How to Plan for Homeschooling
So you’re thinking about homeschooling, or you’ve decided it’s the journey for your family, but you’re overwhelmed with how to begin. I hope I can help. Our family began homeschooling around 15 years ago. Over the years, I kept journals and notes on what we did and how we did it (I think best on paper), and in going through them recently, I thought they may be valuable to someone out there who is considering homeschooling .
In fact, I have so much to say that I’m going to split this topic up into three parts: Planning, Scheduling, and Maintaining.
Ask: What’s my ideal school day?
What would the most ideal school day look like? I asked myself this question in the early years of our homeschooling journey and wrote the following in my journal:
My Ideal School Day:
In my ideal school day, we would begin with the Bible. We play a hymn, we create prayer lists, and pray together. This is preferably outdoors so we can hear nature worshipping God, too.
Then, we head indoors to a table for Table Time. This is our time for disciplined studies. Heads down, pencils writing, we all work on assigned work. The key: assigning that work! This time lasts about one hour. It’s quiet and we are diligent and disciplined.
Then…reading together in a comfy spot. After, a discussion. Hands-on projects. Gardening or other projects. This, around a lunch and/or snack breaks.
When our minds are tired and well before we get grouchy, we stop. Clean up. eat, if needed. Then enjoy some solitude. Later, the children gather again to play. I write nearby, inspired by them.
In the late afternoon, we gather again for Tea. Poetry, composer study, and art study are all enjoyed at Tea. In the evening, we all read in bed.
What’s your Ideal School Day? The day that is the epitome of a perfect homeschooling day, the day that is above all other days, the day that is exactly how you wish every homeschooling day to be. Don’t expect this day to happen often – kids get sick, pets get whiny (or the other way around!), and, okay, the teacher gets stressed. Most days don’t look like the Ideal School Day. But it helps to write it down to see the direction you want your homeschool to go.
Ask: What’s our goal?
What is your goal in homeschooling your child? I’m not asking why you’re homeschooling. I’m asking what is the end goal?
Just a few hours ago, I had a chat with our daughter who turned 16 last week. She’s in 10th grade. I told her that she is old enough to manage her time wisely (nudge, nudge), and she should select what to study, but that I do have an end goal for her that she’s not yet prepared for: I want her to make a decent ACT score in her senior year, in case she decides to go to college.
Once you know your goal — you look at what they would need to have that door opened to them at age 18 or 19. Obviously much of this is up to the student — we cannot make him learn — but it helps us as homeschooling teachers to know where we’re going.
For example, if you want them ready for entrance to a public university, you’ll find out the minimum ACT score needed for entrance. You’ll look at what is studied the first semester. Push him to study to, or past, that level of English and Math required in the freshman year. Work toward this goal.
Our family has a few goals for our students:
- Strong moral citizens; knowledgeable in our faith and in our country; with a work ethic above average.
- An ACT score above 20, so college entrance isn’t an issue (some will take lower, but many scholarships require higher)
- Experience in cultures, arts, volunteering, conservation.
- Knowledge in the chores and inconveniences of life: banking, vehicle maintenance, household management, and so on.
What’s your goal? Do you want Ivy League prepared kids? Normal college level kids? Kids in hands-on technical jobs? Kids who will focus on homeschooling their own? Kids who are comfortable using power tools? Entrepreneurs? Creatives?
Ask: What’s Working?
What is already working well for us? If you’ve never homeschooled before, you can still ask this question. What’s working well in your household? Perhaps naptime is going well at a certain time of day. Or, you go on a daily walk. Maybe you read aloud to the children every night.
After you’ve homeschooled a few weeks or days, when you hit a point of discouragement and wonder if you can do this, ask yourself this question again. What’s working? Something always is; at least one thing is working.
In my journal one evening, I wrote the following:
Hit a kind of revelation regarding school. Instead of creating schedule after schedule that fails, why not just write down what’s working now. What we’re doing every day as a habit, without really thinking about it:
– Proverbs reading (alone)
– writing a proverb (copywork)
– practical skills
– phonics (for our Kindergartner)
– read aloud (teatime)
– music appreciation (teatime)
And no more feeling guilty about it. Instead, LET US PRESS ON! One by one, adding on other things I want to include:
– nature reading and nature journal once a week
– art appreciation
– Bible together every day
– writing assignments
– exerciseI really should write more neatly in my journals. I didn’t think I’d show them to anyone!
I hope something in here helps you, whether you’re rehauling the homeschool you have, or beginning your homeschooling journey. In the next week or so, I’ll write down some thoughts on Scheduling and Maintaining your unique homeschool.