Today I want to do a little homeschool planning prep with you. Are you new to homeschool or a homeschool veteran? I have heard many people who have crisis schooled during this pandemic (I don’t think forcing parents to have to teach public school at home is really homeschool) say that they are thinking of or have committed to doing true homeschooling next year. Well this is a great time to start your homeschool planning prep work.
So what does that look like? Well for me it’s gathering all the materials I will need to plan out my next homeschool year. This means figuring out and purchasing all curricula and supporting materials. It also means buying a homeschool planner, new planning pens and stickers if needed/wanted, and researching any field trips I may want to take the next school year.
This is the first place everyone gets stuck when they are first starting out. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone post some version of the following questions.
“Where do I find teaching materials?”
“How do I know what I should teach?”
“What’s the best *insert subject here* curriculum?”
These are all great questions and I will be doing a future series that will help new homeschooling families with additional in depth help, but lets start at the basics.
What to Teach
What should I teach? Well that’s going to depend on a couple of things. For many of you, your subjects may be determined by state law covering homeschooling.
In Ohio, when you turn in your notice of intent to homeschool you agree to teach a list of subjects. Now wording is important as that list you are agreeing to is what needs to be covered in the entirety of your child’s school career and not necessarily each subject each year. It also doesn’t say how long or in depth those subjects are when they are taught. It is important to really understand the homeschool laws in your state and I encourage any new homeschooler to find a good state homeschool support group on Facebook and learn as much as you can from veteran homeschoolers in your area. If you are in Ohio, I would suggest Ohio Homeschooling Parents. Knowing your state laws is a critical part of your homeschool planning prep.
The good news is, in most states there is a lot of leeway in what you teach and when you teach it. You need to figure out what subjects you want to teach that year that fulfills whatever state requirements you have (if you have any). The second criteria is what is age/grade appropriate for your child. If you have no idea where to start you can either look at a variety of scope and sequence, often available for free from various curriculum companies or purchase a book such as Home Learning Year by Year to help guide you.
Where to find curriculum?
There is a wide range of places to find curriculum. You can find it online at the manufacturer’s websites, but you can also find it at online homeschool stores. Some areas of the country have local homeschool brick and mortar stores or you may go to a homeschool convention to look through curriculum at the exhibit hall.
If you are looking for used curriculum at a discount, be sure to join one of the many homeschool curriculum sale groups on Facebook. There are general groups, but also groups for specific curricula. Another place to find a good deal on used curricula is to search it up on Ebay. One word of caution when looking for used curricula though is be sure that if you purchase pieces separately that you buy the same editions. As curricula gets updated, sometimes answer keys no longer match up to workbooks, etc.
What’s the best curriculum?
That is a very subjective question. The best curriculum for your child may not look like the best curriculum for another child. One of the best things you can do is to figure out your child’s learning style, but also your own teaching style. There are lots of places online to try to help you figure out your child’s learning style and I would suggest that you start there.
Once you have all of that figured out, you will have a better perspective on what you are looking for to help your child learn. I would take that information and do two things. First I would check out Cathy Duffy Reviews. She has a massive repository online of various types of curriculum, sorted by subject. The other thing I would do is join a good homeschool Facebook community and search the group for whatever subject you are interested in. I guarantee you there will be lots of opinions and information on a variety of curricula for that subject.
Now that you have picked out and purchased your curriculum, you need to get together your planning materials. For me this is the fun part of my homeschool planning prep. This starts with a good homeschool planner. As I have mentioned many times before, my favorite planner is A Simple Plan by Mardel. There are lots of homeschool planners out there though and many other planners that can be adapted to use for homeschool. Spend some time thinking about what you are looking for in a planner, write those criteria down and then do some comparisons to find the planner that will best work for your needs.
Then you need to decide how you want your planner to look. Are you someone who is really inspired by having all the cute stickers and motivational sayings in your planner? If you are, search up some great sticker packs for teachers. Maybe you don’t need all that, but like to have the stickers for things like holidays and doctors appointments so you don’t have to write all that stuff down. Then be sure to pick up a basic planner sticker pack with appointment and holiday stickers.
Finally decide on the writing utensils you want to use. I used to use regular pens and keep white out tape handy. It was messy and a pain to try to get the tape exactly where I needed it in little areas. I then thought of going back to using pencils before I found Frixion erasable pens. Now you might be thinking, I don’t need all that. I just need one basic pencil and I’m good. Well I use Frixion pens and markers for two reasons. Yes the first one is their wonderful erasing ability. The other reason I use them is for their multitude of colors. No, not just because they’re pretty and make my planner pretty, but because I can color code subjects. Color coding my subjects make looking at lines of text easier to identify what I need.
Other Things to Consider
Finally there are a few other things you need to consider while doing your homeschool planning prep. Are you planning to take field trips? What are they? Are they stand alone field trips or do they coordinate with lessons in your curricula? Those things will matter when deciding when to do them. Are they seasonal? Do they require certain types of weather? Those are things to consider when planning your year.
You may also want to gather supporting items. I’m not talking about the books you may need to check out from the library or the special paint you might need for that one art project. No, I’m talking about that extra workbook you bought to reinforce that one concept in math you know your child needs help with or maybe it’s that draw the U.S.A. book you bought to go along with your U.S. geography unit you plan to do next year. You will need to plan those supplemental things out to go along with the corresponding subjects. There’s been times where I failed to do so and totally forgot about those workbooks that I had until it was too late to pair them up appropriately.
So have you gotten all of your curricula together? If not, don’t worry, you still have some time. I’m still finishing up my purchases for the next school year. Have you ordered your planning supplies? This one I did early as I am always excited to get my new planner and I have a pretty good stockpile of Frixion pens and planner stickers. Have you started thinking about any supplemental items or field trips you want to go on? This is the part I am on right now. Really to evaluate what supplements I need, I have to go through all of the curricula I have chosen. I haven’t had time to do this yet but will be working on this next month. This is also where I add in requests based on my son’s interest as well.
Are you gathering together all of your materials to plan your next school year? This is really my favorite time of the year as I love planning. We all have a little extra time on our hands right now that we’re not driving places or going shopping for anything other than necessities, so what better time to start the process!Thanks for reading!