When it comes to homeschool planning styles and planning tools, the sky’s the limit!
You can keep it super simple and streamlined . . . you can get really detailed . . . you can even get really creative.
There are digital and paper options—or you can use a combination of planning tools.
As a parent, you likely already plan your family’s life in a number of areas:
- menu planning,
- chores and housework,
- kids’ extracurriculars,
- weekly outside-the-home activities,
- morning and evening routines,
- special events like birthdays and holidays,
- shopping, and . . .
What’s on your list? These are things you’ll need to keep in mind and weave into your family’s calendar along with homeschooling as you get into academic planning.
So as you think about all these areas, do you use the same tool or different types of planning tools for different areas?
For example, do you use a phone app or a sticky note for menu planning . . . but use a whiteboard or chalkboard to plan out your kids’ chores or daily routines? For scheduling family events and commitments, do you prefer a digital or paper calendar?
If so, you may find that you want different tools for different aspects of homeschooling.
Here are some of the most popular types of planning tools used by many homeschool parents (not in any particular order). But keep in mind that you can use any planning tool(s) that work for you, even if it’s not on this list!
- Traditional daily/monthly/yearly academic or homeschool planner that offers blocks for recording each day’s assignments
- Simple journal or notebook for keeping a diary or running narrative of school assignments and accomplishments
- Online “cloud-based” planning service (often with mobile apps)
- Combination of online productivity / business tools
Just remember, you’re the boss! Whatever you choose, it’s your tool. If you start to feel like you’re serving the planner instead of the planner serving you, don’t hesitate to change it up!
Traditional Academic Planners
You can purchase traditional, simple academic planners at an educational supply store or online. Here are a few possibilities. A quick Google search will reveal lots more options.
- The Ultimate Homeschool Planners are 52-week undated planners that work for up to six children, allow for traditional lesson planning and narration, and provide a wide variety of forms, charts, articles inspirational quotes, and Scripture verses. Teen and student planners are also available.
- The A+ Homeschool Planner is an undated planner and recordkeeper in one with color-coded sections for easy access. Provides weekly, monthly, and yearly planning space for up to six kids, as well as year-in-review pages.
- The Well-Planned Day Planners are fully-dated, one-year planners come in several forms—homeschool planners, student planners, college planners, and a prayer planner. They keep everything for a homeschool mom in one place: dinner menus, school assignments, family calendar, and helpful charts and forms.
- Erin Condren carries a wide variety of customizable planners, ranging from life planners to teacher lesson planners to focused planners (for minimalists) to wedding planners. These come in durable binders and can be customized to fit your needs.
- The Big Fat Secular Homeschooler’s Journal offers monthly and seven-day weekly lesson planning space, monthly reviews, attendance and grading forms, budget, curriculum reviews, and optional unit study add-on pages.
Journals or Notebooks
You can use a simple spiral-bound composition book, a journal, or a hybrid planner that has weekly journaling sections built into the body of a traditional planner.
- If you enjoy writing and don’t want to be confined to little boxes, you might want to try journal or narrative lesson planning.
- As you’re planning assignments and recording what your kids have accomplished, your journal can take on a bullet-journal or scrapbooking feel.
- You might also want to purchase a student planner or inexpensive traditional planner to record your child’s assignments. Then they can check the planner to see what assignments lie ahead. And if they’re old enough, they can mark off what they’ve accomplished (you’re still reviewing, of course).
PRO TIP: If you are writing your journal entries at the end of the school day or week (and you don’t have daily assignments recorded anywhere else), try hard to stay current so that you don’t have to go back and do extensive writing to catch up.
Looking for more customizable printables? These can range from free to quite expensive. Here are a few examples. (You can also search “homeschool planner” and “homeschool recordkeeping forms” on Etsy for creative solutions—lots of different styles and even different educational approaches.)
- 10+ Free Homeschool Planner Printables gathered by Homeschooling Today magazine range from simple to detailed and customizable.
- Confessions of a Homeschooler carries dated and undated downloadable, printable homeschool planners, as well as lesson planning, recordkeeping, and daily household life options.
- Homeschool Helper Online offers free undated printables—from simple planning sheets to recordkeeping forms.
- Homeschool Recordkeeping Forms (undated) developed by Beverly Hernandez span attendance tracking to specific subjects and progress reports, which you can download (and modify) for free.
Tips for Using Your Paper Planner
- If you use your paper planner to list out your child’s detailed daily assignments, you may want to consider doing microplanning at shorter intervals, like monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly. (If you work too far ahead, inevitable real-life interruptions—for illness, a day where life happened instead of school, or for a child who is ahead or behind schedule—can make adjusting your plan a real challenge.)
- So, if you plan more than a month in advance, use a pencil instead of a pen!
- You can also use your paper planner to record completed work or assignments.
PRO TIP: Whatever you’re recording, you’ll thank yourself for staying as current as possible.
If you prefer using apps and online planning tools, you have a lot of options at your fingertips. Don’t want to reinvent the wheel? You could use an out-of-the box complete homeschool planning app or cloud service. Are you pretty tech-savvy and looking to create your own? You can use some standard (and often free) office productivity tools to craft your personal planning suite!
Digital Homeschool Planners
Digital Homeschool Planners will lay out for you just about everything you need to plan (and often to keep records) for your homeschool. That means things like lesson planning, assignments, weekly schedules, attendance, grades, test dates and results, report cards, etc.
Some are designed just for you as a parent, while others allow your children to access certain areas, such as seeing their upcoming assignments. Most digital planners are cloud-based, securely storing your information online so you can access it anywhere from any device—your tablet, laptop, or phone.
And one of the nicest things about digital planning is that when you need to adjust assignments, you can without having to erase or scratch out the prior ones!
Here are a few options:
- HomeschoolPlanet.com gives you the option of planning your own lessons or buying lesson plans for a number of popular curricula. It automatically generates daily assignments and provides separate logins for each student or family member. You can choose what your children are able to view and edit.
- Homeschoolminder.com provides a completely interactive, digital planner that helps you organize lessons, assignments, and grading. It also comes with forms for report cards, transcripts, daily activities, and lesson plans.
- Well Planned Gal Online Planning offers you weekly assignment sheets, attendance records, progress reports, custom calendar views by student, chores and checklists, homeschool yearbook, printables, and reports. You can assign multiple students to the same course and easily move assignments in batches. The add-on ready-made lesson plans for specific curriculum could save you bundles of time.
Combination of Online Productivity / Business Tools
Google Suite—in particular, Google Calendar, Google Sheets (spreadsheet), Google Docs (wordprocessing), and Google Keep (notetaking) are free online interactive cloud-based tools. Free mobile app versions are also available.
These tools allow you to enter assignments and share them with your students. Additionally, you can use Google Sheets to calculate grades and as a grade book.
Using the interactive features can be great for high school students and tech savvy middle school students. For example, you can enter students’ assignments in Google Sheets and share them with your student.
Students can use Google Docs to do their assignments, especially writing papers. They can share their papers and work with you, and you can correct and edit their assignments with them in real time, or after the fact.
To get an idea of what apps like these can offer, here’s one mom’s description of why she likes Evernote: “Evernote is a program that is like a huge blank canvas and a huge empty filing cabinet all rolled into one,” says Mystie Winckler. “This is great for our use as homeschool moms, who have such individual needs. It is as versatile as a stack of blank paper, a set of tab dividers, and a huge binder!” Want to learn more? Check out her Five Ways to Use Evernote for Homeschooling.
Here’s some helpful quick comparisons of popular digital planning options for homeschool lesson planning.
The best planning tools are the ones that work for you! No matter what you choose (or don’t choose!), it’ll be rewarding and confidence-building to find your own homeschool planning groove.