The Big Plan
When we first started home schooling it took 8-12 weeks for books to arrive so I needed to plan months ahead. Subsequently, I began planning in July, to get my orders in by September, aiming to receive my books by November. The planning is only half done when you have decided on and ordered your books. Once you receive them you will need to work out how to schedule and pace the lessons to fit in with your lifestyle. You may even find that you don’t like some of them and need to order something else instead. With this in mind, it is not good planning to order books in January for a new year start! But alas, this is what 80% of home educators do. If you want to feel organised and reduce pressure on yourself, so you can get off to the best start possible for the new year, planning way ahead is the key.
Beginning to plan mid-year for the following homeschool year can get you excited for the planning you will continue at the end of the year, and take the edge off any mid-year doldrums you might be feeling. You will enjoy your summer holidays so much more knowing that your planning is done. Plan in winter, play in summer!
Besides having a year by year plan, I always made a long-term plan for each child. This would span several years into the future, giving me a big picture of goals for each of them. It was a bare-bones outline helping me to stay on track, with ideas that could be brought forward or delayed at my discretion and according to each child's progression as each year passed. This plan was the most inspirational of all my plans. In this one I would record ideas for the future so I wouldn't forget them; book lists; notes for the younger ones from experiences learned from teaching the older ones. It helped me choose curricula that would prepare my child for those things that we wanted to achieve.
I used an ordinary A4 notebook, perhaps one for each child, or one with dividers in it, one section for each child. However, many of us prefer to do this on our computers these days. Write in pencil (I write in pencil for everything!) so you can change things easily. Section off a few pages for each age or ‘grade level’ of the child. Divide each section into a two-page spread then divide into columns (the amount will depend on what you want to include). Write your subject areas down the left side of the left page, a few lines for each. My first column right next to the subject area was for curriculum, next book lists, then hands on stuff like kits, games, etc, fourthly excursions/field trips/activities and lastly comments and notes. These notes included any recommendations, tweaks or heads up knowledge that I’d collected along the way and any relevant government jargon. If you are in a state that requires you to outline everything according to the state’s syllabus or curriculum, make a column for that, too.
Whatever you record for the first child will make planning for the younger children easier. And big bonus – it will help control your curriculum spending! Ever forgotten what you did with a previous child, and bought something else instead, when you could’ve reused the previous one again? Hmmm.
This exercise can be a lot of fun. While we cannot know for certain which direction our child’s lives will go, it is always good to have a big picture plan as a reference point to assist them in getting their own direction and encouraging them in their gifts. Together with your records of what they have done, you can tweak and change the plan as much as you want, all the while refining the future goals.
It’s a good habit that you will be grateful for next year.