How To Prepare for Your New Homeschool Year

By Melissa Batai

The new homeschool year is ahead of us and with it comes planning. Depending on how Type A you are, what curriculum you are using, and how many kids you have, you could be facing lots of planning or just a few hours.

How Much Time Does Preparing Take?

How much time you need to prep depends on so many variables. I’ve had years where I’ve strictly used open-and-go curriculums like Math-U-See and Sonlight, and I’ve had to do very little planning. (Those were also the years my two girls, who are 17 months apart, used mostly the same curriculum.)

This year, I separated the girls, so they’re each doing their own curriculum, and I found that planning for the year took me about 15 hours.

Some parents spend as much as 40 hours over the summer preparing.

How Much Planning to Do?

How much planning you should do is also an individual decision. I prepared less when my kids were younger. Now that they’re in 7th and 6th grade, I’m trying to be more structured in preparation for high school.

Weekly Planning

Some families plan a week at a time. You will likely only spend an hour or so each week planning, so this is the least stressful route. Using this method, on the weekend you will determine what work your children will do in the upcoming week.

This method of planning is nice because you can alter your plans quite easily. For instance, if your child is having trouble with a math unit, you can choose to drill down into that unit some more in the upcoming week rather than have them advance to the next chapter.

Yearly Planning

On the other end of the spectrum, some parents plan everything for the upcoming school year. One organized mom prints out all the worksheets her children will need for the upcoming school year and files them in order so she has them ready to grab them during the school year. S

he also plans every field trip she wants to take and exactly when in their studies she wants to go on the field trip. She also has a weekly schedule for her kids. They can check items off as they complete them. By the time school starts, she has a weekly schedule for each kid for the upcoming 36 weeks!

Somewhere in the Middle

I take an approach somewhere in the middle. As part of my planning, I determine what we’ll be studying throughout the year as well as how long our school year will be (40 weeks this year). Then, I plan the first five weeks of work and give my girls their schedules. This allows them to work ahead if they would like, and they also learn how to pace themselves.

As we reach the end of our first five-week session, I plan the next five weeks. Planning this way took me about 12 hours during the summer. Planning each five week session takes an additional two hours.

Why Prepare Ahead?

True, you can just wing it every day. I’ve certainly done that, especially during busy periods of life. However, I find if I wing it, some subjects get dropped because I don’t have the supplies we need (science—I’m looking at you), and we also just don’t get as much done.

Planning during the summer can actually save you time during the school year because you don’t have to think—everything is already planned. If you have a busy week, you already have a plan laid out, so you can, in a sense, automate school. This is like creating a meal plan on the weekend. Yes, doing so takes a bit of time on the weekend, but during the weekdays, all you need to do is execute what you already planned.

Final Thoughts

As the homeschooling parent, you’ll determine how much or how little you plan. However, some time spent planning will save you quite a bit of time during the school year. Instead of wondering what to assign next, you’ll already have that part done. Then, all you need to do is teach.

Looking for additional planning tips? In my latest book HOMESCHOOL HACKS, I show you how to use these planning strategies in detail to make them work for your unique lifestyle. Learn more here