How I Do It – Planning Our Homeschool Year

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I’m getting ready for the new school year. I’ve learned that organization and planning now pays off in the middle, especially with 5 students.

We pull from this and that, an eclectic classical method based on The Well-Trained Mind. I homeschool for the express purpose of customizing the kids’ education, so I have to plan out each child’s year. I do not order “Eighth Grade” from a company, open a box, and go with that.

We take Mondays off and do almost-year-round school. 3 days a week are “Workbook Days” and 1 day a week is a “History/Science Day”. I’ve just discovered over the years that this is what works for us.

Here’s what I do:
1) Figure out what subjects I want covered for each child. This is hardest with the oldest child. Once he’s done it, I tweak it for the younger kids based on what worked and what didn’t and any special concerns, but it’s usually pretty standard after the first kid.
2) Figure out what curriculum I want for each subject and what a year’s worth of work looks like. I use The Well-Trained Mind, Rainbow Resources website, and Amazon.com heavily, each for different purposes.
3) Figure out how many pages/lessons, etc. are in the year’s work. Some subjects we can get in 2 books per year (like Vocabulary From Classical Roots), some we’re pushing it to complete just one (Rod & Staff Grammar tends to be this way), some are very loosely defined (like most art books, or current events with daily newspaper reading), while others are already laid out in daily assignments (like Writing Strands).
4) Write out a description for each child of what a Workbook Day or a History/Science Day should include. Some subjects are on both, such as Piano or Bible Quizzing. Science is on both, but Workbook Day science is just a reading assignment. This is one sheet of paper for a Workbook Day and one sheet for a History/Science Day. It lists each subject to be done and gives a brief description of what the daily portion of work is.
5) Create a spreadsheet for daily use with rows for dates and columns for subjects to be checked off when done each day.

Daily, then, as the year progresses, they can do a lot of the work themselves. I have to do individual me-taught lessons for a few subjects, and I have to make customized assignments each day for some subjects (again, like current events assignments or art).

Plus the lovely grading. Oh, how I love grading (or not).

But that’s just what I do. If you are a homeschooler, how do you plan your year? What little tricks have you found to organize your days?