Planning for the Non-Planning Homeschool Mom

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I thought planning for a year meant filling in every detail. Boy was I wrong! Find out how I was converted to homeschool planning!

Lynna Sutherland

Lynna believes that the gospel moves the homeschool mom from performance to possibility. She offers support for moms overwhelmed by homeschooling multiple ages and distracted by constant sibling conflict. Ditch what slows you down and look to Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I am so not a planner girl. And planning my whole year all at once certainly did not sound like my cup of tea. So you might be surprised to hear that I have a new favorite homeschool planner!

I thought planning for a year meant filling in every detail. Boy was I wrong! Find out how I was converted to homeschool planning!

{I was given free access to the product and compensated
for my time in exchange for my honest opinion.}

Permanently Flexible

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in homeschooling and household management it’s this. If something is going to be a long-term solution, then it has to be very, very flexible. I’ve installed adjustable shelves in the pantry. None of our furniture is built-in because things have to keep adapting.

So you can imagine that I’m not a big fan of the idea of planning out a whole school year at one time. I mean, life happens, right?

I always figured that planning your year in advance meant writing down what page in every book you were going to do each date of the entire year for every single kid. Yea. That would be obsolete after the first 45 seconds of the first day!

Seriously, who wants to spend more time erasing than planning?

What Planning a Year Actually Means

Turns out, I was mistaken. That isn’t what planning for a whole school year is about after all. Pam Barnhill wrote this great post about what planning isn’t. And yep, that pretty much fit the assumptions I had in my mind.

It isn’t about getting all the nitty-gritty details nailed down weeks or months in advance. It isn’t about telling the future about family circumstances or learning needs. Actually, it’s really about looking at the big picture, getting your thoughts in line about what your goals are and then preparing materials and methods accordingly!

It’s a Lot More Than a Planner

I’m so not a washi tape kinda girl. And I wouldn’t be able to answer a Facebook poll about my “favorite fun pens” even if it was multiple choice. I’ve discovered, however, that the finished planning sheets are just the icing on the cake, really.

Since homeschool planning is really about honing your vision and goals for the year and then organizing your time and materials accordingly, what I really needed wasn’t pretty pens and paper. What I really needed was a homeschool friend to sit beside me, ask relevant questions and give me some sample ideas to start with.

That’s why Plan Your Year is dynamite.

This kit comes with an eBook. I figured it would be an instruction manual for how to fill in the forms. Boring. Skippable. Nope.

The eBook is Pam talking you through the steps of planning. It’s not a long read. You could go cover-to-cover in a couple of hours. But it is packed with resources. Each chapter includes links to resources, podcasts and articles for further reading, as well as clearly stated action steps to follow up on.

The Core Content

We’re wrapping up our seventh year homeschooling (approximately, unless you count my over-zealous pre-school enthusiasm in those early years). And yet, I found this solid, careful, methodical approach to thinking through the new year refreshing and comforting.

Yes, comforting. Because there is so much that is unknown in a new school year (especially one that will involve a new baby!) fleshing out a framework and organizing the big picture brings a real sense of peace. This is doable. And we even have some margins.

Here are the chapters that Pam walks you through in the Plan Your Year eBook:

  1. Create a Vision Why am I homeschooling anyway? What is our family purpose here?
  2. Craft Effective Goals So, then, what do we actually want to accomplish this year?
  3. Determine a Course of Study What subjects will we include?
  4. Consider Your Scheduling Options Will we study in semesters? Year Round? Traditional School Year?
  5. Plan a Week Given the yearly plan, what’s on the calendar week-by-week?
  6. Evaluate and Purchase Resources What materials do I need (and NOT need) to put this plan into action?
  7. Build a Booklist How do I choose the books to read aloud and for my kiddos to read independently throughout the year?
  8. Organize Your Materials How can I store all this stuff in a way that I can find it (and remember that I have it!) when it comes time to use it!
  9. Keep Records What do I need to track and how can I go about doing that?
  10. Plan Your Day What general routine will we follow on a given day?

Did you notice what wasn’t on the list? Yea, the part about going through and writing down what page each person will do in each book on each day of the school year. That isn’t the idea here. The idea is to give you a well-thought-out framework into which you can easily slot your daily assignments as you come closer to the time!

The Goodies

In addition to the planning guidance provided in the eBook, Pam has included a ton of extra resources for you. She provides the following audio files

  • Planning from a State of Rest with Sarah Mackenzie
  • Overcoming Barriers: Working Your Plan in Your Real Day-to-Day

Also, purchasers of the kit get access to a private Facebook group for support, ideas and encouragement.

But of course, the big plus is all of the planning forms that are included! I never have been able to find a pre-bound planner that looked like something I would actually use. But I can definitely make use of a huge collection of forms that I can mix and match and print as-needed! Here are just a few. There are over fifty different PDFs to download, save, and print.

Digital Planning Delight

I generally prefer to keep my digital resources on the computer. I don’t usually print eBooks for reading on paper. This was an exception because I wanted to be able to underline and take notes. However, the digital file will be equally useful because of all of the links included in it.

The planning forms, as well, can easily be used on the computer or printed – or a little of both! You can save money by only printing what you need. But that doesn’t limit your ability to use the forms.

For example, here’s a copy of the year-at-a-glance form. I opened it in the (free) Adobe reader and was able to color-code sections and add boxes and notes so that I could see the big-picture schedule for the year. It’s lovely, crisp and attractive. And if things change, I can easily adapt with just a few click-and-drags.

Incidentally, I learned how to use Adobe to color-code the calendar through a thread in the Plan Your Year Facebook group. One of the members even made a video demonstrating how it was done!

Grab One for Yourself!

If this sounds interesting, be sure to check out more information about Plan Your Year here. You might want to consider purchasing it at the current price as the cost will soon go up before planning season gets into full swing.

The beauty of this resource is that once you own it, you’ll have lifetime access to all forms, even the updated ones Pam adds each year. So you aren’t just purchasing a 2017-18 planner. You’re purchasing a planning resource for the remainder of your homeschool journey!

  • Just bought this! I cannot wait to see if it helps shift our school year a little more towards the positive and laid-back. 😉