No idea how to start planning your homeschool year? Here are some tips to help. – As an added bonus I walk you through what I do to plan our homeschool year.
I was initially looking to make homeschool cost and planning two separate posts – but the truth is they go hand in hand.
It really comes down to what you want and really what you can do.
Homeschool laws vary from state to state. Here in Montana, I fill out a form for the state every summer. Keep track of the days that my daughter is ‘in school’ and I also keep my yearly to-do list. During the year everything is nicely placed in boxes, and at the end of the year it is marked and kept for a record of her schooling. We have very little interference from the state, which is especially helpful since we lean toward unschooling. Other states aren’t so easy, I have even read of homeschool parents that have written about the headaches that they have to face daily because their state demands so much.
A good first place to start is homeschool.com.
They have a great “Getting Started” section that has information regarding State Laws and methods (just in case you aren’t sure what you would like to do!). Another great place to start is your states homeschool website. You should be able to find this by searching your states name and ‘homeschool’.
So, you decided you wanted to homeschool, found out what state laws are and now the time has come to move forward and get curriculum!
It’s scary – really scary and can be overwhelming the first time you start looking at all the options to homeschool. And at first glance a lot of people just buy a packaged set and go from there, thinking that’s all they have to do.
This is where I will note that they usually don’t do it very successfully (I know because I was one of the poor kids that had to live thru it!).
Just take a breath and relax.
Here are some of the very first things you will want to do before you jump into the crazy homeschool curriculum world. Remember this is the foundation for your homeschool, spending extra time on these steps will make everything else a lot easier.
- Figure out your method and what you want your child/children to learn.
- Think about how your child learns (I did a little research into this – you can read about it at How we Learn)
- Then how do you want them to be taught the information?
- Start asking questions – know anybody who homeschools? If so ask them, glean as much info as you can from them. If you don’t know anyone, try local groups (you can usually find a contact online) or online forums.
- Remember: not all homeschoolers are the same, I think we have all met someone who has – ok lets say it – a lot of weird stuff they believe and do – just relax. Don’t be scared away just because you encounter some that are “different”! You are in control of what you do and teach. You can be as weird or as normal as you want!
After you have figured “everything” out (I say that light-heartedly, you will always learn new stuff!), now it’s time to figure out what curriculum to use. Here is where cost comes in. You can spend as much or as little as you like. You can buy materials, find free materials (online or in person). Borrow books from the library or other homeschoolers. Make up your own. If you are lucky someone may give you some. Really it is all up to you. you don’t have to spend a fortune. For the first couple years (K, 1st) I think I may have spent $50. Even this current year I think I spent around $100. But a good part of that is a health curriculum that I purchased, and we will be using it for multiple years.
Another cost idea to think about – how many kids are you homeschooling? We only have 1, that weighs on my mind when I buy materials. If it is an amazing resource that will be well used, I try to find the best price. If it’s just something that would be nice to have (especially a book) I see if I can borrow it from the library or find a cheaper alternative that will work just as well. Here’s a thought: If you have 4 kids and end up buying a book for $100, but you know all will use it, it really comes down to $25/kid.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration – Good Luck!
You will be learning as much as the kids, maybe more! Being a homeschool family is a lot of work!
Whew – that is a whole lot of stuff to go through! Well, as promised, I am going to walk you through my process for planning our homeschool year. Just remember – this is what works for me. You may have a different way of doing things – neither way is wrong – they are just different!
We tend to unschool, but in the elementary years we want our daughter to have a proper schooling. Book learning, I mean. With unschooling children learn about the world around them by being in it, not just reading about it – and that’s what we like. But we also want her to have a firm foundation on the basics. I want her to be able to be anything wants to be in the future. Whether it is becoming an astronomer or opening a cleaning business.
First thing you need to know is that it is a lot of work! Don’t let that scare you – once you get into a routine it goes rather quickly – like a lot of things – it’s all in getting started. In all, it takes me about a month to make a schedule for the year – wait! don’t freak out! I don’t do it all day, every day – I have a life and can’t stop everything just for that one thing! I just make sure I have plenty of time before we start the new year then I can do it when I want to.
- I check to see what the state requirements are – yearly. Even when homeschooling the year before, guidelines can change from year to year.
- For our state they want homeschoolers to have “instruction in the subjects required of public schools as a basic instructional program” from OPI Home School Information (mt.gov) – so to do that I get on the superintendents’ website for the state and look at the ‘content standards’ for her grade
- I do an internet search for ‘what does a ___grader need to know’
- Check thru the resource books that I have that show what she needs to know for her grade
- I usually have a running list of things I and my daughter want to do in the new year. This list also includes stuff that maybe we touched on, but she didn’t get a firm understanding of. I try to incorporate them, and this year she wanted to learn French, I wanted her to work on computer skills and research. Both are on the schedule for the year.
- Compare lists for what she needs to learn, add in what we want to learn. Make a list of what she will need.
- Gather materials
- I use a printable to-do list for each week. I print them from Free Printable 2022 Calendar (free-printable-calendar.net)
- Go thru each subject and figure out what is to be done daily
If you buy a ready-made curriculum, you still want to go over it -it is always a good thing to find out what your child will be learning! Plus, there may or may not be an agenda but making sure that you are familiar with the information will help you in the long run. Make a schedule if there isn’t one, look over the information and what to be done each day. It will also give you confidence knowing what’s coming. It will also help your children to see that you are comfortable with it. It will also help when that ever-loving question comes out of someone’s mouth – “What are your kids learning?” You can tell them with confidence!
I hope this information helps you on your journey! I try to remember that my job as, not just a parent, but as her teacher is to help lead her to become a productive member of society. And as Francis Bacon once said “Knowledge is power”.
Have a great day!