Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homeschool Planning: What I Do

I have been spending some time working on our homeschool planning for this upcoming school year. I am so pleased with how the planning has gone so far. Usually, I never feel like I am organized enough. I continually try to find methods that might work "better" than others...but I have never been fully satisfied with how it has all been set up. I know many struggle with this, as well, so I thought I would share what I have found to work best for us...

This year, after reading Managers of their School by Steve and Teri Maxwell, I realized a few things that have helped me to gain a better feel of organization with my homeschool planning. In PA, we are required to do 900 (elementary) hours *or* 180 days of school. This equals 36 ~ 5-day-weeks of education. So when you look in your curriculum, for each subject, you can figure out how many days per week you need to do to accomplish all the lessons.

For example, if your reading curriculum has 180 lessons, you would need to have a reading lesson daily. If your reading curriculum only has 72 lessons, you would have to schedule reading lessons for only twice a week. Our art curriculum only has 39 lessons...which puts us at around 1 lesson per week. So, because of this, each child will not have *all* their subjects to do everyday.

I have written up a routine for the school year from the time we wake up until 2pm. After that, the children will be free to play for the rest of the afternoon and I will be able to get some things done and start supper. Here is a look at what I have planned...

Mom Daily Schedule:

6-7:00am: Breakfast, Devotions/Quiet time, Computer (and in winter, go out and check the woodstove)
7-7:30am: Wake Chris, make his lunch and coffee, Get children's breakfast
7:30-8am: Shower, Start laundry, Kiss Chris off to work
8-8:45am: Housework
8:45-9am: Devotions/Prayer/Singing with Children
9-11:30am: Schooling with Children
11:30-12: Prepare lunch
Noon-1pm: Lunch Break
1-1:30pm: Schooling with Xavier
1:30-2pm: Read aloud with Children
2pm +: Housework, Supper Prep

Children's Daily Schedule:

7-7:30am: Feed Dogs/Chickens, Get dressed
7:30-8am: Eat Breakfast, Make Bed
8-8:45am: Help Mama with Housework
8:45-9am: Devotions with Mama
9-11:30am: Schoolwork
11:30-1pm: Lunch Break/General clean-up
1-1:30pm: Schooling for X, Free Reading for Madelyn, Rest for Jaxson
1:30-2pm: Mama reads aloud from chapter book.

Of course, there will be days schoolwork takes longer or shorter amounts of time...we can still be flexible, but I like having a general plan. It makes for a smoother day!

I also have the children's school time mapped out. There are subjects we will all work on together (such as astronomy, bible, and PA history)...and then times they will work alone on things. I have set aside certain times when I can give individual attention with each child...and will also help them as needed, through the day!

I have also learned that I don't have to *date* everything ahead of time. That was my first problem in past years. This time, I found a wonderful undated planner HERE (actually, I found mine on Amazon for cheaper! You can also get printable pages like these and then put them in a binder. My printer is on the fritz, so I just bought my own books). It has no fluff...just the basics, perfect! Then I began planning weeks one and two for Madelyn (remember, you won't have every subject every you will have blank spots)...

**Once we decide when we will officially begin our school year, I can plug in the first week's dates. This allows me to plan out all the weeks ahead of time and plug dates in, as we do them!

So, you can see, the subjects are listed along the left side in gray and go along horizontally...then starts the week days, vertically. Each day, the child will have around 5 subjects to accomplish. I have master schedules written out for each weekday, during school-time (9am-2pm). These will tell who will do what, at what time. For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-9:30am, I will work with all three children on our astronomy lesson. Then, on those same days, from 9:30-10am, Madelyn and Xavier will each work on their math lessons while I work with Jaxson on his "learning to read" work.

A look at X's first week of schooling, all planned out...

Have I lost you yet? ;) Honestly, I really like routines and I truly feel this will work very well for us...keeping us on-task and get much accomplished. I have tried other methods and ideas out, but found I was more easily prone to not get as much done as I would have liked to. I really feel each homeschooling family needs to explore different methods and use the one that works best for them. Some people may find a nature walk to be a wonderful way to approach a science lesson. For me, I like to get the book work done...soak in the knowledge and *then* take a nature walk, just for fun (learning alongside of it just happens to be a bonus)!

Of course, learning is a daily happens in everything we do. We each are always learning something new. While driving in the car or eating a meal, the children enjoy when I give them words to spell or have them answer questions from Brain Quest. I believe learning can be fun and enjoyable...but for us, I think the book work part is also important.

This year, we are again using Christian Light Education for the majority of our curriculum. However, I wasn't a huge fan of their science curriculum so we are doing Apologia Astronomy for our science studies this year! Also, I have an old PA History schoolbook that the children and I will use to study our state history. I am looking forward to all the learning we are going to do this school year!

I have tried to read back through the post to see if I was confusing...but it's just so hard to tell from my viewpoint (since I already have an understanding of what I am trying to explain). I hope you have found this post useful...or at least found a tidbit of an idea to use with your homeschool planning. :) If you have any questions...please feel free to email me (left sidebar) or comment on this post. If I get numerous questions, I may just make a new post of them, in case others are wondering the same thing.

**Before I go...I just wanted to thank you all for sharing in my joy that I posted about HERE. God is moving in Chris...truly. It's as if Chris has had a breath of (Holy Spirit) fresh air go through him! It's amazing! I am continually thanking God. It's breath-taking when you see your prayers answered, isn't it?

**And, I am excited to be able to share that my blog has been featured on THIS site. I've never been "featured" before, so I was quite surprised when I got the email. I hope it is not prideful to share this excitement with you...?

Well, I need to skee-dattle! Thanks for visiting today!

"We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand... and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late." ~Marie Beyon Ray


  1. Congratulations on your "feature". I am not surprised! :)

    Have a great day!


  2. Very interesting! I've often wondered about home schooling for my boy.

    Love the quotes on your side bar! Very apt.

  3. Katy,

    I understood what you were saying!

    We are going to use that Astronomy this year too! I used it with my older kids for science years ago. I really, really like it!

    Congrats on being featured!


  4. Wow....You are so lucky to be able to Homeschool your children. I wish I was able to Homeschool mine. It looks like you get to have so much time with your kids....but my husband won't allow me to Homeschool...:(

  5. Katy, I too am prepping for our school year. We have graduated two now, I'll have a senior in high school and a kindergartener in the fall. I'm having so much fun getting ready to do it all over again with my youngest! Oh, and your printing is GORGEOUS, by the way. I wish I could write that nicely. In too much of a hurry, I guess. ;-) As always, I find so much encouragement in your blog. Keep up the great work! You are ministering to so many of us out here. WE LOVE YOU! ~Kelly in MN

  6. Katy,
    You are a character! I bet you are so much fun to be around-
    I really appreciate your blog and your zeal for Jesus! I also appreciate how you attempt to keep yourself in check for pride. I think you are fine and think its great you were featured.
    Thank you for sharing your planning post. It is. so nice to see what others do. You gave me a light bulb moment when you said that you planned it out but didn't put dates on anything. I would get so upset and frustrated each
    year because I had "worked it out" and then sickness or other would happen, throwing everything off.
    We also use apologia. I have a high schooler and an elemetary kid. I love the way Dr. Wile designed these books,as if he was right there.
    Well, take care and happy schooling!
    Teresa in Ohio

  7. Hi Katy!

    Like you, I've been getting things ready for the upcoming school year and we are all excited!!! I feel so blessed to have been led to teach my children at home!! I know I've said it before but it's worth repeating...YOU encouraged me so much during my first year (and still do)and I am so grateful!!!

    Bless you and thank you!!!

    Amy <><

  8. Katy you are amazing ...such
    a Godly Person... You are making
    a different in so many lifes...
    with the sharing of your Christ-
    Like Wisdom... As always re-freshing
    Many Blessings

  9. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love...thank you, to each of you,for your incredibly kind words.

    Anon~ I am sorry your husband won't allow you to homeschool. Stay in prayer and keep respecting your husband and let God work in him! :)

    You almost made me cry...I am taken aback that God will use someone as insignificant as myself to encourage others. Thank you for your love and encouragement...As well as Trish and Amy...Thank you...your words have uplifted me so! thank you!!! xoxo


    I too would get stressed with the dates...trying to keep up with it all and erasing dates and was such a stresser. To Just designate the days as *day 1* or into weeks *week 1* is so much easier!!! It helps us homeschooling mamas to be more flexible!! :o)

    Sending love to each one of you,

  10. I do my planning and set up very similar. Thanks for sharing. It is always refreshing and neat to read others things. I like the planners? Do you have one for each child?

  11. Hello gotjoy! :)
    Yes, I have a planner for both Madelyn and Xavier. Jaxson is 5 and doing Kgarten work that doesn't need to be handed into the school, so I don't keep his work officially documented! :)

  12. Thanks for answering. I love this idea. I was trying to find a better way at planning sheets. But this could work for me. I will check out the planners.

  13. Your idea about not dating anything is fabulous Katy! Dates have always been the worst for me as far as school records went for me. I'm going to have to take a look around for the printable pages. I also agree with the lady who complimented you on your penmanship - it's really lovely!

  14. Katy,

    I have always been fastinated with the concept of homeschooling and cyber school. Not to be rude to anyone that homeschools their children, but do you and they feel they are getting a "good enough" education to carry them onto college? I ask that question kindly, not judgemental.


  15. Hi Jolene! :)

    Yes, we absolutely feel they are getting a great education! There is more time for one-on-one learning with me and each child. Especially at the elementary school age, we are doing great!
    My husband and I feel that God led us into homeschooling and so with His guidance, we feel secure that it is the best for our children!
    Thank you so much for asking!

  16. Katy,

    Another question about homeschooling that I always wondered about...When your children and older and learning more "complex" subjects such as algebra, trig., chemistry, etc. how does one prepare to teach them that if they don't have a formal education background. Thanks for answering my questions and, again, I am just curious not judging anyone, I mean no harm.

  17. I, myself, took algebra (1 and 2), trig, chem. etc. in school and actually taught my sister chem during her senior year (that she homeschooled) so I am confident that I can teach that to my children...(I actually really like Algebra!)*but* if I run into a snag, there are wonderful resources online and through tutors and other homeschoolers that we can utilize to teach our children things we aren't as familiar with! Often, though, if you get a good textbook or curriculum, it teaches from the book quite well! :o)

    I don't mind your questions at all. They are normal questions we get from people! :) I asked the same ones myself many years ago! :) I hope my answers are helping!


  18. Homeschooling seems amazing and I applaud and admire all the mothers (fathers??) out there doing it.

    Have a great holiday weekend!


  19. It is an amazing and beautiful journey....difficult, time consuming and exhausting at times...but completely worth it! :)

  20. Hey Mama ~ Thanks for inspiring me to organize the upcoming homeschool year!

    And the way you've scheduled your day into parts is genius... I am going to jot that down for sure!!

  21. I'm in the throes of school planning and this post was a great boost to me! Thanks for taking the time to write out the details!

  22. Katy,
    You beat me to the punch on this decision! I came across your post for your first day of school today (Aug. 29, 2011) and thought I'd go looking to see what you used. That is how I arrived at this post. I just received MOTS last week and I have been engrossed in it since! It is exactly what I needed to hear. I am pregnant with number 10, due in November, the Lord willing. I really liked Unit Studies and Charlotte Mason type studies, but they have been wearing me out, leaving huge gaps in the children's education, and not giving me enough time with my young students who really need me now for phonics. Prairie Primer had worked so well 12 years ago! :) This time around with many more children it is not working out so well. Sadly, we are on week 13 so I am torn as to how to proceed.
    We have used CL units and really enjoyed them, but they are workbooks and so must be bought time and time again. Rod and Staff gives a similar education in text books that only need to by bought once and re-used every year.
    Anyway...I'm thinking out loud now. I really enjoyed your post!
    Have a Blessed First Day of School!

  23. Hi Katy!! I absolutely love your blog and visit quite often (I don't usually comment :) ). I love your school planning ideas and you are oh so organized!! We've been homeschooling for 12 years oldest daughter just "graduated" :). My youngest is 7, so we have many years to go (we have 2 in between the youngest and oldest). I've been thinking about switching around how we 'plan' our studies and so I love your ideas. When you plan like this, adding the dates as you complete it....does that mean you disregard the Monday, Tuesday....Friday at the top of your notebook? Also.... I've always liked to do a lot of my planning in the you go ahead and plan your whole school year and then add the dates...or how far in advance do you have planned? I've always tried to plan out our whole school year before school starts, just so I don't have to worry about finding the time to "plan" while we're actually schooling (because of the time involved). Hopefully my questions make sense?! :). Also, could you copy each planner you use for your oldest and then re-use the same plan for your boys?? (I'm always looking for ways to make planning simpler...I love teaching and learning along side my kids, but the planning....not so much ;). ) Thanks! And sorry for this being so long! I lovvvveeeee your blog!!!!!! Blessings to you!, Christy

    1. Hello Christy :) Thanks so much for your kind comment!
      Well, to be honest, our days didn't go perfectly as scheduled...but it was just a guideline for us.

      I still used the Monday-Friday columns and then I just wrote the dates above the days as we completed them. I stuck with the same dates with the days....but you really wouldn't have to. I plan our weeks one or two weeks ahead of time. I plan for the first few weeks in the summer...but not the whole year. I think we definitely *could* do that...and then write the date in as we go and just cross out the days of the week...but I didn't do it that way this year. We would put a small X in the corner of the box of the subject we finished each even if we didn't finish all the subjects one day, we could see, the next day, what still had left to be done. :)

      I don't copy my planner from the oldest to use with the younger children because I will use different books with them and do different science each I just start fresh each year. :)Each school year, I start out with thinking everything will be perfect...but it never is. ;)

      Thank you for visiting. I hope I answered your questions alright. :)

  24. Yes, your answers were so helpful! This is a great way to plan! I will be making some changes this year ;).

    Just FYI....if you ever think about moving....Missouri has great homeschooling 'requirements'. We don't have to submit anything to our local school district. I plan as though someone else could look over what we do and understand, but I really like that it isn't 'required' and that we don't have anyone looking over our shoulder :). I could go on and on about that as well!! :)

    Thank you again! Thank you again for your wonderful blog! In a day and age that doesn't value motherhood and placing your husband and children at the top of your priorities, it is so refreshing to see your love, joy and fulfillment you have in serving your family all day everyday!

    Blessings to you!

  25. Hi Katy

    I was wondering where you got your planner that is pictured above?


    1. Hello Misty! Thanks for stopping by!

      You can find that planner here:


I am always so grateful to read your comments! I thank you for the time you took to visit and share your thoughts with me. :o)
May you enter as a stranger and leave as a friend!
Warmly, Katy