Step 1: Yearly Planning
Look at the school year as a whole. Determine when you will begin school, when you will take breaks, go on vacation, how many days per week you will have school and whether you will school year round or follow the traditional schedule.
Many homeschoolers still follow the traditional public school schedule. One reason is that it is more likely their kids will find playmates during the breaks. They may want to align their breaks up with relatives who don’t homeschool. They may also have one or more children in public school the same time as having one or more children home schooled.
Other homeschoolers follow a year round approach. This allows them to stretch out their lessons, take more breaks, or have shorter terms but more of them. Another reason for year round homeschool is if you avoid the long break in the summer, there ends up being less review time at the beginning and you can cover more material each year as a result. A year round sample plan is pictured below. Notice the number of days at the bottom. The plan below is considered a year round plan because some education is planned in each month. This schedule allows for church camp and vacation bible school to be considered as “school” in regards to physical education and Bible class credit. Yellow represents regular school days. Pink represents planning and term breaks. The pink days also allow students the opportunity to “catch up” with the scheduled lessons if necessary. Blue represents summer school activities. For the sake of reporting attendance only the yellow is counted.
Step 2: Lesson Planning
Once you have decided when to have school, you can assign your lesson plans to each day or week. The beauty of most homeschool curriculum is that it has pre-scheduled lesson plans that either come with it or can be purchased separately. Many curricula are broken down by default into approximately 130 lessons with 10 or so tests scheduled after certain lessons. This makes it very easy to simply go down the list and say day 1 = lesson 1, day 2 = lesson 2, and so on. This is one of the things you will want to learn during your curriculum research. If these are not available, then you also have the added step of sorting the material into lesson plans.
Keep in mind you also have the freedom to combine pre-designed lesson plans. You might say day 1 = lesson 1 & lesson 2, for example. Just because they are designed for you, does not mean you have to use them. It does however, take some of the work load off of your shoulders as an educator.
A typical lesson plan worksheet lists the day(s) of the week and subjects in a table with one across the top header row and one on the left column. Below is an example of a lesson plan page.
Step 3: Daily Schedule
This step is more of developing your daily routine. What time will you begin class each day? How long will you spend on each subject? When will you break for lunch? Developing a routine and sticking to it teaches your students what to expect and helps them develop focus, goal setting, and teaches them to understand planning. A sample daily routine is posted below. This one is more of a planner page, but you can easily use it to adjust your schedule as needed.
Step 4: Day Out Plans
Last but not least you will want to have a backup plan for those days when everything happens except school. Doctors appointments that take all day, quick errands that leave you stuck in traffic. It is always a good idea to have a plan of what you can do in the car, in a waiting room, or at grandma’s. You could have a “go” bag packed with flashcards, math fact practice worksheets, library books, it doesn’t necessarily have to be their actual schoolwork for the day. If you have a multi-grade history or science curriculum check to see if it has an audio cd. That day’s lesson can then be played in the car on your way to wherever you are going. Another option is to check out audio books from the library and keep them in the car. Play them as you go!