The planning side of homeschooling is admittedly half of the fun for me! After choosing all of the curriculums and resources that I am using for the school year, weekly planning is essentially making it all come together and writing down the game plan for each day in one place.
When and how often do I plan?
I usually have one big planning session on the weekend where I spread out all of my resources and fill up the upcoming week’s planning sheets. I like to get a big view of my week by looking at each day as it is planned out in my current curriculums and then transfer what I plan to do each day in my planner. In this season with a baby and a toddler I only spend about an hour each week planning.
After school each day I also look over the next day’s plans and revise anything based on what actually got accomplished that day. For example, if my kids really struggled to understand the math concept for the day, I may erase the next day’s plan to move on to the next unit and spend another day reviewing the concept. This is why I always write in pencil in my planner! I love using mechanical pencils for this because they write so thin and erase so cleanly.
How Do I Plan?
There are four parts to my weekly planning:
1. Prepare for Morning Time
Morning Time is such an important element to our homeschool days and I like to keep it fresh and exciting by adding in new books and materials regularly. Read more about Morning Time here. During my planning session, I switch out the Traceable Monthly Calendar if it is a new month. I also find which poem and art study piece I want to study that week and print those and add them into our morning menus for the week. I usually choose these based on what we’re studying to go along with the seasons or current nature study topic. I find these from multiple resources, but my main go-to’s are in the monthly Rooted Childhood collections and in Exploring Nature with Children. I gather any books or other resources that I want to add to Morning Time that week as well and put them in my Morning Time basket.
2. Write out the plan
I use all of my curriculums and guides to write out a plan for each day in my planner. I don’t write word for word what I will say or do in the planner. It is more of a reference of page numbers, titles of books, and general ideas of activities. I like to glance over stories I am planning to read and math concepts that I will be teaching to be mentally prepared. I also spend some time researching anything I may want to add in like additional handicraft projects or activities not listed in my guides and write those ideas in the planner. I find most of my additional ideas on Pinterest and Instagram.
3. Request and gather library books
I use my master booklist to request the books I need from my county’s library website. It usually takes anywhere from 1-10 days for the library system to have the books that I request on the hold shelf ready for pickup. When I sit down to plan, I request the books that I need a few weeks before I need them. It can get really confusing, which is why having the master booklist is so helpful! Requesting them a couple of weeks ahead of time gives the library time to get them on hold for me and once I pick them up, I have some time to look through them before I use them for school. I also use this planning time to go through my current stack of library books and make a return pile of books we’ve finished.
4. Order supplies and prepare materials
After I have written down the plan, I make a daily list of additional materials I need to purchase in my planner. I also write down anything I need to do to prep, such as saving an egg carton, printing and laminating cards from a shop, or buying museum tickets. You can find the printer and laminator I use, as well as more of my favorite lesson preparation materials in a list here in my Amazon storefront. I spend a little time ordering anything I need to, printing, laminating, or gathering things from around the house that I may need the upcoming week. I also clean my chalkboard and write our weekly scripture verse and poem on it. Sometimes I like to add an illustration as well.
My DIY Planner
There are so many lovely planners out there, but I just wasn’t fully satisfied with any, simply because I had a very specific format in my mind that was tailored to the subjects we are studying, as well as having a separate spot for our Morning Time plans. I also laid the planner out in the order that we cover the subjects daily, so that I can just go down the list and check things off.
How to customize the planning sheets
My recommendation is to choose three things that you do every morning during Morning Time and type them in the box under Morning Time. They will auto-fill in the planner on each day. For us, those three things are: Calendar/ Weather Charts, Poetry, and Art Study. In the first box, I left spaces under each category so I could write in that week’s poem and art study title as shown in the picture. Then, list other things you may cover throughout Morning Time, but not necessarily every day. They are here in this box just as reference as you plan each week. You could also write book titles or descriptions for these as well. Some people do history, geography, or other subjects during Morning Time. Customize this box with subjects that suit your family. I left 3 lines blank on each box for Morning Time so you could pencil in songs, page numbers, or anything else you may plan to do that week.
There are 3 sections under lessons for you to customize. Choose the subject that needs the most space for curriculums for the first box, because it is the largest. For me, that is Language Arts. On the left, you can type in all of the curriculums and activities you will be including in the daily boxes as a reference as you plan each week.
The small subject box is for any subject that needs very little explanation or details. For us, this is math, because I just follow what the teacher’s guide says to do each day. All I write on this line each day is the lesson number we will cover.
The third box is for another subject you plan to cover each day, or you can use it as I do, which is for our loop subjects.
What is a Loop Schedule?
Loop Scheduling is a method in which you go down a list of subjects that you go through in order, one per day in the time slot of your rhythm that allows for it. Rather than “every Monday we do Nature Study”, we just go down the list of subjects as we have space in our rhythm to fit them in. For us, at this stage with a baby and toddler in the mix, this takes a lot of stress out of our days. My priority is to cover Language Arts and Math each school day. If we have time to fit in our Loop Subject after those are complete, then we do that too.
If you follow a loop schedule, you can list all of the subjects you plan to loop in the box on the left for reference as you plan your week.
The last two boxes are there for you to write in outings or special activities and any supplies or prep you may need to do for each day.
Using the planner for multiple children
I created this planner with enough space to easily write in lesson plans for multiple children in the boxes, simply by adding their initials next to page numbers, etc. Another option would be to have a planner per child, customized to their needs.
Printing and assembling your planner
You have a few options for printing your planner. You can print multiple copies of each week and assemble it into a year-long planner like I did. Or, you can print each week as you go. I highly recommend you print using Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free application. This will guarantee you get the best, highest quality print results.
To print from Adobe Acrobat, click File – Print. Type the number of copies you wish to print next to the box “Copies.” Each copy is one week, so for a 26-week planner, you’d print 26 copies. If you have a duplex-capable printer, you will be able to automatically print the entire set. If your printer does not have this capability, print only the first page, then flip and print the second page.
I designed a cover sheet for my planner with the title of our school and the years on it and printed it on cardstock. Then, I laminated the cover sheet and another piece of cardstock to be the back cover. After printing it I used my binding machine to bind it. You could also take your sheets to a local office store to have it bound inexpensively.
I hope you found this helpful! If you purchase my Customizable Homeschool Planner, tag me and share with me how you’re using it @treehouse_schoolhouse!