Saturday

How I Plan Our Homeschool Subjects

Here you are at the beginning of a new homeschool year. You have your stacks of books, workbooks, and teacher manuals. Now how do you transfer all of those materials into a workable learning plan for the year?



It’s taken me a long time to write the last of my planning posts. Mostly because I wasn’t sure what my own method was for planning subjects. I’ve tried every planning book ever invented. Seriously. All of them. I’ve done electronic planning. I’ve tried various paper planners. I’ve tried not pre-planning our subjects {ACK!} which didn’t last long for my type-A self. I’ve tried planning just a few weeks at a time, but I really like knowing the big picture well in advance.

But there are two major problems with planning all of your subjects for an entire year…

1) What do you do if a child moves more quickly through one subject than the others?

2) What do you do if you have to change some {or ALL} of your curriculum in the middle of the year?

Both of these scenarios can wreck a nicely pre-planned year.

Before we get started with planning our subjects out for the year, you need two pieces of information. You need to know how many days you plan on schooling and how many times a week you plan on doing each subject. Check out my How I Plan Our Homescool Year and How I Plan Our Homeschool Week if you need help figuring those things out.

Here’s my process:

1) Go to Donna Young’s website {AMAZINGLY helpful place!} and print off 4 pages of the subject planner for each subject. These four pages are enough to plan 180 days of lessons. If you are doing a subject for less than 180 days, then only print out as many sheets as you need. For example, the subjects we only do three days a week, I would only need to print three sheets.

She actually has an option to type your plans into a pdf file of these worksheets here. I chose this option because the type is MUCH smaller than I can write in the boxes so I can fit more in each square. The only drawback to using the typeable pdf is that there is only one page, so be sure and print your plans before erasing it to move on to the next page.


Donna Young is now charging to access the subject planner form so I've made my own which you can download here for free. 

Now fill in the subject sheets with your assignments, page numbers, reading assignment, topics to study, etc. Some subjects will be a lot more detailed about what you want to do while some will mostly be page numbers.

Here is a picture of my filled out math subject sheet (mainly page numbers):


Here is a shot of my science subject sheet (more detail):


This step is the most time consuming, but pays the most dividends. An entire year of assignments at your fingertips, the thought makes me giddy!

To make this chore a little less intense, I plan the subject as the book/s arrive in the mail. I don’t order our entire curriculum at one time but spread out purchases over the year due to finances. As one subject arrives, I plan it immediately, print out my sheets and file them away. This makes the planning not take as long. I have had marathon planning sessions where I would spend a week planning every subject in one fell swoop. I don’t recommend that unless you have a live-in housekeeper to take care of your family and an intravenous supply of caffeine.

The best part is that pre-planning for the entire year by subject solves the two problems I had at the beginning of this post:

1) What do you do if a child moves more quickly through one subject than the others? You simply mark off all of those completed boxes on your subject plan and move to the next box.

2) What do you do if you have to change some {or ALL} of your curriculum in the middle of the year? Throw away the old subject plan you had and make new ones for the new curriculum.

Another added bonus is to save those subject sheets by grade for any future students you have. Everything will be planned out for you already!

Find the other planning posts in this series here:



7 comments:

  1. This is almost exactly how I do it! Like you, I couldn't stand when we needed more time on a lesson or got ahead in a subject (times 3 kids!) and my lesson planning pages turned into a big mess that needed to constantly be redone. And like you I wanted to plan ahead but felt like I couldn't because I didn't want to waste the time redoing them later. The only difference in the way you do it and the way I do it, is I use spiral notebooks divided up into the subjects and hand write the plans on the pages. As the kids complete a lesson, they highlight the lesson and mark the date completed. After an entire page of lesson plans has been marked off, they remove that page and file it in my teaching binder behind the lesson plans tab. I have a notebook for me that contains the plans of the subjects we do together as a family because I don't want to rewrite them in each child's notebook. If I did them on the computer I could easily print a copy for each child to keep in their assignment book. I really like how you do it on the computer. I may have to give that a try. Especially since I can save them and potentially reuse them for other children. Plus, I can fit more plans on a page. Thanks for sharing and giving me something to mull over.

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    1. I'm so impressed that you hand write all of that!!! By about page two my kids would be like, "Mom, I can't read this!" because my hand writing tends to get sloppier the more I have to write.

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  2. Oh! And I also have a 4th grader (girl) and 1st grader (boy). My youngest is in K (boy), though.

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  3. Great post! I have a hard time planning anything with my kids. I admire your ability to do this.

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    1. I admire anyone's ability to NOT plan! ;) I wish that I could be more footloose and fancy free in that aspect, but the thought of not having a plan gives me panic attacks.

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  4. I'm a planner too - our methods are very similar. I love how easy it makes my school year when everything is planned ahead of time. I also purchase throughout the year (just purchased history books for next school year so I can start planning!).

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    1. A fellow planner! I've not started planning for next year yet since we just started a new school year in January, but I have to admit that I'm really excited about it!

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