We've been homeschooling now for 7 years. This coming year we will have 3 kiddos actively doing school. To say that I am nervous is an understatement. Two kids seemed manageable but three? Ahh! Every February I start thinking ahead to the new school year. I start reading reviews and looking at new programs. I start evaluating the progress and struggles my kids have had over the previous 6 months. I make lists, lots and lots and lots of lists, filled with book choices, study ideas, videos, etc. By the end of March I usually have way to many options collected. I usually take a week or two off to decompress after the initial information gathering just so I can clear my mind and hone in on our goals. This makes wading through my lists come purchase time very easy.
Planning a school year can be an overwhelming task for even the most organized veteran mom, but it doesn't have to be. This year I thought I would add my 5 tips for successful homeschool planning.
1. Relax!!!!- This is hands down the very most important tip. I know we all want our kids to succeed and we want them to be as smart as they can be, but don't forget the other reasons you chose to homeschool. Family time, flexibility, travel time, can all be a nightmare if mom is going crazy with an over packed schedule. Take a deep breath before you start and go into the planning phase with a clear mind. It's not a battle but a journey to enjoy.
2. Evaluate the why- Every year it's a good idea to ask the question "Why are we homeschooling?" For us these reasons have changed a bit here and there over the years. If you can answer the big Why question, it will help guide your curriculum and planning choices.
3. Take it slow- I start months in advance because if I don't I start spending lots of extra money on things that don't work for us. Why? Because I panic and I have a list and it needs to be checked off now! Not the best start to a school year. I like to start in February because the winter doldrums have set in. Planning gives my mood a boost to get me through the end of the year. Pick a time that works for you. Think about outside commitments, travels, extracurricular activities, etc. If possible, don't choose a time when you are overwhelmed by life and want to cry daily. :)
4. Ask for input- Kids have their own interests like the rest of us. If you have a year study planned of US history but your child really wants to learn more about Knights, then history studies may not go smoothly. Think about working in their own interests along with your ideas. This will allow them to get a broad range of information and still stay interested. Kids will often come up with large project based ideas. These are great opportunities for them to learn so much more than just dry facts. Pulling together a large project takes a lot of work and planning. If your child is interested in a project, encourage it as much as you can.
5. Remember the future- You don't have to teach everything this year. You don't even have to teach 25% of everything this year. Learning is a journey and a personal one at that. Some kids will devour everything you give them plus some. Others will dawdle with the same 5 books for a year. The goal isn't to cram them full of information but to instill a love of learning in them. They can (and will) learn all they need as they continue to grow up. They have wide open futures with plenty of time to learn all they need and want.