Monday, May 8, 2017

Once a Year Lesson Planning for Homeschool

Once A Year Homeschool Lesson Planning
After "The Socialization Question," the Homeschooling question I get most often is this: "But if you
teach all day and do homemaking chores and family time in the evenings, WHEN do you do your hours of lesson planning?!" And, if you know public school educators, this seems to be a logical question because, well, they usually spend an hour or more a day just "planning" - often they're given a whole hour in their day's schedule as a planning period, and spend additional time in the evenings doing more.

I have TOP SECRET Homeschool in-group bit of info for you:

I don't DO daily lesson planning!

That's right. I don't spend hours a day planning my daughter's lessons. And, although I do have a previously published "2 1/2 minute" daily planning method -(which does work great, too : ) I've even stopped using THAT this year.

You see, I've chatted with professional educators and asked them the "Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Question"  which is, "WHY do you do so much lesson planning - what's the purpose of it?" And the reply invariably is 1) to make sure that we finish a year's education in a year's time and 2) to make sure that our students meet the prerequisites for the next class they'll take from a different teacher or professor. or 3) to make sure each class doesn't take up more or less than its allotted time.

And guess what? As a home educator who schools year-round, I don't need to worry about meeting those deadlines. In fact, by NOT scheduling, and putting in a full day's work, and a full year's work, we usually exceed the "official" schedules rather than not finishing in time. And, if Math takes 10 extra minutes today while English takes 10 minutes less - it's not a concern in a homeschool where I'm the only teacher. My child doesn't need me to release her from Math class by the time the bell rings so that she can get to her English teacher's class in a different room!

Having done my own "lesson plans" as a student in an A.C.E. school, I know that it really doesn't need to be an hours-long job.

I'm simply stunned to see how many "must-have" products are marketed for big bucks to home educators to help them do the daily scheduling that they really don't need to do!

Instead of dealing with the hassles of daily lesson planning, I made a perpetual 4-day schedule for the entire year. And, I've gotta say, it's working great.

Last summer, during our family vacation, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted this year to look like. Not working to hammer out a schedule, mind you, just mulling it over in my head while I did things like watching the waves on the beach : ) I decided that there were a few consistent elements that were needed for a successful homeschool day.

1) Religion. This has always come first in our homeschool day because God deserves our "first fruits" and our best, not what's left of our energy when we're tired at the end of our day.  Also, we need to ask God's Blessing on our day. So, God comes first in our day. Simple : )

2) Skill building Things like Typing & Math drill, Spelling and Handwriting. Those were things that require practice  EVERY DAY to build those skills. A fresh brain and body are needed for these tasks, for true mastery. This part of the day (along with our Bible Study and Prayer time - because THOSE are the most important skills she'll EVER have!) is called the "hour of skills" although it usually takes more than an hour - and it ends with lunch (we're not early risers ; )

3)  Memorization. This is the fun part of the day. It's the time to watch our favorite memorization videos while we have lunch or a snack. I'm doing a separate blog series on our fun memorization videos, so be sure to check them out : )

3) New Materials. This part of the day, usually the afternoon, is where we focus on those rigorous subjects that teach new information and grow the brain. We're all warmed up, rested, fed, and ready to think deeply. So we do our new math concept lessons. Foreign Language. Science. History. More Religion. Grammar. Creative Writing. etc.

4) Extras & Fun. Toward the end of the day, when our energy and enthusiasm are waning, we schedule things that I don't consider "academic" Phys Ed, Health, Art, Music, Home Economics. Chores. And, "Light" educational things like videos, reading, or educational video games. Most of these are also something my daughter looks forward to, which helps give her a little push to finish the day well.

If you read the above list, you might have noticed that there are about 20 things that NEED to be done! But, there aren't 20 hours in the day, and I don't believe in 5 minute "classes."

So, I decided that the first two items were every day things.

And the second three items were rotating things.

Easy-Peasy : )

Then, I made a chart of what we'd do in the hour of skills:

And, I made a perpetual rotating plan of what order we'd rotate through the other things.

And the "scheduling" that is so dreaded by so many? We just do the next lesson in whichever subject is on the schedule for the day. If it's Science, we read the next half chapter. If it's Math, we do the next Mastery Challenge on Khan academy and a few practice items, or the next pages in the workbook. If it's History, we watch the next video, or read the next book. Couldn't be simpler! 

And I put our schedule on a cute little chart from the Dollar Store.

My daughter LOVES charts, so checking things off adds an extra feeling of accomplishment to our day, and lets us see the "light at the end of the tunnel."

You KNOW as a homeschooler that EVERY week there will be at least one day that you can't "do" regular school. Either co-op  has a field trip, or someone needs to go to the doctor, or we have Liturgy in the morning (Liturgy comes with a "get out of school free" card ; ) or (blush) there's a great sale at the thrift store ; ) So, a four-day week it is : )

Notice that our chart has 5 days, but we only do 4. That's because WHICH day we skip each week is flexible.

And, if there's a day in which we don't have time to complete the whole schedule (for instance, the first day back from an illness, when she doesn't have as much energy as usual), it's easy for me to simply mark for my daughter which ones are most vital for her to do today, by putting an "x" in the box for any task she should skip that day.

Similarly, when we completely finish a task that is on the calendar, for example Cursive Writing, it's a 30-second job to erase that task and rearrange the remaining ones. So, a few times a year, I make little adjustments : )

With this method, there's simply no daily planning to do. It's all already done (and didn't take very long - I might add!)

So, relax! It's easy : )

This post was featured on:

Encouraging Hearts & Homes

This post was shared on:

The Art of Homemaking Mondays
Modest Monday
Literacy Musing Mondays
What'd You Do This Weekend?
Tuesdays with a Twist
Teaching What is Good
Happy Now
Love to Learn
Coffee & Conversation
Penny Pinching Party 
Think Tank Thursday
Encouraging Hearts & Homes
Booknificent Thursday


  1. Anna, thanks for your kind visit and words. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  2. Interesting. My daughter is finishing up pre-k and we will start K in the fall (we will not be doing year round). When I was a homeschooled kid, my mom made up a schedule we each day based on what needed to be done but I had the choice in which order I wanted to do it. Sometimes the hard stuff got put last because the frustration and tears over long division just set the whole day up to be bad. lol. I'm still working on how I want to plan for my daughter. You have given me another idea to consider. Thanks! #HappyNow

  3. OH I too gave up lesson planning a long time ago! I have a checklist (mostly in my head) as to what I'd like to tick off each day-- math, reading, some form of language arts/ writing and one extra subject (science, geography, history, art, etc). The rest of our days are free and open for us to fill in however we please. Thanks for sharing with us at Love to Learn. Pinned.

  4. I love this! I spend a couple hours a week pulling things together, but it's something I enjoy and don't find onerous at all! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on this week! Always a pleasure having you!


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