Homeschooling is an incredibly rewarding experience. Children get to learn on their own schedule, develop their skills and passions with the help of dedicated parents and guardians, and avoid some of the distractions found in traditional classrooms.
But creating a successful homeschool curriculum is a daunting task for even the most experienced of educators. In order to make sure your homeschool experience is successful for all involved, having a well thought-out, comprehensive homeschool planner is invaluable. In this article, you will learn the essentials of a good homeschool planner and how to put it together.
1. Goals and Objectives
Before crafting a homeschool curriculum and planning activities, it helps to have a purpose. Goals and objectives provide the framework for the planning process.
Goals are broad statements about the learning you wish to accomplish within a certain area, such as introducing your student to classic literature or teaching them how to read music. Objectives are more granular and represent the measurable, achievable learning outcomes. For example, if literature is the goal then objectives could be to read four classic novels and understand the basic elements of a tragedy.
Clearly defining goals and objectives helps structure the learning process and keeps it on track.
2. Subject Areas and Activities
After creating the learning goals and objectives, it’s time to consider what subject areas, activities, and experiences are necessary to reach those goals. Picking the right curriculum and resources, differentiating instruction as needed, and evaluating progress throughout the year are all important components of a homeschool scheme, but there should also be a mix of activities to keep learning varied and fun. The best homeschool plans have a mixture of core subjects such as English, Math, Science and Social Studies as well as electives like Music, Art, and Physical Education.
Additionally, planning outdoor and educational field trips adds more depth to the homeschooling experience for students.
A successful homeschool plan puts learning in an easy-to-follow schedule. Scheduling the day or week helps students understand their expectations and keep up with their tasks, while providing a sense of normalcy and consistency. How you plan the schedule should be based on your goals, objectives, and student’s preferences.
Flexibility is key so leave enough room in your plan for changes in the event of a field trip, illness, or lack of motivation. A good homeschool planner will provide a plan for the entire educational year in the form of a block schedule that includes recess, lunch or snack breaks, and field trips.
4. Assessments and Evaluations
The best homeschool planners provide opportunities for assessment and evaluation on a regular basis. This makes it easier to track progress, identify any obstacles or challenges, and take corrective action.
Step 1 is to record the data in the planner. Step 2 is using the data gathered to set benchmarks for students and adjust the learning plan accordingly. Step 3 is to use the evaluation to form the assessments, such as administering quizzes, writing reports, or presenting for a project-based topic.
Step 4 is to review the results and modify the plan by adding or removing activities.
5. Resources and Materials Needed
Homeschooling requires resources and materials like textbooks, worksheets, lab materials, and other tools to be successful. As you plan out the homeschool lessons and activities, you should include a list of these materials and resources. Having the necessary items beforehand will make the learning process easier and more effective.
Additionally, resource lists in the planner can help you apply for any financial assistance available to ease the cost of materials.
6. Collaboration and Communication
Homeschooling functions best when there is collaboration and communication amongst the students, families, friends, tutors, teachers, and any other stakeholders involved in the planning. Connecting with others helps create a learning environment that is more personalized, engaging, and conducive to growth. Collaboration also helps potential homeschoolers better understand the process, ask questions, and get helpful advice from experienced homeschoolers.
7. Breakdown of Activities
Once a yearly timeline is created, break down the activities and subjects into manageable chunks such as daily, weekly, or monthly blocks of time. Doing this is key for keeping the curriculum organized and student’s goals achievable.
Make sure each activity has enough time for the student to master it within the allotted time frame. Additionally, if there is too much content and not enough time, review the goals and objectives and adjust the scheduling of activities accordingly.
8. Planning Tools
Different homeschoolers will need different planning tools, depending on the learning environment and student. The most popular planning tools are paper planners and calendars, which can be used to organize activities and track student progress easily.
Other homeschoolers have found success using online applications, such as digital calendars and grade book apps for more advanced management of lessons and assessments.
No matter how detailed, comprehensive, and organized a homeschool plan is, there will always be moments when adjustments need to be made due to unexpected external or internal factors. A good planner will have room to make these adjustments on the fly, while still keeping the original learning goal intact.
Staying flexible and understanding that there will be times when the curriculum needs to change is an essential part of the homeschooling experience.
10. Student Input
Planning a homeschool curriculum should also involve the student’s input. Inviting the student to participate in the planning process is a great way to make them part of their own learning journey.
Discussing the goals and objectives, deciding on activities and resources, and providing feedback on what worked or didn’t work are important steps to create an empowering homeschool experience.
11. Record Keeping
Accurate record-keeping is also an invaluable part of a good homeschool plan. Recording assignments and activities, tracking progress and evaluations, and keeping relevant documents and resources are all important pieces of a homeschool record that not only can help track progress, but also show outside stakeholders the value of homeschooling.
12. Adapting to Environment
Homeschooling requires a lot of planning, and one key aspect of that planning is to make sure the curriculum and associated activities can be adapted to the environment. Homeschooling can be done in a variety of settings – in a classroom, outdoors, or during trips and field visits.
The activities you plan should all be able to be done in the environment of your choosing.
13. Setting Appropriate Expectations
It is important to set appropriate expectations within your homeschool plan so that students know what is expected of them and the kinds of outcomes that you are aiming for. Setting the standards too low can lead to the feeling of boredom, while setting it too high can be overwhelming.
Setting achievable but challenging goals for students can help keep them motivated and be a more rewarding experience for both you and the student.
Creating a comprehensive homeschooling plan is an important step towards a successful homeschool experience for both students and adults. Not only does a good plan provide a framework for the learning journey, but it also helps with resource gathering, collaboration, accountability, and problem-solving. While it takes a lot of work to create a successful plan, the rewards will certainly pay off in the long run.