Starting to home educate 2020: Planning for the year ahead

There are so many ways to plan your home ed year that you could probably spend a year just researching the various ways to plan. Much like you shouldn’t choose curricula before you know what you need, you probably shouldn’t make grand plans until you know how you and your children work best.

Begin with the end in mind

The only universal truth when planning is to begin with the end in mind. Will your child be going back to school for 2021/22? Are you aiming for A-levels? Hoping to go straight into higher education?

  • What are the requirements to enter education at that point?
  • How will you provide evidence that your child meets those requirements?
  • How long will it take to achieve those requirements?

Work backwards from your goal. But not in too great detail, especially for any planning beyond this year. And until you find a planning system that works for you, keep this year’s plans fairly loose too.

Work the system

Planning isn’t nearly as difficult as finding and implementing the planning system that works for you. Okay, for some people this bit is easy too.

Are you motivated by vision boards?
Do checklists help you to stay on task?
Will you be daunted by seeing your entire year spread about before you?
Does the same hold true for your children?

I like to have a vision board of our hopes and dreams for the year as a visual reminder of all of our beautiful home ed opportunities. It represents possibility. Whereas a stack of curricula may as well be a ball and chain as far as I am concerned, but I know that stack is an inspiring sight for others!

I do buy curricula. It’s usually nicely divvied up into 36 or 38 lessons, one for every week of your average school year. We only do 30 weeks of ‘school work’ in a year, so, I have to look ahead for good lessons to double-up on or information I’m happy to skim over. So, my end goal is to finish X curriculum in 30 weeks. I work backwards and figure out loosely what needs covering each month.

Then I make a checklist for just the next three weeks’ worth of work (in a sweet little home ed planner of course because a nice planner can be motivating too, but it’s basically a checklist). We take every fourth week ‘off’ and I spend a week planning and prepping for the next three-week span. I get overwhelmed and/or bored if I have to plan and prep every week. Taking the week off to plan and prep is like a spoonful of sugar to go with the medicine. But that’s my system. And it has taken me years to fine-tune it. I could probably work with a bigger chunk of time, like six weeks, but my ADHD son could not and all my plans would be for nought.

It may take a little time to work out the details of your personal system, but don’t sweat it. Children are creatures of learning and they’re still picking up useful information when your best-laid plans are falling apart. It’s okay to take a breather when the plan isn’t working. It’s wise to reflect on why it isn’t working and adjust your expectations and your plan when confronted with new insights.

Examples of planners and systems, oh my!

Home Education Planners 101 Part 2: The Pro and Cons of Printable Home Ed Planners and Bullet Journals

If you think a sweet little home ed planner would be useful and motivating for you, check out Katie’s planner here (on sale 40% till 19/09/2020).

Daksina walks us through her planning system here. It’s a 30-minute video but it’s so rare that you get a really good nosey at how another home educator plans and constructs their time. It’s well worth a watch so make the time, get comfy, take notes (’cause Daksina is chill).

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