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Monday, February 23, 2015

6 Forms for Successful Homeschool Planning

Homeschool Planning
Maureen Wittmann

(If you’d like to read more on this topic, see “Scheduling: Finding Order in Chaos” by Maureen Wittmann in The Catholic Homeschool Companion [Sophia Institute Press].)

Every homeschool parent approaches planning the school year a little differently. The following ideas and forms are only suggestions. Take what works for you and your homeschool. Tweak and adjust until it fits your family dynamic.

I suggest setting aside dates on your calendar or daily planner for your homeschool planning days. It is a task that takes considerable time and thought. Plan ahead so you can block out time to meet with individual children. You'll also need alone time. See if you can have your spouse or a grandparent take the children for extended periods of time so you can have quiet time to peruse your homeschool catalogs, review online classes, check with local support group leaders about co-ops, etc. Then, put it all to paper.

Here are a series of forms to help organize your school plan for the year. Each form includes instructions and examples. They will automatically download as Word (docx) files. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions.

6 Steps for Successful Homeschool Planning:

STEP 1. As the current school year begins to wind down, take time to prayerfully reflect on the success of your school year. Write down what worked well and what didn’t.

Use this form: Reviewing Last Year

STEP 2. Before the beginning of the school year, put together a “course of study.” I suggest June, when everything is fresh in your mind but you’ve had a chance to reflect on the year. Your “course of study” will include all of the courses you want to tackle throughout the entire school year. This is a broad plan. You’ll write down goals, books to be used, and enrichment ideas.

Use this form: Annual Course of Study

STEP 3. Take your annual goals and break them down month by month.  By looking at the year month by month, you can make arrangements for holidays and preplanned events.

STEP 4. At the beginning of the each quarter, write out a quarterly course of study. This is similar to what you did for the year, only with more detail. This gives you the opportunity to review your current achievements and make adjustments for any unforeseen events. You can also make adjustments for children who are advancing at a different rate than expected.

Use this form: Quarterly Course Plan

STEP 5. The final scheduling form is the weekly itinerary. Every weekend, sit down and complete the plan for the next week. If your child is older and self-directed, then he or she can complete this step alone. This itinerary is then given to each child on Monday morning. They can check off tasks as they are completed.

Use this form: Weekly Itinerary

STEP 6. If you are scheduling your day hour by hour, then I have a daily planning form for you. This is important to use if you have time commitments such as live, interactive online classes, lessons outside the home, club meetings, etc.

Use this form: Daily Itinerary 

Note: I am not the original creator of some of these forms.  A friend gave them to me when I began homeschooling twenty years ago. Ever since, I’ve been tweaking them, sharing them far and wide, and making excellent use of them in my own homeschool.  It is my hope that you will be able to make excellent use of them as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Homeschool Planning: Reviewing Last Year

20 Questions to Ask Before Planning Your Homeschool Year

Before beginning to plan the next school year, it's important to first review the current year. Here is a form to help you reflect on your successes and failures: Reviewing My Homeschool Year (will download as a Word file). By honestly answering these questions, you can begin the process of making next school year your best year ever!

Here are 20 questions to ask yourself about this school year:
  • What were our greatest successes? 
  • Where did we fail? 
  • Am I happy with our homeschool “philosophy”? 
  • What was our best homeschool day? 
  • What was our worst homeschool day? 
  • How was my time management?
  • What subjects were completed successfully? 
  • What subjects are still uncompleted? 
  • Does my husband have any concerns? 
  • Do my children have any concerns? 
  • How was discipline handled? 
  • How was our home management? 
  • How was our spiritual life intertwined into our homeschool?
  • What was each child’s greatest success? (List out each child.) 
  • What social activities benefited our family and our homeschool the most? 
  • Do any of my children have special needs or learning disabilities that needed to be addressed? 
  • Did I experience burnout? 
  • Did the children experience burnout?
  • Did we utilize local support? 
And finally ...
  • Why do we homeschool? List all reasons, big and small.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Top-10 Tips for Homeschool Planning for High School

Over the next week, I'll be writing a series of posts on planning the school year. Once the series is complete, I'll pull the posts together into one cohesive document to share on the website. I will also include actual planning forms to give you solid, practical help.

To start, here are some basics for making a multi-year plan along with the first of the planning forms:

Top-10 List:
Planning the high school years with Homeschool Connections.
  1. Determine what courses are needed to meet basic graduation requirements. Here is help to get you started: Basic Scope and Sequence for College-Bound Catholic Students. You could also use your state's requirements as a base to start.
  2. Review your child's coursework to date. On your scope and sequence, cross off courses completed so far.
  3. Make a list of courses still needed for graduation. Determine how you will spread them out over the remaining high school years.
  4. Ask your child about future goals. A student who wants to be a programmer will take different courses than a student who wants to be a chemist. 
  5. Determine your student's strengths and weaknesses. For example a student who struggles with language, but learns well using a multi-sensory methods (dyslexic children often fall into this category), may do better with American Sign Language than with Spanish. 
  6. Take into consideration your student's loves. An example here is a student who loves to write stories. That student should take more of our fiction-writing courses. They will still learn important writing skills in addition to learning litererary analysis. The bonus is that they will enjoy learning it more in a creative-writing atmosphere. 
  7. Once you have taken the above steps, you will have a strong idea of where you want to go in the future. Now open and save the HSC course catalogs and review all the options available to you. 
  8. Look for other resources to help you and your child meet goals. Books; websites; local co-ops; other online course providers; etc.
  9. Seek out advice from other homeschooling parents. If you're having trouble with a needed course or can't decide on the best path to take, go to your local or online support group. We're also here to help you at
  10. Free planning forms can be found at: Homeschool Planning Forms

Use this form to complete these steps successfully: Planning High School with HSC (Word document will download automatically).