I am in the midst of planning my homeschool year for my two older boys, and I must say started out feeling a little overwhelmed! I'm so excited about making this year great, but it's easy to get bogged down by the wealth of information out there. I don't want to over-schedule or attempt to do too much--but I also don't want to slack off and miss out!
Tonight, I did a ton of research in my final push to finalize our homeschool calendar. When I started, I was fairly confident that I was almost done planning. But, God help me, I traveled down the internet rabbit hole and ended up feeling vastly unprepared!! How can I wrangle all this great information and all of these wonderful projects in to a workable curriculum?
Start with the big picture.
I started my planning by writing out a list of learning goals for each child. To help determine my goals, I used common core standards, as well as picking the brains of a few teacher friends. These goals are definitely big-picture, with no real detail. For instance, under goals for reading for my first grader, I wrote, "reading at a first grade level." Not so specific, but it makes a good starting point for my next planning step.
Define each goal in detail.
After drafting a list of learning goals, I took each one and defined it further to make it more tangible. Adding details to each goal helps you grasp what it really is you want your child to learn. "Reading at a first grade level" becomes "reads some materials independently," "understands phonics concepts," and "shows comprehension of reading materials." As you add definition to your goals, you'll start to better understand how to make those goals in to lesson plans.
Choose materials to help reach your goals.
My next step was to create a table of my goal details and explain what texts and materials we will need to reach that goal. For reading, I wrote things like "reading together once a day," The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (my text of choice), and "reading worksheets." At this point, my brain started descending from the clouds and I began to feel like I really understood how I was going to get our homeschooling goals under control!
Develop a calendar.
Just like I started with a big picture with our learning goals, I began with a monthly calendar, defining smaller goals for each month, and then each week. I use a homeschool lesson planner that helps me when I get to the weekly level; it has a table for each subject and you can write your assignments for each day by subject. I rarely plan things for every single day, and honestly I don't care which day the lesson gets finished, but it's good to have a rough idea of what should happen each week so you make sure it all stays on track.
Organize materials and get ready to learn!
Now that the calendar is done, the lessons are (somewhat) planned, and I've chosen curriculum, it's time to get everything easily accessible for daily lessons. Last year, I started creating "weekly workbooks" for my children, with all of the worksheets for the week in one binder so they know exactly where to find them. This is also nice for record keeping, as it shows week-by-week what we accomplished. I've seen a similar concept used by subject, with a journal for each, but I love the binder because it keeps everything from the whole year together in one spot.
I still have some refining to do, but I'm very excited about how far I've come in planning this year's curriculum in a pretty short time. I can't wait until the planning is over and it's time to do some learning!
How do you plan for a new school year? Let me know if you've got any stellar tips!