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The first day of school is always so exciting. All that potential just sitting in front of you on the dining room table, waiting to be explored even gets the kids excited! But the last month or two can be so frustrating, as you’re rushing to complete all the things that need to be done before your records are due or it’s time to leave for summer vacation. That’s why creating lesson plans for your homeschool can be such a worthy investment (and a simple one!).
Getting Ready for A New Homeschool Year Series:
Creating Lesson Plans is Important
Creating lesson plans isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it’s a lot more simple than many people realize. Some homeschooling moms live by them and some positively hate them. My experience tells me that it’s important to have them. It’s up to you how detailed you make them, or how simple you keep them. Having a snapshot of your year at the beginning is important, though, as it helps guide your activity. Once you get into the higher grade levels, it ensures your children have a solid foundation to complete their required high school credits, as well.
It’s also great for your students because they’ll have a snapshot of what each day should look like. I never worried about creating lesson plans when all I had were lower elementary students, honestly. However, now that I’m responsible for not only parenting but home educating more than half a dozen of my precious children, creating lesson plans is an essential step to my success and sanity. And the truth is, even if I only had one student, they make our learning time run more efficiently and as the students get older it gives them more independence.
Creating Lesson Plans is Simple
The first step is to look at your curriculum, one subject at a time, and determine how many lessons there are to complete and how many days will be needed per lesson. Then you fit that into your school year (however many days that is). It’s quite simple!
Some subjects and companies make this step easier than others, and I tend to use those. Teaching Textbooks, for instance, is completed in a school year by doing one lesson per day. Notgrass History is arranged into 150 lessons, so again it’s a simple matter for the student to complete one lesson per day. Apologia Science includes a schedule for the year at the front of their notebooking journals, if you choose to purchase those, which breaks the entire course down into daily assignments. Please note, I’m not receiving any commission from these companies to share this with you; I’m just passing this along in case you need something that makes your school year fun and easy like we did!
We have 180 days in our school year (or 36 weeks), but only 150 days of science and history. That leaves us with 30 days where we aren’t doing those subjects. So for 25 weeks of our year, I give my kids a lighter load on Fridays. Next year, however, we’ll have one day in the middle of the week where we are doing some things out of the house, and our lighter day will actually be that day. Homeschool lesson plans are for you to set to simplify your life, so make sure they do that! If you’re wondering where our “extra” 5 days go, I save those for field trips!
Creating Lesson Plans is Both Fun & Liberating
When I first started homeschooling, we were quite eclectic and delight directed. I took my two young children to the library and we would check out four or five dozen books every single week. We read for hours every day it seemed. We went on nature walks, explored the local museums and zoo, and just immersed ourselves in learning. It was a fun few years, and I’ll always treasure them.
I shied away from what I thought of as rigid lesson plans that would squash our fun and extinguish the love for learning that I had worked so hard to cultivate in my children. Have you felt that way?
I understand. But I was so wrong, and you are, too, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Creating lesson plans is not only rewarding and great for time management, but it’s also fun and liberating. Now we know what we want to do and we make sure that we have the time to do it. One thing I saw happening as my children got older, and as there came to be more of them, was that we would plan to go to the art museum “one day soon” or to the huge library across town “sometime next month” and never get to it. But if it’s in the lesson plans? It happens!
Looking through our curriculum at the start of each year and mapping out each day makes weekly preparation easy. It lets me know what I need to set up for my kids at the start of each week, and gives me the chance to plan some fun surprises in. For instance, we take off a week for Thanksgiving, two for Christmas, two for a family vacation, and have 5 random field trip days scattered throughout our year. We have “catch up” days worked in at least once a month, too. We use these for projects, extra tutoring, or just to delve more deeply into something that fascinates us.
One of my favorite changes for this year is one that God had laid on my heart to do last year, and because I didn’t intentionally plan it, it never happened. I talked to several other moms about it, and was surprised that I am not alone in doing this, either. We are going to school for 6 weeks and then take one week off. Kind of a modified version of Sabbath rest, if you will. I can’t wait to see the stress this relieves.
You Can Create Homeschool Lesson Plans!
Just ask yourself:
- How many days is our homeschool year?
- How many days of work do we need to complete each subject?
- What special trips or projects are we going to do and when?
- Do we have any special occasions that we want to be free to enjoy?
Then fill in your lesson plan! Personally, it’s great to fill in holidays, trips, and other important dates first, then work your way into filling the rest around it. One way to consider planning is to do school for six weeks, then take the 7th week off to play catch up and then just play…and you’ll have the freedom to do this, because you’ve got a plan in place. Or, if you want to school year round, you could even do four weeks on, one week off. Again, you are the one creating lesson plans, so you get to choose!
Making a plan allows you to be productive enough to take the time to stop and smell the roses. It’s simple and fun and freedom-giving. It allows you to plan to take intentional days off to adventure, to relax, or to celebrate while still getting done all you need. The first year I made a plan, it amazed me how much more we accomplished and how much less stressed we were.
We all enjoyed how much more time we had to adventure as a family. It was so nice not to be overwhelmed at the end of the year, trying to finish everything just so we could start a new year all over again. Creating lesson plans has been one of my priorities ever since I realized that the boundaries they create actually do give freedom. And psssst…if something comes up, you can always change them — use your pencil!