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I’ve been chatting with lots of my mom friends lately about homeschooling. Why? Because this is the time of year when I start planning for the next one and organizing our next homeschool year. I always start by reading my verse for the year and praying. If I don’t do that first, I know nothing that comes after it will last. Then I start reading and chatting!
We educate year round, but our school calendar runs from June 1-May 31 of each year. That’s why at the end of March each year, I start to analyze what has worked well, what we need to change, and what we need for the following year. I like to buy our curriculum for the following year in the spring so we can get rolling right away (and I have my tax return to help buy it!). In our family, we choose to school across twelve months, taking breaks when Daddy has time off from work, for family vacations throughout the year, sick days, and just unplanned treats!
This year, we’ll be taking a camping trip in the summer, we have a new baby coming in the fall which will involve a 2 week break, a special guest visiting sometime after the baby comes and before the holidays that we’ll want to be able to visit with unhindered by school work, we will take a week each for Thanksgiving and Christmas, two or three days for our Epiphany feast (aka Ukrainian Christmas), and will take a family trip in late winter. Schooling throughout the year gives us the freedom to take all of these days off, and then more as we need them! One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is that we have the liberty to do what works the best for our family.
So how do we organize our school year?
I take a few minutes to read the passage of Scripture God laid on my heart for his year (see the photo at the start of the post) and then I ask Him to show me what we need to focus on. I want my kids to graduate with much more than a wonderful academic foundation; I want their hearts to love God first and their character to reflect that. I must start, continue, and stay in prayer and submission to God’s leading.
Ask: What Worked Last Year?
For example, this year we have been using Life of Fred math and it worked well, but one of my learners needs a lot more practice than what was afforded in the books. That same student doesn’t read as well as some of my others, so we are adding Teaching Textbooks to our year for this student (and the others, who now want to do math on the computer, too, because it’s so cool) while continuing to use LoF. Grammar seems to be a weak area, so we are going to be using Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind workbooks each day. History has been a huge hit this year, so we will continue to use Mystery of History for our spine, while reading from other sources on occasion (primarily Usborne books, but also using Guerber’s histories and some things from Story of the World). If you’d like to buy any of these from Amazon, my affiliate link is HERE and blesses our family and will help me buy my curriculum from Amazon (I find it is most often the least expensive option for all of these and everything else we use, too. Any Amazon link is an affiliate one in this post. Thank you!
List Out Subjects
Simple, right? Make a list under each child’s name with the subjects they need to study. Then decide what is necessary for that study. Overlap textbooks whenever you can, because it’s always more fun in a group.
This year’s line-up is as follows:
- Science: Apologia Anatomy for Young Explorers as well as the accompanying notebooking journal (they also have a junior version for lower elementary!)
- Math: Life of Fred, Teaching Textbooks
- Spelling: Spelling Power (check out e-bay for a great deal!)
- Grammar: Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind 3 (and also 4)
- Handwriting: Italics
- History & Geography: Mystery of History II and audio CDs (as well as the SOTW book and workbook and Guerber’s Histories linked to above)
- Foreign Language: Prima Latina
- Bible: Apologia’s apologetics text “Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him” with accompanying notebooking journal
After that, I come up with an approximate time schedule for each subject so that I know how to plan our days. I know, it looks like a lot, but it’s really not. It’s about 4 hours a day and can go shorter or longer depending on how well each child understands and how well disciplined they are. Scince and history should really only be about 30 minutes, but we always end up digging in and chatting so I gave us extra time on this next year’s schedule. I will also give each child 30 minutes of individual tutoring time. Here’s how our time breaks down:
- Science: 45 minutes
- Math: 30 minutes
- Spelling: 20 minutes
- Grammar: 20 minutes
- Handwriting: 20 minutes
- History & Geography: 45 minutes
- Prima Latina: 30 minutes
- Bible: 20 minutes
Make a Plan
Decide how many days your school year is (this is often state mandated). Look at what each subject contains and how much you need to do each day to complete it in one year. We actually plan to do all of our subjects with a 3-4 week cushion so that we have time for spontaneous field trips, catch up days, and days to just dive in deeper if a subject catches our attention.
I know I already said that, but seriously: PRAY. Prayer is the most important thing we can do for our kids, for our husbands, and yes, even for our homeschool.