(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.
Use this form: Yearly Schedule: Monthly Goals
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.