It’s 2020-2021 back-to-school time! With many families homeschooling for the first time this year, I’m sharing my quick and simple process for homeschool weekly lesson planning!
First A Little Background
I have three kids with one on the way. My oldest is 6 years old and we just started her second year of homeschool in July. So just know I’m new to all this and still have so much to learn!
And here’s a little more about me, just so you know where I’m coming from when I start talking about planning and organizing.
Number 1: I’m not a naturally time-oriented person.
I easily lose track of time when I am immersed in something interesting or creative. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was totally unaware of this until I married my very time-oriented husband.
My default is to try to cram WAY too much into a given time slot, and then I end up frazzled and running late! Observing Drew has taught me that creating margins of time around important tasks and events is a very valuable thing. And this rings even more true now that we have kids.
Number 2: Excess stresses and overwhelms me.
Excess stuff, excess activities, excess media, etc. Again, this is only something I have realized in recent years.
The best way for me to keep our home tidy is to have less stuff. My method for being productive during the day is keeping the activities and to-do’s to a minimum (when possible!). To keep my head from spinning with information, I have to limit media consumption.
Number 3: I highly value thoroughness and a job well-done.
(Some might say I have perfectionist tendencies). This can be such a strength but also a hindrance in a way. Sometimes it prevents me from starting something for fear of failure.
All last summer while I was planning our first homeschool year, I had this nagging fear that I was going to completely fail my children and their education. And do you know what finally helped dissipate my fear? Leaving the standard of perfection in the dust, diving in and getting started!
If you’re at all like me – a somewhat unstructured, creative type with perfectionist tendencies – please take heart! I have found a few simple strategies to be helpful in striking a happy balance with time management, simplicity, and excellence in our homeschool, which I’m excited to share here.
Simple Changes We Made In Our First Year of Homeschooling
Praying for self-discipline and selflessness (and asking others to pray for me in these areas)
There’s no getting around it – homeschooling your kids requires discipline and sacrifice. But the daily laying-down of my own desires that homeschooling has required of me has yielded precious fruit in my life!
I have a long way to go on this journey, but I am confident in God’s grace to sustain, grow, and bless me through it.
Following Daily Rhythms
This was not a complete change from what we were already doing, but we amped it up a bit. The kids and I were already in a good routine of having breakfast together in the morning, playing or doing an occasional learning activity after breakfast, sitting on the couch to read books after lunch, and taking naps and quiet times in the afternoon.
When we started school, we included Morning Time while we were sitting at the breakfast table. We added in most of the school work to that big chunk of time in the morning between breakfast and lunch. And we added our assigned read-alouds to our normal reading time after lunch.
Yes, incorporating a more structured curriculum into our normal rhythm has taken some adjusting and re-adjusting, but simple rhythms have made for more predictable, peaceful, productive days.
Using A Gentle Feast’s suggested daily and weekly schedules, but feeling the freedom to tweak them as we go.
I will share a little more about this when I get into the nuts and bolts of my weekly planning routine. But I had to mention it here!
I love that our curriculum (which you can learn more about on my Review Post here) has digital resources, including editable schedules for the year and suggested weekly schedules. I do one big planning session before the school year starts, then I update the master schedule about once every 6 weeks. It gives me a peace of mind that I am covering all the subjects, while also giving me lots of freedom to shuffle things around as needed.
Keeping supplies and extras minimal
There are so many amazing homeschool resources out there, and many of them are free or inexpensive! As tempting as it is to collect all the things, I have found that limiting anything extra outside our curriculum and basic school supplies helps us stay tidier and more focused.
For more on our homeschool organization, check out my Small Space Homeschool Organization post here.
Along the same lines, I am learning to build in time margins by limiting extracurriculars and outings. This is definitely in-progress for our family! But one way we do this is by homeschooling 4 days a week and leaving the 5th day for activities outside of the home.
Homeschool weekly lesson planning on Sunday evenings
It takes me about 15-20 minutes to jot down a checklist in a simple planner from Target and pull books for the week. This habit is well worth the time for a smooth start to the week! I know the planning time will increase as the kids get older, but starting small now will make that transition easier in the future!
My Weekly Homeschool Lesson Planning Routine
Supplies for Weekly Homeschool Lesson Planning:
Simple weekly planner – I like pencil and paper. There’s something about the act of writing things down that helps prepare me mentally for the week ahead.
Pencil – sharp with a good eraser!
Master schedule for your curriculum – Like I mentioned, our curriculum A Gentle Feast comes with a digital plan for the year. I update it and print it every six weeks and put it in a clear page protector.
Weekly schedule template – This is another digital resource I use from A Gentle Feast. It’s basically a skeleton of all the subjects with suggested amounts of time to spend on each subject. I keep it in a page protector on a clipboard with my master schedule.
Family calendar/planner – I plan with our family calendar in view, so I can work around appointments and such as I plan for the week.
Process for Weekly Homeschool Lesson Planning:
STEP ONE: Pull out planning supplies.
1. Open planner to week ahead.
2. Pull out master schedule and weekly schedule template to refer to while filling out planner.
STEP TWO: Jot down a to-do list on each day of the week in the planner.
1. Look at the family calendar and see if there are any appointments or outings scheduled for the week. We typically do school work Monday through Thursday. A couple Fridays a month we meet up with our nature group for a hike. The other weeks we have a free day to be at home, meet up with friends, or make appointments.
2. Look at previous week in planner to see if there were any items we didn’t get to that I’d like to do in the week ahead. Make adjustments to the master schedule if needed.
3. Start with Morning Time plans and jot down morning time items for each day. I write them on the left side of the day of the week. In this column I also include a couple things for my preschool-age son. He is learning a letter each week, and we read a couple picture books for each letter. He is also working through a Pre-K Brainquest workbook, mainly because he likes to have “math” to do while big sis is doing her table work.
4. On the right side of each day in the planner, jot down items for each subject to be completed each day. I also write down the titles of our read aloud book and literature book for the week in the top margin of the planner.
STEP THREE: Pull books for the week, and review items as needed.
1. Return books from the previous week to the bookshelf. We have a central location for our homeschool curriculum and supplies in our dining room. We keep most of our books on a large shelf in the living room. Since we don’t have a ton of space in the dining room, I only keep out the books we need for the week.
2. Pull any new books we need from the book shelf and bring to homeschool area.
3. Flip through new books to get an idea of what we will be reading, and print coloring/activity pages as needed. The printing is usually pretty minimal. If I print anything it’s typically some coloring pages to keep the kids busy while I read aloud.
STEP FOUR: Tidy up our homeschool space.
1. Take anything that doesn’t belong in our homeschool area back to it’s proper place. Throw away trash. Sharpen pencils. Replenish paper and other supplies as needed. Wipe the chalkboard clean.
And that’s it! A quick planning session and tidy-up, and we’re ready for a new week of school!
Notes on Planning:
I plan to continue using this method as long as it is working! When my son starts school, I will likely pick up a second planner to keep track of his school items. The goal is to hang onto these planners for our records, just in case we ever need to show what we have done. My state doesn’t require very strict record keeping, but this could change or we could move to another state that does.
When the kids get older, I hope to include them in the weekly planning process. Ideally, they will be able to look at the master schedule and make their own to-do lists in their planners.
Check Out More Homeschool Related Posts from Feast and Fasten:
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