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Make Life do the Educating: Homeschool Planning

It’s summer, and all the talk turns to planning for the next “school year,” but allow me to offer a different perspective on the homeschool planning rush.

I don’t do “school years,” but with the increase in our outside activities, it seems we have to follow that cycle a little more than before.

Homeschool moms also tend to become antsy at the prospect of a new school year and go into planning overload.  I think it’s so we can forget about the things we didn’t quite finish and look with optimism towards the shiny, new thing we think will be perfect.

After 11 or so years of homeschooling, I’ve accepted that a plan can be a hindrance and a constant source of anxiety. Instead, I suggest we throw out the plan and stop worrying about those 180 days.

Make Life do the Educating

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Do the Next Thing

That’s the only plan you need.

So you didn’t do math one day because you visited a museum, great! When you get back to math, just do the next thing (if you feel like it).

You didn’t read the science read aloud because the kids were wrapped up in their latest Tinker Crate or Groovy Lab Box.

It can be read another day.

History is simply the story of the world, and it’s people, just keep moving along that timeline.

How can your child be “behind”?

Why can this be so difficult? We’ve been conditioned to view learning as an activity that is to be divided up into to age-segregated grades with 180 equal doses of information.

However, is that really how life operates? I’ve had an equivalent of 19 years of schooling, if I went back to school would I be in 20th grade?

Would I learn what is expected of a 20th grader?

Would I be “behind”?

Homeschool Strewing

So do I not plan at all?

No, not in a 15-minute increment, post-it note kind of way, nor a day 1, day 2, etc. manner. I plan in a big picture way.

Where are we in history?

What books should we read aloud this year?

Are there any interesting exhibits at museums we need to catch?

What new things can I bring into the house that the kids would find interesting?

But what about math?!

Math is where doing the next thing shines. About a year ago I started combining Learn Math Fast along with the Math Mammoth Blues Series, and it’s going great.

No graded levels, no pressure to finish a given grades book, just forward momentum while focusing on understanding.

Make Your Life do the Educating

I took one piece of advice from cleaning guru Don Aslett to heart, and that is to let your house do the cleaning. What he was saying was to make the decision that will alleviate clutter and messes.

Since then I’ve never chosen a gas stove again! Keeping it clean is too much work and time. Instead, I have a solid glass surface cooktop that can be quickly wiped down.

Home education doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t require graded readers, book reports, nor daily checklists to be completed.

Make your life do the educating!

Instead of worrying about staying on “grade-level,” find a documentary at your library.

Why plan a year around workbook pages when you can plan it around museum exhibits and community events?

It all goes back to Charlotte Mason and creating an atmosphere.

Relax and Take a Deep Breath

The upcoming nine months don’t require an intricately planned excel spreadsheet. You don’t have to know what you’ll be doing next January. Maybe take it a month at a time?

Why not question the necessity of a school schedule in your life?

Homeschool strewing


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  1. Yes! Less is definitely more. I’ve homeschooled for over 17 years now and have tried every planning and recordkeeping approach there is – overplanning and planning too far in advance definitely caused more stress in the long run than it alleviated. Life does not go according to plan – not OUR plan anyway.

    It seems like everyday I see a post about scheduling (OK, myself included on my own website). But, this is an important topic because we end up sabotaging our own homeschools and burning ourselves out. Only God knows what we need to experience and encounter in life, so we must seek Him FIRST. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on the subject.

  2. Thank you very much for this post. I am starting the homeschool journey with my 5.5- and 3-year-old boys. It sounds like our philosophies are similar. I get anxious, sometimes, because I hear some other families in our lovely co-op talk about all the math games and writing practice they are doing and concepts they’ve already covered. I almost hyperventilate a little bit that I’m not doing “enough”. To be fair to myself, we go to a terrific science museum frequently, attend local concerts, are learning a second language together, read and do activities about whatever peaks their interest, and just play a lot. I’m figuring that if I just help them pursue their interests (volcanoes, maps, the human body, etc) that all the “basic” skills (penmanship, counting by 5, etc) will fill in naturally. Thank you, thank you, for your reassuring voice.

    1. Sounds like you are doing a great job, five and three are really little kids! Now that I have teenagers, my 8 year old seems like a baby.

  3. Julie Crowther says:

    Oh my gosh…. so well said. I have homeschooled for 6 years and last year I had a major meltdown. My two oldest girls are close in age and I discovered that it was fine to let my eldest relax in math a bit and my second was totally capable of keeping up with her. Solution, let them learn math together. As a bonus, my kindergarten was learning things way beyond her level…..but….. we have a support teacher who was shocked that my daughter hadn’t done “both books of the curriculum”. I was devastated as was she as she worked her tail off getting only one book done! So….this year, I’m sticking to my guns and taking the pressure off… We have to meet gov’t standards where I live, so its a bit of a challenge, but I’m not going to let it rule us… These articles are so refreshing and I’m slowly leaning towards unschooling more and more…

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