Planning a new homeschool year energizes some and sparks fear in other homeschool moms. Personally, I enjoy planning, but scheduling a year for a struggling learner reminds me of never-ending tasks such as laundry or putting away toys while a toddler dumps them out behind you… every time you get stuck on a concept, or have a medical set-back, you have to adjust your plan and schedule.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Ben Franklin)
I’m not saying you’ll fail at homeschooling without a schedule, but tackling a homeschool year without an idea of what needs to be accomplished and when does create challenges.
8 Tips for Planning a Homeschool Year for a Struggling Learner:
List the main goals in each subject for the year. Setting goals keeps your eyes on the purpose of your homeschool. Doing this in each subject allows customization based on your student’s needs. Remember to keep your goals focused and doable. Some goals can be for mid-year with a higher expectation set for the end of the year. Goals can state how much of the curriculum you want to accomplish or an end date for completing it. If you haven’t created an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) before, it can help with setting goals and specifying what accommodations your struggling learner needs. Check out #4 on Step 3 of the SPED Homeschool Getting Started Page for more information on how to write an IEP.
Decide which lessons / topics are most important. Some can be skipped, shortened, or combined. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this lesson and how can we do it in a way my child will learn, be challenged, and successful?” Not all of the curriculum needs to be done, nor all of the assignments.
Plan with pencil and the ability to move things around. Schedule a rough draft or overview of what lessons need to be done by Christmas and May. If you want to write out each day’s plans in advance, keeping it on the computer in a spreadsheet provides an easy way to move things around. I’ve even planned using sticky notes.
Utilize a checklist of daily subjects. Give your student a checklist of what subjects or books need to be done each day. It can be laminated to be used weekly or daily. This is my favorite tip for planning math. Some concepts can be combined (shapes or estimation), while some lessons might take days to work on (long division). This also helps your child feel accomplishment as they complete the tasks..
Schedule in shorter chunks. Don’t plan what lessons you will do each day for the whole year; rather plan a few weeks at a time. Rely on your goals or the overview for year-long planning.
Give yourself margin. I leave an extra week unplanned each semester to give margin. If we don’t need the extra days for the important lessons we are behind in, we use that time for fun units or projects. Some years we do schoolwork on four days with Fridays for fun. This can also be used for a catch-up day.
Plan backwards. Instead of writing what you think you will do before you do it, keep a file of what you do accomplished each day.This is helpful for the times you feel like you aren’t meeting goals. When we start our day stressed about what we are “supposed” to do, we forget to celebrate what we have done.
Pray. This should be done first, in the middle, and last! God knows your child and what is needed. He also knows what your year looks like, even before events happen! Through the good days, and the tough ones this year, God is not surprised. He is there every step ready to lead you.
Arm yourself with chocolate, pencils, calendars, lessons, and sticky notes and start planning your new homeschool year!
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