The moment has come. Time to sit down and get organized for the school year.

Yep, that means lesson planning!!

You might be cheering right now because planning is your thing!

Or you might be allergic to planning. Do you look at planning as a huge time drain that takes you away from teaching and learning with your kids? (You may find that a little planning now will actually free up more time in the weeks and months to come.)

Whatever your feelings about planning or whatever your planning style, if any of the steps in the lists below don’t apply to you, feel free to just skip ‘em. 

What 4 things would help me rock my planning session?

Before you start lesson planning, you may find it helpful to think through the following things:

Homeschool, meet Reality!

One hundred percent of the moms we surveyed said, “My homeschool plan was eaten by the dog.” Of course, we’re just kidding! But you get the picture.

So, the reality is, your homeschool will not exist in a vacuum. You may find that the following series of questions can help you factor in the rest of your everyday life as you plan your lessons.

Pro Tip: Your future self will thank you for planning in some buffer time for life’s unexpected interruptions and even basic self-care—including getting a shower and using the restroom. 

The 10,000-foot View: What Will Our Year Look Like?

Ask these questions to get an overview of your family’s year ahead:

  • Will my family follow a traditional school calendar of five days a week and summers off? Or will we do school four days a week with shorter vacation periods? Or would another schedule work better for us?
  • Does curriculum I’ve chosen include lesson plans? If so, can I use them as is or do I need to adapt them?
  • Will I be doing all the teaching, will I share teaching responsibilities with a family member or friend, will my child(ren) attend a co-op, take online classes, or attend other classes outside the home?
  • Do we have any vacation plans during the school year?
  • What extracurricular activities (music, sports, civic opportunities, ministry, 4-H club, speech and debate, jobs, etc.) will each child be involved in?

Now, from 6,000 Feet:

Ask these questions to take a closer look at family goals and commitments:

  • Do I need to plan around my work schedule (or someone else’s)?
  • Do we have elderly parents or grandparents who will need attention due to illness or loneliness?
  • Do we have service projects we want to invest in as a family, like tutoring; serving needy families in your neighborhood or community; working in food banks, political campaigns, or the Special Olympics?
  • Do we have any other outside commitments that will take time? If so, what are the hours and how will that impact our schedule?
  • Do we have family goals that will impact our homeschooling calendar?
  • Do we want to have a family theme, a core value, or a verse for the year?

Pro Tip: You may find that every year one or two of your children will need extra attention—whether it involves attitude, academics, or health issues. If a particular child’s need is on your heart, write it down now and consider how it could affect your school day or your school year. Does this child need the family to surround him/her with support?

Circling in at 3,000 Feet:

Ask these questions to help you outline your academic calendar:

  • Am I required by state law to keep attendance and have school a certain number of days? Many states require 180 days a year. (Want to check real quick? Click here.)

Here’s a story problem:
If I have to homeschool 180 days a year and I want to homeschool 4 days a week, how many weeks of vacation can I take?

Teachers guide:
ou homeschool for 45 weeks, leaving 7 weeks for vacation (plus the fifth day of every week you are homeschooling). If you school 5 days a week, that will take 36 weeks and leave 16 weeks for vacation.

  • What days are we taking off for holidays and vacation—Thanksgiving, Christmas, summer, etc.?
  • When will we start and end our homeschool year?
  • Does my state require any testing, portfolio, or other end of year evaluation for my child?
  • What days, if any, will my children be involved in a co-op or other classes? Are there any other weekly or monthly commitments I need to add to the calendar?
  • When will I have a teacher planning day to review how things are going—quarterly? monthly?

Pro Tip: This is a great time to get input from your kids: How they are feeling about the curriculum and schedule? Is anything not working for them? What could you adjust to help them be able to learn and thrive?

  • When will I take inspirational and aspirational teacher refreshment days? (Do I need to review my homeschool GPS? Do I need to remember my why?) Do I want to schedule time to attend a homeschool conference or symposium, a day away with my spouse or friends—or just alone.

How’s your calendar looking? Is your year taking shape?

Putting down your landing gear: Don’t forget about you, mom!

As you are planning your schedule, remember to carve out time for essentials such as taking a shower (or even a bubble bath once in a while), bathroom breaks, a jog or walk (outside of the house ideally), time for friends, prayer or meditation, or a good cry when you need one is OK too!

Here are a few resources to reassure you that it’s not only OK, but important for you to take time for yourself in the midst of your busy homeschool days:

If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children . . . we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!” — Charlotte Mason

Ready, Set, Go . . . .

Now that you’ve got your calendar outline and you know your homeschool’s starting time, ending time, and family commitments, it’s time to start figuring out and plugging in your daily lesson plans.

On to Nitty-Gritty Lesson Planning!