How to Plan Your Homeschool Year: 2023-2024

Today I am going to be sharing with you how to plan your homeschool year. This post will be updated as I go through my planning process. Essentially I follow the same steps each year, but as my kids get older, and we have new experiences and opportunities, things shift just a bit.

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How to Plan your Homeschool Year: Part 1

So where do you start? The first place will be with lists and research. Typically, around February every year, you start to think about all the things you have been working on throughout the year, as well as what you hope to work on next year. Part of that is due to the time of year. February can often create a bit of a homeschool slump. You are far enough into your year to know what is going on, but you are probably starting to get a bit of spring fever and start dreaming of new resources.

I have been able to skip this February slump many years, but this year it totally hit me, and honestly it took me completely off guard. I pride myself on having strategies to work through this slump so it doesn’t affect me so. As I considered how I plan my homeschool year, and where I wanted to focus to share with you how to plan your homeschool year, I realized that my main strategy for beating the February slump is research of new resources and books.

New Resources and Ideas

It is usually around this time that you will start to see what resources others are considering. You can do this a number of places. My favorite is typically YouTube. Primarily because I am a visual person, and like to see the resources used in real time. It gives me ideas, and I start to take note of them.

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Now, typically I will have two places that I will take notes. First is in my Erin Condren Teacher Planner. This is essentially my brain when it comes to homeschool. I keep pretty much everything in this planner outside of the physical work that my kids do. All of my lesson planning, projects, etc. are included in this planner. It helps me keep track of things, have it all in one place, as well as have an excellent record to refer back to when I need to do my teacher review at the end of the year.

The other place that I write down ideas is the notes app in my phone. Oftentimes there will be a story or post on instagram where I will see something interesting, and will want to make a note of it. So, keeping a 2023-2024 Homeschool Planning note on my phone is extremely helpful. I tend to compile this information into my teacher planner when I have gone through the resources at a later time.

One exciting thing this year was that Erin Condren actually came out with a homeschool planner. And it is beautiful. It is undated, so if you are still looking for a planner for 2023-2024, I highly recommend this one! I am interested to see if they launch the homeschool planners with the teacher planners next year, if yes, I may end up trying that next year.

Homeschool Planning Part 2: Passion Projects & Shop your Shelves

This year we are having a large focus on passion projects in our homeschool. What that means is that I am helping to mentor my kids in their passions. We do this in a variety of ways, but the first place to start with passion projects is to commit to doing them. It is very easy to feel the pull towards curriculum. You have so many amazing resources and topics you want to cover with your kids, but you have to remember that their passions also come into the equation.

Now, if you are an unschooler, you may think that I sound like a crazy person, and that is totally OK! I have come to realize that I can have a good bit of interest-led learning in our days, but I also love to have our literature-based curriculum.

Years ago, when I started homeschooling, I found a curriculum company, Sonlight, that I really identified with, and we have stuck with them all these many years later. The years that I don’t buy a full curriculum from them, or we have some other things we need to cover for our particular state, those are the years that I feel more discombobulated and stressed. So, this is where shopping my shelves comes in.

I have purchased 14 levels from Sonlight, and that means I have a lot of resources at my fingertips, especially for my younger two kids. So I go through what I have, compare it to any new resources and books that I may have my eye on, and then go from there.

Reflecting on Last Year

If you are new to homeschooling, you don’t necessarily need to do this step. However, if your kids were in public school last year, and you have decided to homeschool, it may be helpful. Every year I sit down and consider last year. I want to really look at our year as a whole.

You can grab my free printable wrap-up questions by clicking here.

I use these reflection questions to really start to think about how I want to structure my year. What are the things that are most important to me and my kids in the coming year. It helps me to form my vision and focus for the year ahead, as well as create my yes and no list. These things are so important to keep me on track.

The act of writing this all down by hand cements it in my brain. Now, does that mean I follow everything exactly? Absolutely not, there are always adjustments, but it gives me a good framework overall. When I depart from these very particular lists and items, that is when my year begins to struggle.

How to plan your Homeschool Year: Curriculum

Is curriculum necessary to homeschool? No, it is not. However, as I mentioned above, I like to have some base curriculum. Ours is mostly always Sonlight, and I love them. You can find all of our curriculum choices for the 2023-2024 year below with walkthroughs of the resources we are using!

The Structure of your Homeschool Year

Now the time has come. It is time to figure out how you are going to structure your homeschool year. What type of schedule do you want? Do you want to have a lot of built in breaks, or go straight through? Are you doing 4 or 5 days per week? Will you take off a lot for the holidays?

All of these questions are an important part of how to plan your homeschool year, and it is different for every family. And honestly it can change year to year – it definitely has for us. We always consider ourselves year-round homeschoolers because we typically start in July. However, our breaks change year to year. Often, we decide to go straight through to Thanksgiving, with a few days off here and there. But, this year we implemented a 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule.

The purpose of this schedule is to first, give us all more planned breaks. But, the second reason is so that we can also have a focus on our passion projects.

Our Weekly Rhythm

With such a large focus on passion projects this year, I realized that I needed to dedicate time within the week, not just at the margins, where we can work on these passion projects. So we have a couple of theme days built into our weekly rhythm.

The first is a passion project focused Wednesday. This is a day where the kids are still doing “mom school,” but that mainly is math and english, with a bit of foreign language and science for my two high schoolers. When that is done, the remainder of the day is then dedicated to passion projects.

The second is our screen-free Friday. This is a day where, again, we have “mom school” to get through, but we are only using our analog resources. And then we again work on passions, but outside of our usual tech based ones. Honestly, this typically ends up being a reading day for us, and I absolutely love it!

It is hard to protect these days in our rhythm, especially as they are relatively new this year. But, I am learning! And so are the kids.

How does Planning your Homeschool Year Cultivate Simplicity?

The honest answer is that you have direction, and know where you are going. I spend an enormous amount of time prepping for a new homeschool year. I know people who are able to do it in a weekend, but unfortunately that is not me. It may be because we read so many books, or my understanding of weekly planning for our homeschool. But, all of the prep work helps me not have to think so hard as we go through our days.

Are there adjustments? Like I said earlier, absolutely. I take time every month to reassess and make sure what I am doing is working for everyone. But, this planning process helps me feel connected to my kids and the material we are using in our learning for the year.

The Bottom Line

When you consider how to plan your homeschool year, I hope that you will take some of these steps to heart. I do treat homeschooling as my job, and I want to make the best choices for the kids that I have. Take the time, look at the resources, don’t be afraid to change direction if you need to, and most importantly enjoy the journey!

Which part of homeschool planning and prepping is the most challenging for you? Do you have a system to make it work better for you? Please let me know in the comments!

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