Friday, July 12, 2019

How to Plan for a Successful Homeschool Year

Some days it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. We have the list of what we want to do and then there's the list of what we NEED to get done. We are needed by different people for different reasons and all to often we are torn in several different directions.

As I gear up for the school year with an active toddler and 5th grader I am thinking about what I would like to accomplish by the end of the school year.

I am quite known by my kids for being a planner. I live by the principle that "failing to plan is planning to fail." I tend to over plan incase there is a snag then I have a plan A, B & C. However planning is where everything begins.

To make this understandable, I'm going to use the analogy of going on vacation. I figured this is something that everyone can understand. Basically we'll use the same principles as planning for a vacation but apply them to your homeschool year.

As I begin this planning phase I do a couple of things.

1. Reflect
Reflection is part of the growth process. Without it we can't know if we are being successful in our goals. The measure we use for reflection is first the holy spirit inside us that guides us. The second measure we use is our list of goals from the beginning of the school year.

The first thing you do when planning a vacation is think about your past vacations, this is usually a subconscious action but you do it without realizing it. You think about how much money you spent versus how much you planned for, lessons learned about traveling with children and maybe how much clothes to pack. This also applies to planning for a homeschool year.

Reflect on the past school year. Make a list of things that you did. You may need to look through pictures and calendars. Don't get distracted by the memories, set a timer, use this as a memory jogger.

Then sort the list into two columns: Successes (Brought Joy) and Areas for Improvement (Made Me Weary). Take time to seriously reflect on each individual item on the list and then put it under it's perspective column.

If it ended up under the "areas for improvement" column, take time to pray and seek wisdom on what to do in this area. If an item on your list did not help you to achieve your goals then it might have been a distraction.

2. Set Goals
Zig Ziglar said "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."  Obviously he wasn't encouraging you to aim at nothing, he was trying to make a point about goal setting.

When planning a vacation, once you've set your destination or destinations, you determine the cost. This is usually the amount of money that you need to save.

When setting goals for homeschool chose the categories first. As Christians we are called to be like Christ so I chose my categories based on Luke 2:52

My categories are spiritual, physical, mental and relational. Under each category I brainstorm a list of things that she either needs to learn or I'd like to cover this upcoming school year. I use these ideas to help me form my goals for the year. I also use my goals to help me decide on curriculum for the year.

I truly look at homeschooling as the educating of the whole child, not just academics.

Recommended Reading:
5 Steps to Set Achievable Goals
How to Achieve Your Goals

3. Make a Plan
This is the part that is a loose interpretation of what the year will look like. I say loose interpretation because we all know that interruptions happen. This is not necessarily writing in your planner for each week. This is more of a breaking down your goals into smaller steps.

This is the part when planning for your vacation that you determine how much money you need to save monthly to be able to pay for this vacation.

Because our Classical Conversations curriculum is broken up into 6 weeks, I use this as a guide for my goals. I try to write at the end of each 6 weeks what I'd like to see done in each area.

        For example:
  • Spiritual- memorize 6 Bible verses or recite the Lord's Prayer
  • Physical- jump rope or be out of diapers (can I get an amen)
  • Mental- recognize 6 letters or addition flash cards in 2 minutes
  • Relational- 2 field trips and 1 weekly play date
By breaking my big goals down into smaller goals I don't feel so overwhelmed and it helps me to remember the bigger picture.

Unlike a financial budget, your homeschool plan will be less rigid due to life. It will ebb and flow with the needs of children and dailies of life. If you at least have a plan then you will be able to refocus when things settle down.

Planning helps you to focus on your child not the curriculum. This is truly the biggest benefit of homeschooling, you get to plan for your particular child. You know what they need and you know how they learn. 

Take a deep breath and plan away! You got this!

Be blessed! I'm praying for you!

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