How to plan your homeschool year (with less stress and more joy)
Even though we are only in July, so many of us are already thinking, dreaming, maybe even worrying, about the next school year ahead. Whether you are learning at home full time with your children, or you love to plan intentional learning moments to have throughout the year, it can be overwhelming. One of my favorite parts about teaching, oddly enough, was curriculum planning! I loved dreaming about what the year would hold as we learned side by side and I wanted to share some key things I keep in mind as I plan a school year.
Keep in mind that there are so many ways to approach your curriculum planning. Every family thrives with different environments and routines. This is meant to guide and empower you to find the best way to learn at home with your children!
Top SIX tips for planning out your school year
1. Focus on joy. This seems simple and maybe obvious but as you plan out your year, focus on what brings you and your children the most joy. Do you love reading together? Going outside together? Working on projects or arts and crafts together? Think about what brings you and your children and build your curriculum with that at the center. There will be subjects or activities that will challenge you all, but if you have a solid foundation and rhythm with something that brings out the best in you, your year will go by wonderfully.
2. Use books/stories to guide your year. Whether I was planning curriculum for Kindergarten, Spanish II in high school or Spanish V, I always centered our learning with books. These books can go with the seasons (see tip 3!) or they can be thematic in some way. Having stories that your learning build upon will help you all feel grounded and rooted. You can incorporate any subject into your stories: math, science, nature study…anything! Make a list of books that you really want to study for the school year (one or two a month) and use that to help bring your year together.
3. Seasonal learning is great! Another way to organize your yearly curriculum is by focusing on bringing in seasonal learning. This is especially beneficial if you are doing nature study at home. Your book list can be guided by the seasons as well and that will help you plan activities, lessons and learning objectives. Let the seasons and months guide your learning, and your curriculum, it is a great guide to plan your year.
4. Consistency is key. Whatever rhythm you decide upon, make sure you can be consistent with it. You don’t need to bite off more than you can chew when you are planning your school year. Keep your expectations realistic and make sure you can commit to whatever you start. So many children thrive on routine. Being consistent will help your children feel safe, they will be able to lose themselves in their learning in the best way, and it will help you get into your own rhythm too!
5. Plan with flexibility in mind. I am a huge planner and organizer. I love to plan out my year as a whole, then plan a general idea for each month (bullet points), and then plan out one-two weeks at a time. That being said, I always leave lots of time for flexibility and for things to change. I love finding a balance with planned and emergent curriculum so that my children’s passions can change the course of our studies if a spark lights a fire of interest. If your child seems really excited or engaged with a specific topic or activity, don’t move on just because you are planned to! Dive into that further, go off on a tangent and learn even more, lean into this love of learning. So, my best advice is to plan but leave space for your plans to change.
6. Be mindful with the curriculums you purchase. I use the word mindful because I want you to really think about what you need help and support with before you purchase curriculums to use. It can be so easy to get sucked into all of the resources out there in the world. One negative thing that can happen when we buy all the things is that we get overwhelmed and our ideas get cluttered. Only buy what you truly need and try not to get sucked into all of the options that are out there. Get all the free samples you can and make sure you everything you spend your money on will be used and beneficial in your home!
Well, my friends, this was just the tip of the iceberg but I hope you found it useful. Planning a year can be so daunting but I promise if you lean in, and focus on what works for your unique and wonderful family, it will be wonderful. You can do this. You are not alone. You are doing an amazing job. Anytime you want to chat more about curriculum planning or Spanish resources and learning, please reach out! Also stay tuned for my round up of amazing Spanish home based learning resources coming soon.