Welcome!
I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. An advocate of slow food and simple living. A keeper of memories, a collector of books, and a champion for second-generation homeschooling. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, June 10, 2013

5 Days of Scheduling Your Entire Homeschool Year {Day 1}

5 Days of Scheduling Young Entire Homeschool Year-The Unlikely Homeschool

I am a self-professed, card-carrying member of the I HAVE A PLAN AND I'M STICKING TO IT club.

Ok, so technically, there is no club.  And since there is no club, there is also no card.  But, if there were, I'd not only have a card, it would be laminated and tucked neatly next to my I'M OBSESSED WITH STATIONARY SUPPLIES club card. (This post contains affiliate links.)

Pheew...now that I've unloaded all of that on you, you're probably not surprised to learn that as a homeschooling mom, I have a homeschooling plan. In fact, I have a plan for the ENTIRE homeschool year.


While some might baulk at the idea of scheduling the whole year in advance assuming that a prescribed plan removes all possibility of delight-directed learning or cultivating natural curiosity, I would propose that it does just the opposite...at least in my experience, anyway.

But we'll get to that.
First things first.

Before we get too far into the HOWs and WHYs of making a yearly plan, I first want to temper this week-long look at scheduling with the following disclaimers:

  • I am an external processor.  I navigate my life and filter my thoughts outwardly in words...in person or on paper...or a blog as the case may be {ahem!}.  While some might be able to have a loose, MENTAL plan of action for the school year, I prefer a WRITTEN, more concrete version.  That's me.  If that's not you, than feel free to just say "pass".
  • I am an eclectic homeschooler.  I pull homeschooling resources from several different methodologies of education and different publishers of products.  If you, on the other hand, are more of an "all-in-one-box" kind of gal, your planning steps might look slightly different than mine.  And that's OK.  Po-ta-to. Po-tah-to.
  • I love my Well-Planned Day Planner, but there are many other homeschool mom planners on the market.  Feel free to take my ideas and tweak them to suite your planner of choice.  
  • The thought of scheduling the entire year might seem overwhelming to some.  There's no shame in admitting that.  I'd encourage you to take the principles I will share in the next few days and adapt them to planning for just a semester, a month, or even a week in advance. 


Now that you know that I am a planner, perhaps you'd like to know HOW and WHY I plan for homeschooling.  In the coming four days, I will be giving you a sneak-peak at the HOWs, but today I'd like to look at the WHYs.

A plan brings freedom

One of my most favorite parts of homeschooling my children is being able to provide a well-rounded, enriched education by encouraging them in their own unique talents and interests.  By taking the time in the summer to formulate a skeletal plan for the CORE areas of study, I don't have to waste my time each evening or their time each day during the school year trying to structure all the "HAVE TOs".  I can use that time to provide some of the "WANT TOs".  We have the freedom to take rabbit trails, create memories, and explore new interests because we HAVE THE TIME.  The foundation has already been created. 

A plan affords flexibility

Let's face it, the only NORMAL homeschool day is an abnormal one.  With many children to educate and a few more clamoring for my motherly attention, I have to maintain flexibility.  With a skeletal plan of the day's lessons already established, I can see at a glance what subjects need concentrated effort and what subjects won't require as much time and attention that day.  If we have to jet off to an unplanned doctor's appointment or make a meal for a sick friend, I can quickly glance at my plan and know what can easily be brought along with us or can be started and then put on "pause" until later that day.

A plan provides a goal

As the old saying goes, "Without a plan, you plan to fail."  Having a year-long plan sets definitive goals for both me and my children.  While we may not complete every jot and tittle of the plan each day, we always maintain forward motion because there is a clear and KNOWN goal.  My children's education is of high priority to me.  I can not afford to slip into idleness.  Having a plan...or a goal...motivates me into action!

A plan creates a "season"

Scripture reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that there is a season for everything under the heavens.  While each season of creation is different, they all have two common distinctions...a BEGINNING and an END.  The very nature of a year-long lesson plan creates an obvious START and an obvious END...a season.  Without a plan of action, how can anyone know when the action is completed?

My children and I looooooved our colonial unit study a few years ago, so much so that it would have been easy to camp there for the entire year or even for a few YEARS.  But, by detaining our learning to just ONE PARTICULAR season and never having a plan to move forward, I would be withholding so many opportunities to venture into other wonderful seasons of education.

On the flipside, after a few weeks of long division practice, my daughter was more than ready to move onto something else.  Having a visible end in sight, helped to motivate her to keep going.  

A plan echos God's character

At the risk of making organization into a spiritual debate, I believe PLANS and ORDER are clearly seen in God's design and in His very nature.  Psalm 139:116 shows us that God, himself, has a "planner" filled with our "days".  

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

He has written them out already and ordered them in a unique way.  Why?  Because He is a God of order...not chaos...not happen-chance.  ORDER.  He formed the universe with distinct plans and set them in motion with a distinct time frame.  If I seek to mirror my life after His ways, why wouldn't I find value in having a plan too?

Please join me for all FIVE days of Scheduling Your Entire Homeschool Year.


In the meantime, head on over to enter to win your very own copy of my favorite homeschool mom's planner

5 Days of Scheduling Your Entire Homeschool Year

Once again, I've teamed up with the talented ladies of iHomeschool Network to bring you a week-long Summer Hopscotch series.  

30 comments:

  1. You are amazing! That's all I have to say. Even though I tend to me more of a "let's wing it" type of a person, I SOOO admire you "planners" and try to implement planning into our homeschool as much as my spontaneous self can handle. I'm going to enjoy these posts! Hope you're having a great day. :) :)

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  2. YES! And how I got my Sunday nights back!

    http://preschoolersandpeace.com/blog/planning-a-whole-year-of-homeschooling-part-one.html

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  3. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week here at your blog. I'm in the process of making plans for the year also.

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  4. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week's posts, Jamie. I've never been one to plan out the entire year over the summer, but after reading some of your successes with doing so, I've been giving it some serious consideration. So, I look forward to what you have to say this week. :)

    As a seasoned (almost 10 years) homeschooler, I would like to say something...if that's okay. YES, I know this is your blog, your space, your site. Which means you're free to voice your opinions/ideas/tips/strategies/etc. It does seem, though, that you've really got a "bring the school system home" mentality (aka the "school-at-home" style). Which I can understand, since you used to be a public school teacher. I can also understand this because for about the first...hmm...4-5? years of homeschooling, I was the exact same way--and proud of it. I actually went a little further than it seems you do because I had a "classroom jobs" chart (we have a schoolroom in our home that definitely resembles a classroom...more so than your schooling area even). I also had "centers" and used labels from Lakeshore Learning to square off my centers for my "students." So, yes, I used to be very "school-at-home" myself and, as I said, I was proud of it. I would also take every opportunity to "educate" others on getting it together (like I "had it together").

    Then, I put in a few more years of homeschooling and began learning from veteran homeschoolers. People who really *were* veterans (10+ years) and not people embarking on this fairly-new journey alongside me. I began to hear and read so many "if I had the opportunity to do it over, here's what I would've done differently" stories from veterans. It took some time, but those stories really resonated with me...eventually. Especially since they were coming from people who'd blazed the path I was on and had already graduated at least 1-2 children. It was very interesting to hear what they realized at the *end* of the road and what they would've done differently. That was the catapult to changing my view of homeschooling--probably forever.

    I read your blog often (because I enjoy it). There seems to be an overall "theme" in your posts, which I'll keep to myself because there's no way I could say it that it wouldn't come across as insulting. At least, I think it'd sound insulting, so I'll leave it out. I will say, though, that it just seems that you miss out on so many opportunities and the very *essence* of homeschooling when treating your homeschooling that way.

    You (and I...and every other hs'ng mom) only have one shot at this thing we call "educating our children." While (to some people) that sounds intimidating, we also have a very, very unique opportunity to go outside the box with learning.

    I was reading a post of yours last night about summertime. I read the posts that were geared around summertime, and I just kept thinking that it was a shame that you felt that the type of hands-on, organic learning that was taking place needed to be limited to "summertime" instead of "all the time."

    There's something about your blog that draws me (obviously), and I think it's that you inspire me--even though I've been homeschooling twice as long as you. I think it's your super organized self that attracts me. You're very organized, determined, a planner, etc...and that really inspires me in some ways!

    I hope that my post doesn't come across as though I'm "attacking" you because I'm not (or at least, don't intend to). In my mind, I'm just sharing an observation; I'm not trying to attack you or your methods. I hope my "tone" comes across accurately. ♥

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    1. No offense taken. I value dialogue and opinions, even if they are different from my own.

      While I know going on my seventh year of homeschooling does not classify me as a veteran to many, as a second generation homeschooling family, I think my husband and I do have some "hindsight" that has helped us as we have chosen certain homeschooling paths. That being said, I think it is WONDERFUL that you choose a very organic path for your homeschool! Kuddos to you! But, I'd also say kuddos to the momma who chooses to go the textbook, all-in-one-box route too. Why? Because in its very nature, homeschooling affords individuality. As homeschool moms we shouldn't feel "shame" for those who choose a different path of education than ourselves, because then we are negating the very reason most people choose to homeschool...Because no one should have a "cookie cutter" learning experience. As I mentioned in my "Best Advice to the Newbie Homeschooler" post, my homeschool can't look like yours and your homeschool can't look like mine.

      It's interesting that you should mention the advice you received from 10+ year veterans. I too have heard similar comments. BUT, I also have heard just as many comments from veterans declaring that they wished they would have provided more structure and purpose to their homeschool. Because in the end, hindsight will always bring out the "coulda, shoulda, wouldas". As I have mentioned numerous times, there is no ONE WAY to homeschool. And if truth be told, you might be surprised to truly see how organic our day actually is. Please remember that you are only privy to the 14 x 14 inches of our day that I choose to share with the outside world.

      I have to laugh at times when I receive emails from moms who love the fact that I am an "unschooler" because I know I am not. But at the same time, I know I am not a school-at-home person either. I'm comfortable landing somewhere in the middle because that gives me the privilege of taking the good and leaving the bad of BOTH scenarios.

      I know that in choosing to live my life in the internet fishbowl so that I can minister to other moms who otherwise may not be privileged to have the support of other homeschool moms, I am accepting the responsibility of being criticized. But the great thing is, it sounds as if we both can agree to disagree with grace.

      Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to be candid. Like all homeschool moms, I know you are doing your very best to provide a wonderful learning experience for the kids that were hand picked to be yours. And I know I am too.

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    2. Jamie, one of the things I love most about homeschooling is that each family can do it in a way that works best for her own family. I'm thankful that we all don't homeschool the same way--whether that's more structured, less structured, or whatever else. We don't need to seek to homeschool in a way that isn't comfortable for us even though we see that another way works for another family. Obviously what you're doing works well for your family, so I say, "Keep up the good work!" If other moms choose to homeschool a different way, then I say that's great too! :) God made each of us unique because He needs us to be prepared for the things He wants each of us to accomplish in our lives. And, as someone who has homeschooled for 16 years, I've definitely seen a lot of different ways of homeschooling and have even been guilty of "trying out" some other families' ways because I thought I wasn't doing it "right." Hooray to each homeschooling family who is homeschooling the way that works best for her family regardless of what everyone else is doing. :)

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  5. Well, I do agree with some of the things from the previous poster. But, I will say that I'm highly inspired by you in a different sort of way: I'm inspired by your "stick to it"-ness. I have been homeschooling for 9 years now and I still find inspiration in your posts. Mainly because, I have an awful tendency to change things up on my children a number of times throughout the school year. In my defense, it's always because I'm trying to be a BETTER mom/homeschooler... but,yeah. =/ I think the main thing for me is that I work from home, which means whatever we do needs to sync with that. Therefore, I'm constantly trying new things/methods/programs that I THINK will help us have stability (in other words, something we can STICK with). Ironically, in all of this changing/trying new things--all in a quest to find something we can stick with--we've not stuck to *anything* we've tried. =(

    It was so much easier when I worked from home but didn't work during the day. Back then, I was not constantly trying to figure out something that will work for us.

    So, I'm very inspired by your ability to stick with whatever you choose, as well as your overall stability (doing your co-op for years, doing the same thing year after year with regard to curriculum, planning your year out, starting/stopping at definite, outlined times, and more). Gonna marinate a little more in your website and see what else I can glean.

    I definitely look forward to what you're going to share this week. I hope I can implement it...and STICK with it.

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    1. Tasha, it sounds like you are doing a great job because I can hear the earnest conviction to do the very best for your children in what you have written. Don't begrudge your flexibility! That's wonderful! And to be honest, I'm not quite as stick-to-it as I think you think I am. I have changed portions of my curriculum every year...and I don't regret it. Because what works for one season or for one child won't always work for the next.

      So glad you are "stickin'" with me for the week!

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  6. I love this post and idea!!! I have only found your blog recently, but a lot of what you write resonates with me!! I love to have a plan for our homeschool and wish I had done a full year plan for this year!
    Thanks for a great post and I look forward to the rest of the series!
    Blessings
    Renata:)

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    1. Welcome! Glad you found me. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

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  7. I can't help but think similarities to attending a wedding or a live performance that is fluid and looks effortless, but in reality there was a team of planners behind the scenes to create that tone. Its not that the plan/organizer fences one in but in a way it frees up time to go and do the learning. I am happy that homeschool provides flexibility to each find our own path. I also know well that if my path isn't well thought out, then it can be high-jacked by interruptions, chores or a late start etc. Been homeschooling for 7+ years and I can always learn something new. Thanks for the info.

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  8. Yes, yes, yes! I have spent lots of days this summer planning curriculum for the upcoming school year. I am sooooo glad I am not the only one! It so relieves stress for me once the school year starts.

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  9. This is the first year that I have scheduled the entire year. I decided to do so because we are expecting child number 4 (a complete surprise, but a great one) in about 7 weeks and I wanted to be able to spend that extra time with the family instead of scheduling. I didn't know how hard it would be, so I wanted it out of the way to concentrate on other things.

    Usually I do half the year at once, but decided that I would bite the bullet and schedule the year. I finished today. I also print my own planners (cause I tend to get picky on what goes inside mine) and will be printing and binding mine tomorrow. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

    Thanks for the great post and I am looking forward to what you have for the rest of the week.

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  10. I just found your blog tonight! Love it! This July will be my second attempt at home schooling. Oops, second year...the first was actually great...I loved it, and my kids learned a lot...but our days were a little bumpy with doc and therapy appointments. This year I will be having a helper...my children have different abilities in learning, so we did a lot of repeating what was taught the previous years. But we are on the upswing and excited about the upcoming year. Grandma will have their backs...helping with homework and such. God blessed me so much with my kids and my mom! Now, going to go explore the rest of your blog! Thank you!!

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    1. What a wonderful gift your mom will be giving you and your family all year long. That's so fun to hear. I wish you all the best for a great second attempt.

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  11. Great post! Thanks for the awesome insight!
    I am a military wife, homeschool mama to 2, one of which is autistic and I adore your blog:) I just grabbed your button and took it to my own blog at http://jubilantwife.blogspot.com/. I'd love for you to stop over for a visit! Thanks again for taking the time to put your posts together and give us all some great ideas! God bless!

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  12. Great post! I also use the Well Planned Day planner and find it to be very functional and helpful! I spend two hours on Monday mornings {when my kids are at Grandma's house} to prepare for the week. Planning one week at a time and preparing all my materials accordingly allows me to stay organized but still flexible based on what's going on in our family/community. I do a general year-long overview a few weeks before we start for the year so that I can plan general vacations/school breaks.

    Have you read the book "Homeschooling at the Speed of Life" by Marilyn Rockett? It's one of my favorite homeschooling books and I've noticed some similarities between you and her in terms of organization & scheduling. If you haven't read it, you might enjoy it because your styles are quite similar and she has a lot of wisdom to share in this regard.

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    1. No, I haven't read that one. I might have to see if my library has it. I loooove reading homeschool books. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  13. Hi Jamie! I left the following post on your facebook page but thought it might be good to duplicate it here :) Let me know what you think when you have a moment!!
    -------------
    Thank you so much for your blog. I feel so much more confident with your wisdom under my belt and the Lord rooting me on I have a question! I really love the task card system and plan to use it in our home school. I'm hoping this doesn't offend you at all, but I took the liberty (being a former graphic designer) of revamping the pictures used for the tags to be a bit more "Smith family-esque". I would love to be able to share it with you for anybody who would like to have a choice between several color/style options for the task card system. Would that be something I could email to you for use for whoever?? Let me know if that would be helpful! And if not! Totally cool! We'll just use it for our fam! Just wanted to offer it to you if you'd like it

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    1. I'm so glad you duplicated it here, because it never showed up on FB. Hmmm...not sure why.

      I'm so glad the task cards have been helpful and I would love to see a copy. Would you mind emailing them to me at theunlikelyhomeschool.com??

      The pictures on the original version are under copyright, so whether I will be able to share your version will depend upon how altered they are. If it falls within the grounds of the copyright agreement, I would love to add them as an additional option. Kuddos to you for making them fit your household!

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  14. I am doing this for the first time this summer. Even have hanging files and folders to pull it all together, so all I have to do in Monday is pull the folder fro each child.

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    1. Excellent! I did something similar when I taught in a traditional school. Worked great!

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  15. I laughed after I read your intro to this post bc you literally described me as well. I am looking forward to learning from you this week. This is our first year of homeschooling. My oldest is starting kindergarten.

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    1. Jennifer, this was a series I wrote last year, so the entire weeklong ideas are all ready and waiting for you to read. Just follow the links at the bottom of this post. Tomorrow, I'll be starting a brand new giveaway of the planners.

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  16. Hi Jamie!
    We are kindred spirits! I love, love, love what I have read on your blog so far…….I discovered you via Pinterest through a "homeschool organization" search. I have only just begun reading your blog, but I plan to add a link to your blog on my blog so I can read your updates regularly. I cannot believe how similar our homeschooling styles and planning methods are. :) I also have five children!
    Have a great day, and I am looking forward to gleaning from you.

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    1. Roan, why am I just seeing this today??? Not sure why this comment slipped past me. Sorry.

      Kindred spirits? Well, if you know that reference then we MUST BE kindred spirits! Love it!

      I'm gonna check out your blog. I love reading the goings ons of all my kindred spirits. Thanks for reading.

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  17. Thank you so much for this post. We should start the I have a plan and I'm sticking to it club, or the I'm in charge let me show you club!!! Only my card would be next to my club card- I'm in love with all things organizational club!! :) and the yep OCD club card!!!
    It's funny even though that's how I am I tend to try to wing HS and I am getting stretched too thin- that I need a better me plan!! I have an awesome them plan- accountability charts do all my children to follow for their independent studies, but I am lacking in our family studies area, preschool/kindergarten studies. Trying to wing it- and then just not doing it!!! Atleast the fun stuff!
    Thanks for putting so many of my thoughts in writting- now to hit my planning books!!

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  18. I love the verse you shared and your comments after it. I have read that verse so many times, but I've never thought about how it parallels my own planning.

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