Homeschool Planning: 4 Tools for Creating a Flexible, Focused Homeschool

Crafting a homeschool year can be a daunting task.  The curriculum catalogs trickle in like a monsoon, enticing us with the new and improved that we hope will solve all of our homeschool struggles.  If we just buy a different phonics program, our struggling reader will magically read.  If we plunk down a bucket of cash, the new math program will stop the math tears.  This may be true.  But often it's not. 

That's why creating a homeschool vision and looking deeply at the children in front of you is key to a realistic and productive plan.  Without taking the time to consider the learning styles of your children, the realities of your homeschool, and the priorities you hold, you are likely to find yourself in a cycle of frustration and impulse buying which will only lead to more frustration and wasted time and money. 

It's taken me ten years to recognize this cycle and find the tools I need to step out of it.  Along the way, though, I've learned a lot about what our family's needs and how to meet them.  The most important factor is flexibility.  With six kids ranging from pre-school to 9th grade, I definitely need a plan, to lay my intentions out on paper so that the details don't get swept away with the tide.  But these plans need to be flexible enough to allow for the ever-changing individuals in our home.  Here I am sharing 4 of my favorite homeschool planning tools that have helped shape our flexible plan for the upcoming year. Well, let's make that 5.  Homeschool planning is not complete without a steady supply of chocolate ;-)

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The Homeschool Alliance

Homeschool Alliance

The Homeschool Alliance is hosted by Julie Bogart of Brave Writer.  Inside you'll find a wealth of wisdom and support that is like no other.  It's a safe place to ask your questions, share your fears and celebrate the joys of homeschooling.  I recently meandered through the archives and uncovered the gem of Planning Month (July 2016).  With a new stage of homeschooling ahead of me, it was exactly what I needed.  The webinar replay, readings, and community conversations were alive and relevant to me now as I plan for a high-schooler, a struggling reader, and everything in between.  Working through Planning Month left me with a sense of calm as I moved forward to planning the nitty-gritty of our homeschool.  It helped me look at the big picture and the individuals in front of me.  The best news is that The Homeschool Alliance will be hosting another planning month starting in just over a week!  Even if you join just for July, it will be well worth your time!

Plan Your Year Planning Kit

Plan Your Year Homeschool

Pam Barnhill's Plan Your Year Planning Kit was the perfect complement to the work I did in The Homeschool Alliance.  It helped me continue to focus in on our homeschool vision and goals.  From there, I was able to identify what books and resources would best fit my unique family of learners.  I love the practicality of Pam's kit.  It includes:

  • 79-Page Planning Guide
  • Over 40 editable planning forms
  • Audio workshops with Sarah Mackenzie and Mystie Winckler
  • Free lifetime updates and bonuses
  • Free Facebook community

And as a free bonus, Pam is including a student planner and audio workshop! (This offer ends July 2, 2017)  I love everything about this kit!  I can type right into the forms and print them out or print them and then write.  The Facebook community keeps me motivated and encouraged when I'm in the trenches of planning.  The planning guide walks me through the steps I need to craft a productive, flexible year.  And best of all, whenever Pam adds or updates new pages, they're available to all those who have purchased the kit. Forever! 

You can download a free sample right now.  I think you'll love what you find!

Your Morning Basket Guide

Morning Basket.png

We love our daily basket over here.  That basket of goodies that we dig into each day, usually in the morning but not always.  It's full of exciting read-alouds, beautiful art prints, poetry, music and whatever else we are obsessed with at the time.  The problem I run into, though, is not remembering what I wanted to do over the course of the week, month or year.  This left me frustrated, feeling as though I hadn't made the most of this special morning time.  Then I found Pam's Your Morning Basket Guide.  In it, I found all the pages I need to personalize our daily basket and enrich our homeschool days. 

If you're new to the idea of the morning basket or just need some inspiration to breath some life back into yours, you'll love all the other resources that comes with Your Morning Basket Guide.  From the video tour of Pam's morning basket notebook, to the Facebook community, to the Morning time snapshots and e-book guide, there is a wealth of inspiration and practical tips for starting or enlivening your morning time.  Even after years of morning time, I found myself learning something new and nodding in agreement with Pam's advice.  I think you'll love it.

The ProClick Binding Machine

ProClick Binding Homemade Planner

With all these amazing forms printed and ready to go, I was looking for a way to keep them organized without having to carry a clunky binder.  But I still needed a system that was flexible and able to add and delete pages as necessary.  Thankfully a friend recommended the ProClick Binding Machine.  With it and the ProClick spines, I'm able to use Pam's planning and morning basket pages to create my own planner.  This video gives a quick demo of how the ProClick Binding Machine works. 

I love it!  I print what I need, as I need it, and pop the pages into the spine.  I'm notorious for tucking papers into random "safe" places assuming I will remember where I put them.  Nope. Never happens. Instead, I wander around rummaging through stacks looking for that one paper.  So it may not be too bold to say that the ProClick is going to save my life.  

So there you have my four favorite planning tools (so far) this year!  What are you loving right now?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!  Happy Planning!