How I Plan My Homeschool Week
It’s Sunday afternoon, which means it’s that time of the week when I sit down to plan my homeschool week.
When it comes to the planner vs. pantser debate, I am definitely a planner.
While much of our curriculum is open-and-go, I find it so helpful to pre-load the mental energy of figuring out what we’re doing each day.
I also like to lay out all the different resources and see how they might best fit together during the week.
Step 1: Gather resources
The first step for my homeschool planning happens when I pile all the books and resources we are currently using onto a pile onto my dining table (aka, my office). I also grab a stack of little post-it notes so I can mark relevant pages.
Then I open the spreadsheet I use to track and plan lessons. I create a new tab for the current week by simply making a copy of the last week.
Lastly, I create a new playlist in iTunes so I can add songs as I go.
Step 2: Review Weekly Calendar
My planning spreadsheet features all the topics/resources we’re studying on the left, and each day of the week across the top. I’ve played around with the formatting so that it prints nicely, which is why the subjects are listed multiple times.
I start by changing the dates at the top and adding in notes about any special events or appointments. Extracurriculars, doctor appointments, or field trips all go across the top. That way, I know to keep those days light in terms of workload.
Step 3: Update Spreadsheet
I start with my spine (in this case, Torchlight Pre-K) and update all the Torchlight-related fields, moving day by day.
I’ve talked about how I modify the Torchlight Pre-K program, but in general, I follow their weekly schedule recommendations. If a particular day feels like it’s getting to be too heavy, I move things around to spread out the workload.
After I update all the Torchlight fields, I do the BookShark fields. Then, I tackle the math and phonics areas. Next, I add in the science lessons, which I always choose based on whatever we’re reading in Torchlight or BookShark.
Finally, I check to see if we need any extra art or music. Often, my other resources will recommend art projects or recipes or songs. For example, BookShark recommends a nursery rhyme each week, and our science curriculum includes a related craft and recipe for each topic. I start with these and then add in more if I think we need it.
Step 4: Flag pages in books
This actually happens concurrently as I type up my spreadsheet. For example, as I type in the updated page numbers that we’re reading this week from You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You, I move the post-it note to the appropriate page in the physical book.
This also gives me a chance to very briefly preview each resource so I know what we’re reading and if I need to prepare any particular supplies.
I might notice that the story we’re reading in BookShark is about frogs, so then I might move that particular read-aloud to the day when we’re learning about the frog lifecycle in Torchlight.
This is also the moment when I print off any pages we’ll need from our math book or jot down a list of anything we might need to pick up from the store for a particular art project or recipe.
Step 5: Set up homeschool station
I keep a bookshelf in our dining room/homeschool room, and there’s a basket in our kitchen for homeschool supplies.
All the books we’re going to use this week go on the “current week” shelf in the bookshelf. All the books we need for the next day go in the basket.
Worksheets for math are loaded into the math folder.
As we go through our week, I move the books to the empty shelf as we read them. It’s a nice visual reminder of what we have left to work on each week.
Step 6: Review & print
Before I finalize everything, I review the schedule briefly to make sure the work is equitably distributed and that I’ve been reasonable with the amount of work I’ve assigned this week.
I know we’ll end up moving things around as my kids pursue various rabbit holes, but this basic framework helps me stay on track.
I also check my iTunes playlist to see if it has enough for the week, and I might add in a few extra songs to round things out.
After I’m satisfied, I print the weekly schedule. I staple last week’s schedule together and move it to the “archived” section of my homeschool binder. Since I check off each item on the physical planner as we do them throughout the week — BOOM, instant homeschool portfolio.
I have a field for “other” where I can write in other activities that crop up, like time spent on Reading Eggs, or an independent art project.
Why I Love To Plan My Homeschool Week in Advance
I love to plan my homeschool week like this because it minimizes how much thinking I have to do each day.
I already know what we’re reading each day and roughly the content we’re covering. There are no surprises when I open the arts & craft book and realize I need some weird material that we don’t have at home.
I’ve been planning my homeschool week this way since we started last July, although I’ve streamlined the process along the way.
Now, it only takes me about an hour to put all of this together. (Of course, this depends on whether I have an hour by myself or if I’m also trying to run interference on my kids.)
Adjusting this Planning Method for Your Family
If you have older kids, you could adapt this planning process so that each child has their own schedule. Older children can simply check off their work as they go.
If you have multiple kids, I’d recommend using one planner sheet per child. That allows you to write in specific appointments or activities for that child.
As you check off what you accomplish each day, you’ll have a planner and portfolio notes customized to that child.
Do You Need a Homeschool Planner?
It wasn’t hard to make the excel spreadsheet that I use to plan my week, and I think it would be easy for most people to create their own that’s customized to what subjects their own kids are studying.
But please let me know if you want an editable copy of this homeschool planner.
I would be happy to make a pretty, customizable version for all of you. Just leave a note in the comments, and I’ll get that right out.