How to Plan Your Homeschool Year When You Don’t Like to Plan

I understand the struggle of not enjoying planning but needing to get my homeschool year organized. It can seem like an impossible task, especially when our goal is to focus on enjoying a lifestyle of learning with our kids. Considering different methods and approaches to homeschool planning, I’ve found that even us planning rebels can simplify and organize our homeschool year effectively.

When I first started homeschooling, I quickly realized the key to overcoming my planning aversion was to create a flexible and interest-led approach. I found it possible to plan a homeschool year while allowing my children to explore their interests and passions. In fact, being flexible and prepared to adapt our plans has become an essential part of our homeschool journey.

I’ve discovered some strategies and resources to help me plan my homeschool year without feeling overwhelmed or bogged down by the process. Implementing these techniques has made our homeschool experience more enjoyable and give us the structure and direction needed to achieve our educational goals.

Looking for more information about homeschool planning? Check out these articles:

Avoid Homeschool Burnout: Smart Goal Setting for the Long Haul

How to Set Goals for Your Homeschool (That You’ll Actually Stick To)

My Step-by-Step Process For Choosing Our Homeschool Curriculum

Understanding Homeschooling Schedules

As someone who dislikes planning, understanding the different homeschooling schedules helped me customize my approach to fit my family’s needs and preferences. This section will briefly discuss the most common scheduling methods: Traditional, Unit Studies, Block Scheduling, and Loop Scheduling.

Traditional

The traditional method is the most familiar to many as it follows a structure similar to public school. I found this method easier to implement when starting out in homeschooling because, as a former middle school history teacher, it’s what came naturally to me. With a traditional approach, your children work through textbooks or workbooks for each subject (e.g., math, science, language arts) on a daily basis. When buying a curriculum, everything is laid out for you, and you and your kids just follow the scope and sequence provided.

Despite requiring less planning, I realized that this method did not cater to the individual learning styles of my children. Plus, my kids were resistant and bored with the work, as it didn’t allow us to follow our interests naturally.

Unit Studies

Unit studies focus on a central theme or topic, integrating various subjects around that theme. I personally enjoyed this method as it allowed me to explore topics that genuinely interested my children, such as sharks or space. Incorporating multiple subjects within one topic makes learning more engaging and relevant. However, I had to be cautious about not neglecting certain subjects while designing unit studies.

Block Scheduling

With block scheduling, we concentrate on one or two subjects for a set period of time before moving on to the next set of subjects. This method allows my children to focus and dive deeper into a subject without constantly switching between topics. It also reduces planning as I only have to plan for a single subject at a time. For example, we could focus on science for six weeks and history for another six weeks. Core subjects, such as math and language arts, were still covered daily in our home. You can block schedule in many other ways, but this is what worked best for us.

Loop Scheduling

Loop scheduling is the most flexible method I found for our daily work (math, writing, and reading), which is particularly helpful if I don’t feel like planning. I simply list the subjects and topics on a loop, and we work through them one at a time.

Once we reach the end of the list, we start again at the beginning. This way, I don’t need to set specific days for each subject, and we can adjust our pace as needed. It allows for a more relaxed homeschooling atmosphere and can be easily adapted to meet my family’s changing needs and interests.

Understanding these various homeschooling methods and formats has allowed me to discover that an eclectic approach suited my family without stressing about extensive planning. Each method has its merits, and experimenting with different approaches can lead to finding the perfect fit for your homeschool.

Setting Homeschool Goals

When planning my homeschool year, setting homeschool goals is essential for success. Establishing clear academic goals helps my children and me stay focused and motivated throughout the year. Even though I’m not a big fan of planning, I’ve found that breaking down the homeschooling process into smaller, manageable steps keeps things organized and ensures that we cover essential topics.

The first thing I do when setting homeschool goals is to involve my children in the process. We create goals that align with their needs and desires by discussing their interests and areas they’d like to improve. One way to do this is by using a brainstorming session or discussing potential goals over a family meeting.

Once we have a list of potential goals, I prioritize them based on their importance and relevance to my child’s current academic needs. For example, if one of my children struggles with math, improving their math skills would be a higher priority. I find that focusing on 2-3 main goals per child prevents us from becoming overwhelmed during the year.

Next, I break each goal into smaller, achievable milestones. For instance:

  • Finish math curriculum by the end of the year
    • Complete one chapter per week
      • Work on math for 20-30 minutes 3-4 days/week

Breaking down the goals into smaller steps makes it easier for us to monitor our progress throughout the year, adjust our plans as needed, and celebrate small victories along the way.

I also take advantage of our available resources by exploring various online sources like Pam Barnhill and Happy Homeschool Nest to find tips and strategies for setting homeschool goals effectively.

Finally, I make sure to revisit and evaluate our homeschool goals periodically, adjusting them if necessary. This ensures that we stay on track and adapt to any changes in our children’s learning needs or interests.

By setting homeschool goals, even though I’m not a big fan of planning, I ensure that we stay on track, keep motivated, and continue working towards our academic targets throughout the year.

Kids homeschooling

Choosing Your Curriculum

As a homeschooling parent who dislikes planning, I know choosing the right curriculum is crucial to providing structure and ensuring my children get a well-rounded education. This section discusses how I approach selecting curricula for different subjects, including Language Arts, Math, Science, History, and Art.

Language Arts

When selecting a Language Arts curriculum, I first consider my child’s reading and writing abilities. Many programs are available that cater to different learning styles and methodologies, such as Charlotte Mason-inspired and literature-based approaches to name a few. While making my decision, I balance my child’s interests with the program’s structure and adaptability, which would help me stay on track without being overwhelmed.

For my children, I’ve found that the online reading and writing program Night Zookeeper makes all of our lives easier. There’s no planning on my part except for adding it to our loop schedule, plus my kids can easily work on it independently, so one less subject for me to teach!

Math

When looking for a suitable math curriculum, I focus on finding one that caters to my child’s comprehension level and learning pace. There are numerous math programs that use varied teaching methods, such as hands-on activities, online resources, and textbooks. I aim to choose a curriculum with clear instructions that can be adjusted to my child’s progress while ensuring crucial concepts are covered.

My kids have really loved Beast Academy, and my oldest has been using their online program, which is a rigorous self-paced math curriculum for elementary students. It focuses on mastery and problem-solving skills which are essential for math success.

My younger kids enjoy the comic-style math books as well as the puzzles and games featured in the practice materials, and I highly recommend giving it a try! It’s also made our homeschool a lot more fun and engaging.

Science

Incorporating science into my homeschooling plan involves selecting a curriculum that fosters my children’s curiosity and covers fundamental topics across different branches. I explore resources that offer a blend of hands-on experiments, observations, and research to keep my children engaged and introduce them to real-world applications of scientific principles.

Lately, I’ve relied on science kits like Crunch Labs, Generation Genius, Homes Science Tools, and MEL Science. These kits have been an invaluable resource for helping my children learn about science concepts in a fun and interactive way. The materials are top-quality, the experiments easy to understand, and the results really impressive. I’m sure that these kits will help my children develop interests in science that could last a lifetime!

I also appreciate how much easier these kits make my life as a homeschooler. I don’t have to order multiple supplies or search for activities; all the materials and instructions come in one place. No planning on my part!!

History

For history, I search for curriculum options that provide a comprehensive, objective view of past events and encourage critical thinking. I prefer resources incorporating primary sources and diverse perspectives to help my children build a holistic understanding of history while developing analytical skills.

I want to ensure that my child won’t end up with a narrow-minded and biased worldview, so it’s important to me that the curriculum offers an unbiased look at history from different angles. I’m looking for a historically accurate, engaging, and balanced approach to learning about the past.

This means that I have yet to find the perfect history curriculum out there, so I’ve created my own unit studies and used various resources to supplement our learning. This is where I put the most effort into my planning!

As a former middle school history teacher, this is right up my alley and easy for me to do. If history is not your thing, I understand if you don’t want to go this route, but I do encourage you to lean into your interests and put a lot of effort into that, if nothing else. Enthusiasm is contagious, and your kids will hopefully show interest, too.

But if you’re looking for something easy without planning, I recommend checking out History Unboxed. It’s a subscription service that provides history-based activities for homeschooling. They provide you with everything you need to do the activity, including instructions and materials. Plus, they have different levels of difficulty, so no matter what grade your child is in, there’s something that will fit them.

The best part about History Unboxed is that it’s interactive and fun. Your kids will have a blast doing the activities, and they’ll learn something too! Plus, each month comes with new and exciting activities based on different historical events. It’s like a mini-field trip every time you open the box! So if you’re looking for an easy way to teach history in your homeschool, History Unboxed is the perfect option.

Art

I love art, but I’m terrible at teaching it, so I’ve opted to use online programs like Art History for Kids, Masterpiece Society, and You Are An Artist! to teach my kids. They provide step-by-step lessons, activities, videos, and worksheets that help break down each topic in an easy-to-understand way.

My oldest son can complete his art assignments independently while I work together with my little ones. And yes, I do the art with my kids! It’s so much fun!!! We make it a regular part of our homeschool week, which the whole family enjoys.

Not only has this made teaching art easier for me (because I don’t have to do the teaching!), but it has also encouraged a greater appreciation of art among my kids. We often take time out after each lesson to discuss the history of the artwork or artist we studied and explore the various styles of art. It has been such a rewarding experience for all of us!

Child with paint on hands

Creating a Flexible Homeschool Routine

As a homeschooling parent, I’ve found that planning a flexible routine is essential, especially when I’m not a fan of strict planning. In this section, I’ll share some tips and ideas to help you create a flexible homeschool routine that works for you and your family.

Schedules

The first step in creating a flexible homeschool routine is to decide on the type of schedule that best fits your needs. This can vary greatly from family to family. Some might prefer block scheduling focusing on specific subject blocks weekly, while others might find a term-based approach works better. I find that adding buffers to our schedule instead of tightly scheduling every moment allows us to be more adaptable and less stressed throughout the homeschooling year.

Moreover, determining if you want a year-round or a traditional school-year schedule helps provide guidance for further planning. For example, you can adopt the 6 weeks on, 1 week off approach or the 3 months on, 1 month off approach if you plan on schooling year-round.

On the other hand, you can opt to extend or shorten the traditional school year depending on your time needs and preferences. Homeschooling is a highly individualized activity where each family creates their own unique approach that works best for them.

It’s easy to idealize a specific homeschool schedule when you’re planning, but what works on paper may not work in real life if you’re not realistic about the amount of time and energy you can dedicate to homeschooling.

To ensure success, starting simply with a consistent routine that works for your family is best. You can then gradually add in additional activities as you become more comfortable and confident in your homeschooling journey.

As you create a plan, ensure that it’s something that is sustainable over the long term and allows ample time for field trips, projects, extra-curricular activities, and more.

Changes and Adaptations

But don’t forget to adjust your schedule as needed when life throws you a curveball — such as an illness, impromptu field trip, or last-minute vacation — as it’s important to remain flexible and proactive in response to changing circumstances. I like to have a loose plan that allows for adjustments with minimal disruption.

  1. Plan breaks: It’s important to include both short and long breaks throughout the homeschool year. These include a mid-morning snack break and lunchtime play to vacation and extended breaks from homeschooling. This ensures that everyone, including you, can recharge and avoid burnout.
  2. Evaluate progress regularly: Make it a point to review your progress and make any necessary adjustments every few weeks. This helps you identify if you need to spend more time on a particular subject or if a change in curriculum might be beneficial.
  3. Be adaptable: Homeschooling, by nature, offers flexibility that traditional schools often can’t provide. It’s crucial to embrace this flexibility and use it when life events, health issues, or family circumstances call for changes in your homeschool schedule.

By focusing on the type of schedule that best suits your family’s needs and being open to change and adaptations throughout the year, you can create a flexible homeschool schedule that keeps your family on track without being overly rigid or stressful.

Organizing Your Homeschool Year

Calendar Planning

When planning my homeschool year, I create a Google calendar specific to our homeschool that I can share with my husband and oldest son. I start by determining when we would start and end our homeschool year and determine any natural breaks we want to take (like holidays, summer, birthdays, and more). Using color-coding blocks, I then fill in important events, classes, and extracurricular activities.

Looking at the big picture helps me see where we need to flex or plan better for the upcoming year. I also make sure I have our charter school’s schedule handy to ensure my plans align with theirs. With that information, I can create a plan that will keep us on track for the year while allowing for plenty of fun and exploration!

Resources and Inventory

After creating our calendar, I take an inventory of our homeschool resources. This includes materials like curricula, books, and supplies. I make a list of everything we have and categorize them by subject. I know this seems super extra, but my ADHD brain needs this structure, so I’m not all over the place and overwhelmed with homeschool supplies.

I then assess what I still need to purchase or borrow. If (big IF here!) I keep this inventory up-to-date every quarter, by year’s end, I will know which resources we found helpful and which ones could be replaced the following year.

Field Trips

Field trips are an important part of our homeschool, providing hands-on learning experiences for my kids. I start by researching possible field trips in our local area or within a reasonable driving distance. I then see if there are homeschool days or special programs available. I organize the possible field trips and which subjects they correspond to and add them to a database. If I take the time to do this once, I don’t have to waste time doing it repeatedly.

Here are some ideas for field trips:

  • Museums
  • Historical sites
  • Parks and nature centers
  • Science centers
  • Art galleries
  • Hiking trails
Woman and girl walking down steps inside the Reagan Presidential Library

Using Planning Tools and Techniques

As a homeschooling parent, I’ve found that using various planning tools and techniques can make the process less overwhelming and more enjoyable, even if planning isn’t something I typically look forward to. In this section, I’ll discuss some popular tools like homeschool planners, Google Classroom, and ClickUp that can help streamline the planning process and keep us organized.

Homeschool Planner

I started my homeschool planning journey with a traditional teacher’s planner and then eventually migrated over to a planner geared toward homeschoolers. This can be a physical or digital tool, with many available in the form of printables or interactive formats. These planners come with sections for managing:

  • Subject-specific lesson plans
  • Goals and progress tracking
  • Calendars and scheduling
  • Records and reports

Using a designated homeschool planner helped me keep all of my planning materials in one place, making it easy to reference, update, and maintain consistency in my homeschool routine.

However, I realized that planners had spaces for more information than I needed, leaving many pages blank. So the past few years, I’ve used a simple (and CHEAP!) quad-ruled spiral notebook that I can fully customize to suit my planning needs.

I have one where I do our weekly and daily planning, while my kids each have their own with their daily to-do list they can check off. It’s simple, and it works for us. For unit studies, or deep dives as I like to call them, I prefer to use digital project management tools like Google Classroom and ClickUp to help organize and plan.

Google Classroom

Another tool I’ve found useful is Google Classroom, which has allowed me to create a virtual environment for organizing assignments, providing feedback, and tracking my kids’ progress. With Google Classroom, I can:

  • Assign and collect work digitally
  • Post announcements and reminders
  • Create quizzes
  • Collaborate with my kids
  • And so much more!

Google Classroom also offers flexibility and customization to suit your family’s homeschooling needs, so be willing to think outside the box when you set up your classroom. If you would like to learn more about how to use Google Classroom in your homeschool, check out Carrier Shell Curriculum’s website, as Christine Echeverri offers an Online Tools Parent Workshop a few times a year.

ClickUp

If you prefer something even more flexible and customizable, ClickUp is a project management platform that can be tailored specifically to homeschool planning. Like Trello, it allows for creating boards, tasks, and checklists to manage different aspects of homeschooling. In ClickUp, you can create the following:

  • Customized spaces for each subject or student
  • Task lists for assignments, events, and resources
  • Checklists, timelines, and dependencies for project management
  • Reminders, due dates, and notifications

The flexibility of ClickUp has allowed me to adapt and personalize my homeschool planning approach as needed, ensuring a more efficient and enjoyable planning experience. Plus, I use ClickUp to manage my coaching practice, blogs, and youtube channels, so having a homeschool space on the platform makes my life more streamlined.

Bonus points, my kids are learning project management skills which will greatly benefit them in the future. It’s really a win-win! The interface is extremely user-friendly, and I can easily adjust due dates or create reminders for upcoming deep dives. With all the features available, there’s something for everyone.

All in all, ClickUp has been an invaluable asset to my homeschooling journey – highly recommend it! If you’re looking for a ClickUp homeschooling template, Meagan Beltekoglu at New Leaf Digital has a couple in her shop.

Child working in Singapore Math workbook

Record-Keeping and Routine

Establishing a homeschool planning routine is crucial to staying consistent, even if you don’t enjoy planning. My first step is creating a basic weekly schedule every Sunday evening, including the subjects we cover daily. I find using my trusty notebook efficient enough for the task, and it literally takes me 10 minutes. I avoid over-planning and keep the schedule flexible to accommodate changes and unexpected events.

Organizing our homeschool space also helps me maintain a routine. Every evening after dinner, I clear the area of distractions and make sure supplies are easily accessible for the next day. I write down my kids’ to-lists in their notebooks and gather the materials they will need to complete their tasks.

I also write down our agenda for the day on the chalkboard in our kitchen. (We need a lot of reminders so we don’t get off track!!) All of this helps maintain an organized environment conducive to learning, and it takes me just 10 minutes each weeknight to prepare.

Regarding record-keeping, I’ve learned the importance of keeping track of my kids’ progress. Some states in the US require homeschool families to maintain certain records, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with your local regulations. I use a mix of digital and physical methods to store our completed work, assignments, and tests. I find it helpful to create a record-keeping system that suits my needs and preferences.

For instance, I categorize subjects and store them in separate digital folders. I also have my kids keep the physical assignment that they digitally (scan and upload) turn in each month to our charter school in a notebook. This helps all of us stay organized and ensures that I have all the necessary documents in case I need to resubmit them to our charter school here in California.

Plus, it’s a good habit to get into, especially as your child enters middle school and high school, where record-keeping and work samples are a must, especially if you want your child to have the option to go to college.

Woman looking at computer

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, setting reasonable homeschool goals, creating a flexible planning routine, organizing your homeschool space, and establishing an effective record-keeping system are essential steps in planning a homeschool year, even if you don’t particularly enjoy the process. By adopting these strategies, I have found that the work I put up front makes it easier to stay on track and provide my kids with a consistent and peaceful educational experience.

Remember! Keep it simple, keep it fun, keep it effortless!

Do you need more help leaning into a relaxed homeschool mindset? I’m here to help you – let’s chat!


Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and Holistic Homeschool Mindset Coach. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.


Hey, it's Xuan!

Homeschooling should be easy and joyful, not stressful and overwhelming. As a Homeschool Mentor and Slow Living Coach, I am here to support you and guide you through every step of your homeschooling journey.

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The Homeschool Front contains some contextual affiliate links and sponsored content. An affiliate link is a link in which retail partners have agreed to pay a small commission for purchases made from that click-through. As always, I only recommend curriculum and resources that we actually use and love in our homeschool. Thank you for supporting the partners that allow The Homeschool Front to keep on running!

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