{Effective Homeschool Habits} Prioritize and Plan

As you approach the beginning of your homeschool year, spend time evaluating your priorities.  Once you’ve aligned your priorities, planning for the year is the next step.  I’ve survived the planning stage and we’ve begun our homeschool year this week.  I’ll share a few tips I’ve discovered for prioritizing and planning for your year. 

In order to discover the priorities for your homeschool, begin with the end in mind.  First, write a mission statement to outline the vision for your homeschool.  You can read more about the importance of a mission statement here as well as read the Lextin Academy Mission Statement.

Write Goals
I’ve decided to throw my old plan books out the window for this year.  Instead, I’m going to write out monthly goals and objectives for each child and for myself.  The attainment of these goals will be how I measure success this year.  They will also force me to keep my priorities firmly in place.

Plan Your Year
How many days will you school?  Will you school year round or follow the local school schedule?  Will you do work on weekends?  Or will you just have a 4-day school week?  Decide how your homeschool best functions and outline your year on the calendar.  Choose extracurricular activities wisely and don’t allow yourself to overcommit.  Don’t forget to plan days to simply be at home.  After all, it is called “home” school for a reason!  You will need days to relax, recharge, or plow ahead in the school work.  

Plan Curriculum
Once you’ve recognized your priorities and written out goals, choose the curriculum that best puts you on a path to achieving those goals.  (You can read more about what we’ve chosen for our new year here).  It’s time to research and choose curriculum, which can be the most daunting or the most exciting part of your homeschool journey.  There are so many choices, but in the end, pick one and plan how you will make that curriculum fit into your homeschool day.  I like to write down how many lessons there are in each subject and then determine how many lessons I need to complete per week to finish on schedule.  Then I work toward that goal, knowing that we will fall short on some weeks and far surpass our goal in other weeks.

Plan for Change
You will change your plans; you will change your mind; you will change curriculum on occasion.  Plan for these interruptions.  Schedule some flexibility into your plans.  We homeschool year-round and I plan for every 6 weeks to be a review week that I can use to catch up in case we’ve had a crazy week, an off week, or a week of sickness.  These break weeks can also allow us to follow our interests and complete unit studies or art projects.  I know that our plans will be interrupted so I plan ahead for those changes!

Create a Schedule
The most helpful tool I have discovered is the schedule.  I cannot function without my daily schedule.  I have actually typed up a colorful grid schedule that is broken into 30 minute time increments and dictates what each person will be doing during each block of time.  (You can see a sample of our Spring 2013 Schedule here).  This may sound rigid, but I’ve found that I have the greatest amount of flexibility when I stay within my schedule.  Having a well-planned day allows me to spend time with each child individually and ensures that we get to each subject every day.

Plan for Yourself
I have made the mistake of carefully scheduling schoolwork and activities for my children but forgetting to add myself to the schedule.  When I don’t carefully plan for myself, I find that I waste my time in pursuits that aren’t worthwhile.  To keep myself focused, I have included myself in the daily schedule to ensure that I have time for chores, cooking, and pursuits I enjoy – such as exercise and Bible study. 

Remain Focused
Throughout the year, keep your mind on what’s most important.  Your priority is your relationship with Christ and your relationship with your spouse and children.  Learning and fun are second to relationships being built!

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