable, online, CD-based…the options are endless. And I’m pretty sure I’ve used them all. (Ok, maybe not…but it feels like it!)
I tried writing all my best-laid plans in beforehand, believing that this would somehow keep me on track. (It was a nice thought, while it lasted.) Having a gifted/2E child and health issues, this somehow never seemed to work. He either went far faster than I ever thought possible or illness hit and set us back several days.
Then, I tried scheduling a week at a time. This was easier to keep up with, but if I forgot to do it…well, the week didn’t exactly start off in an organized way.
Finally, I came up with a system that worked for us. I got my son involved, allowed him to pick his courses and curriculum, and let him help set his assignments.
Would I suggest this exact schedule for everyone? No…because it won’t work for everyone. It does work incredibly well for us, though, and it’s easy to adjust to your needs.
The moral of the story…don’t feel like you are a slave to your planner, and don’t feel like you have to do whatever everyone’s raving about. Be willing to be flexible and do what works best for your family.
Choosing and Planning Curriculum for Your Homeschool
Maybe you’ve had your curriculum picked out since the spring, and you’ve got it lined up and ready to go.
Or maybe, you’re still looking – or even just starting. (This is totally acceptable too, promise!)
I’ve learned a lot about planning curriculum over the past 14 years of homeschooling…but the most important lesson I learned is that curriculum is not my master.
This was a hard lesson to learn. Having a son that learns in very “out of the box” ways, we’ve gone through a lot of curriculum over the years. Some of our choices were a great fit, and some…well, not so much.
Live and learn.
What I learned, both from the great choices and those that were not a great fit, is that curriculum is simply a tool. It’s a very helpful one, but at the end of the day, that’s all it is.
Planning Your Homeschool with Flexibility
The teacher’s manual gives a schedule, but that doesn’t mean I’m required to follow it.
Projects will be suggested, but if they don’t fit our schedule or our needs, they’re not the only acceptable way to learn.
Books will be assigned, but if they’re not what my son needs to be reading (for whatever reason), I’ll choose a different title.
And that’s ok!
When we first began homeschooling, I did everything “by the book,” because that’s what the book said to do. This is common when we first start out, and there’s really nothing wrong with that.
However, as you find that changes need to be made, feel free to make them. You have that power.
Does your student need to work faster or slower than the teacher’s manual suggests? Go right ahead. We’ve done both, with good results each time.
Does the material need to be presented in different ways for your student to truly grasp it? It’s just fine to tweak things here and there, or even to use a variety of materials if necessary. Do what works best for your child.
Do you need to add projects in or take assignments out? Good news – you can! (One caveat…don’t do this because you simply don’t want to teach a skill or subject. They’re there for a reason! But if something isn’t working, it’s fine to do it another way.)
It’s Your Homeschool!
The main thing to remember about preparing for your homeschool year is to do what works best for you and your family. I promise!
One of the reasons most of us homeschool is to be able to give our kids the education that is right for them. This means that for each of us, homeschool planning and preparation is going to look different. It should.
If you’re the mom that has everything planned out, down to the details, fantastic. More power to you! (And may I say, I’m truly impressed!)
If you’re the mom that is combining resources, putting together units, and planning a bit at a time, high five. You’re not alone.
However you organize, however you prepare, be confident in what works best for you. Know that you are doing what it takes to raise and educate your children, and that you are making a difference!