The preparation for the next year of homeschooling is well under way for many homeschoolers, including us. Most of our subjects are not completed yet since we homeschool year round. But I am currently working on the upcoming school year right now. I came up with a system last year to help me prepare and plan for the upcoming year. It is an eight step process, which may seem like a few too many, but it helps me break down what I need to do to make the best decisions for the kids, the family and myself. The entire process can take some time and each step is done with prayer.
These are the eight steps I take to work out what we will be doing in the upcoming year.
- Determine priorities.
- Consider what is working.
- Think about what needs to change.
- Look into available options.
- Discuss as family.
- Determine what will be using.
- Purchase anything needed.
- Plan the yearly schedule.
I think it is important for our family to determine what our priorities are for the upcoming year before we start the actual planning. This keeps us on track when making curriculum choices, choosing extra-curricular activities, scheduling and when making decisions over all. A previous blog post, “Know Your Why,” shares how we determine our priorities.
What is Working
Even though we are not finished with our current subjects, I have a good idea of what is and is not working for us right now. I have discussed with the kids what they enjoy and dislike about the materials we are using for each subject. We’ve also discussed what subjects they would like to add or remove for the upcoming year. It is also important for me to consider HOW each child learns best, since they are very different.
What Needs to Change
Next I look at each subject for things that might not be working well. This includes all the materials that we use for each, like workbooks, textbooks, maps, CD ROMS, DVDs, etc. The following list is some questions I might ask myself, and the kids, about each subject and materials.
- Were the materials easy or difficult for me to use?
- Did the materials cover what we thought it would for the subject?
- Were we happy with what was covered for the subject?
- Was the time it took to cover the subject reasonable?
Once we determine what changes are needed, I start looking into the available options. I have a good general idea of what I am looking for since the family has already discussed our priorities, what is working and what is not working. This is a list of a few of the places I check out for options that might work for us.
- Materials already in our homeschool library
- Materials already downloaded on my computer
- Blogs of other homeschoolers
- Blogs of homeschool product reviews
- Google search for subject with grade and “homeschool”
- Homeschool curriculum supply companies
- Homeschooling books that I have on hand
- Ask local homeschoolers
After picking the options that might work for us, I will do more research into the materials to see if they will be a good match. I usually pick between two and four options so we have a good selection.
Discuss as a Family
Next we sit down as a family to look over what selections we have for the upcoming year. I will printout a list of subjects and materials we are currently using. Another list I make is the subjects that we are and might be covering next with the different options of curriculum and materials. We all look over these lists and I share any information I’ve collected about the curriculum and materials, including printouts or catalogs. We share what we like or do not like and I make notes. We also go over our priorities again to be sure we are keeping them in mind while considering the materials.
Will Be Using
Once we’ve gone over all of the information as a family, I sit down to pray and make some decisions. I will review notes, look over samples online or in catalogs, pray again. I will look in our homeschool library and on my computer another time. Then I will finally make my curriculum list.
The list of curriculum is not the end of my process. Now I need to check prices, availability and shipping time before making my purchases. Next I finalize my list with purchasing price, where purchasing from, when it was purchased and the estimated delivery date. Once the ordered materials arrive I write that date on my list too. If the materials need to be downloaded I write the site’s full web address, the name of the website, the name of the materials, the date I downloaded it, the purchasing price and the storage folder on my computer.
The last step to my process is to plan and schedule the upcoming year. This includes marking my calendar for days off and vacations. Next I review each subject’s materials to figure out the best way to break it down for our schedule. This is usually done in six week chunks to fit our Year Round Homeschool schedule. Next I’ll write the basic break down that I’ve chosen in my planner for each subject.
- 125 lessons
- Test after 5 lessons
- Two review lessons
- Final test
Lessons 1 – 25 with 5 tests (six weeks + one off) 9/5-10/21
Week off for vacation 10/24-10/28
Lessons 26 – 50 with 5 tests (six weeks + one off) 10/31-12/9
Lessons 51 – 55 with 1 test (one week) 12/12-12/23
Week Off 12/26-12/30 (work holiday)
Lessons 56 – 75 with 4 tests (five weeks + one off) 01/2-2/10
Lessons 76 – 100 with 5 tests (six weeks + one off) 2/13-3/31
Lessons 101 – 125 with 5 test (six weeks + one off) 4/3-5/19
Two weeks off for vacation 5/22-6/2
Reviews with final test (one week)6/5-6/9
Once I’ve done this for each subject I plan the first six weeks in my weekly planner sheets. I also list any extras we might need like books, videos, or other supplies. I also check into field trips that might correspond to the upcoming lessons. I will review what the next six weeks might include after we’ve completed at least four of the current weeks. After each six week segment is done we take a week break, which gives me time to plan the next six weeks. We continue this until the next school year.
While finishing up the current year we have begun our steps to plan the next. It may seem like over-kill but my retired-engineer, detail-oriented loving self needs to keep on track by breaking it all down. I hope some of the ideas can help others to be prepared for the upcoming school year.