Honestly, I think this whole planning thing is one of the biggest obstacles keeping families from feeling victorious in their homeschool.
We struggle with what to teach, when to teach, how to teach. Then just as we start to slightly grasp all of that, we must find a way to fit everything into the school day, get it all done in 180 days, and somehow organize the whole shebang.
It’s no wonder some people think of the idea of homeschooling and simply run for the hills!
When I was in college, we had several classes devoted to this subject of lesson planning. No doubt it’s rather important, but I don’t think we need a college degree to figure this out. In fact, I’d argue that planning your homeschool year is actually quite simple… if you do it in baby steps. I shared my whole plan: 10 Easy Steps here a few years back (p.s. I’m still doing it the same way) in case you need ideas to get you started.
But for today, I want to talk about the baby step of the day-to-day homeschool plan. Most of us are either required to keep some sort of written “lesson plan” or we know that we need one in order to make this work. Trust me, the written “lesson plan” thing isn’t an awful curse. In fact, if you pick the right planner, you will find that it is the single most important tool for helping your homeschool function.
Finding the Perfect Homeschool Planner
Yes, there is a perfect planner out there. But you may be surprised to learn that there isn’t ONE SINGLE perfect planner out there. The biggest mistake that we make in the selection process is believing that such a planner exists. We poll every friend we have and feel certain that the winner must be the one that everyone else uses. Wrong.
But don’t worry. We can find your perfect homeschool planner! Here are several important questions we must consider to find our perfect match.
1. What homeschooling method or style do you subscribe to?
I put this question first because it’s absolutely vital to getting the right planner. You need to think about HOW you prefer to homeschool, as it greatly impacts what you want to write down. For example, if you are a rather relaxed unschooler, a planner with an hour-by-hour breakdown will drive you nuts. On the flip side, if you are more classical in your approach, a planner with one big empty block will not be efficient.
But don’t let your style/method box you into something; just use it as a reference to help you make a choice that will work this year!
2. What are your state requirements?
Every state has requirements that you must know regarding your homeschool. Don’t assume anything. Go straight to the state education website and read exactly what is expected of you. Many states do require some sort of lesson plan, but I’m not aware of any that specifically mandate what it must look like. Be aware of this false belief. As long as your state doesn’t specify guidelines, use what works for you.
Don’t get stuck thinking that you must have a traditional classroom teacher style planning book. (Which reminds me that when I was a classroom teacher, I was completely free to plan however was best for me. You likely have even more freedom! Don’t forfeit that.)
3. What specific schedule needs to you have?
There are many things to consider here that would impact your choices. Do you have 13 kids? If so, you might need more space to write or something a little more streamlined. Do you have 1 child? You might find many options that are more than you really need.
Likewise, consider your time schedule. If you have a non-traditional school week (like, you school on the weekends and take other days off), then you need to make sure your planner comes with blank days. Don’t buy something that forces you to do a bunch of crossing out or rethinking. Trust me, there are options that will be a better fit.
4. What is YOUR personality?
I did save this one for last, but I don’t want you to think it’s not important. Your personality matters. If you’d rather journal, get a planner that has big open spaces and not tiny boxes with time slots. If you’d rather jot simple subjects in tiny boxes, don’t get that journal-style planner with big open spaces.
Do you need something pretty to help you feel like homeschooling isn’t so daunting? Then get it. Do you need something digital because you hate paper? Don’t be afraid.
Hopefully you’ve read this post and felt two things: encouraged and empowered. Picking out the perfect planner is actually pretty simple. The funny thing is- we know this stuff, but we often don’t think about it when we start planner shopping. Don’t let that happen to you this year. Find one that really works for you. Taking the extra time will really change the whole atmosphere of your homeschool.
Every Perfect Homeschool Planner . . . that I can think of:
My Top Picks
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia
The Well Planned Day by HEDUA
Homeschool Planner by Homeschool Creations
A Simple Plan by Mardel
Paper and Pencil Planners
Colorful Homeschool Lesson Planner by Confessions of a Homeschooler
One Planner by Mama Goes Frugal
Student Planner by NewBee Homeschooler
The Ultimate Daily Planner by Apologia (for students)
FREE printables that you fill out
Homeschool Planner by Donna Young
Printable Homeschool Planner by Living Well and Spending Less
7 Step Homeschool Planner by Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool
Printable 2015 Planner by From ABCs to ACTs
Color coded planner for multiple students by Self Reliant School
Weekly Assignment Planner By Five J’s
Homeschool Planner Pages by The Homeschool Mom
Notebooking Nook Planners (there are many here)
Honestly, I could sit here and list these until the cows come home, or at least until your children are all grown and in college. But I think I will stop there and let you start exploring. Happy planning. Let me know how it goes!