Homeschool Planning: 5 Steps to Your First Homeschool Year
First year of homeschool planning is happening now!
Probably for homeschoolers all over the world, but definitely here in our house. I’m surrounded by books, and at least 5 homeschool-related tabs are open in my browser–I’m so excited about this!
Who am I planning for?
Well, Sophia is reading well and ready for a (slightly) more structured day, even though she’s only five. So I’m planning for a first grade year, and also to keep my 3yo son and 1yo daughter pleasantly occupied in our learning times.
Our homeschool method looks like a heavily literature based cross between Charlotte Mason and a Classical Education.
Charlotte Mason and Classical are very similar in some ways, but they do bring different elements to the table. Charlotte Mason focuses much more on learning through experience and observation in the lower grades. A Classical Education provides a much more structured approach with specific cognitive development goals. As the child develops under the different stages of the trivium, the scope of the lessons change. My intention is to find some sort of balance between those two methods.
No matter how much you love a method, I think it’s important to keep the door open to change. The point of homeschooling (for me) is mainly to provide an education that works well with my children–capitalizing on their strengths, and helping them to overcome weaknesses. I don’t really expect that we’ll have to change our method. I picked it because it meshes well with our lifestyle and personalities. However, I will always leave the option there.
5 Steps to Planning Your Homeschool
1. Do your research on homeschool methods.
Are you a Charlotte Mason girl, Classical, Waldorf, or Eclectic? There is a great overview of the most common homeschool methods, and what they might look like in your home at www.homeschool.com There really is something for every one. There have never been more accessible, quality resources easily available for home-educating families.
2. Once you’ve settled on a style, you need to get a baseline idea of grade level knowledge goals.
Are you starting off in 1st grade? Are you jumping in at a different level? Research those grades and see what general knowledge is expected and achieved (generally) within a year. I highly recommend Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp and the series “What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know” by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
OF COURSE, these are only general guidelines. Your child may be farther ahead in some areas, behind in others, and par for the course in still others. That’s the beauty of homeschool! You get to meet your child where they are; encouraging them to excel in the things they’re great at and helping them through difficult subjects. Nonetheless, the guidelines will give you a good idea of where you may need to start.
3. You know your big picture goals for the year, now for the fun part–curriculum ideas!
Check out those curriculum catalogs, find some blogging homeschool mamas and see how they’re putting it all together, make a wishlist. Go ahead and be unrealistic. Add everything that looks amazing and get excited about all the incredible things you’re going to do with your kids! We’ll pare it down in the next step.
4. Now for the budget…
Take that beautiful wishlist of yours and pare it down to what you think is achieveable for a year. Then, take that list and start doing some math. This year I made three lists–one with just the baseline Things-We-Must-Have, one with a few extra “fun” things, and one with my ultimate wishlist. Josh and I discussed the three budgets and settled on our budget for this year.
5. Technically, you could be done at this point. You have your list, you know your budget–you could just start buying books. But, I’m a budgeting-the-budget kind of girl which means I’m shopping around.
I’m checking out our local book stores, and seeing what I can get locally before I go ahead and make the big purchase. That’s just me though. I may not do it this way again–but it’s what’s happening this year. I’ll do a post in a couple weeks about what I’ve chosen and where I got it!
Hopefully this will be helpful to somebody! Are you planning your homeschool year or considering homeschooling? Let me know in the comments! I am SO excited to be planning our first year of homeschool. Also, I’m a little bit nervous-excited about actually starting, but who isn’t?! Here’s to a great year of homeschooling!