Planning Homeschool: How to Begin

That first year of homeschooling (and every year after) can be terrifying. There are numerous decisions to make and information seems to be pouring in from every source. It’s overwhelming to say the least. We are here to help! Let us guide you as you begin planning homeschool ideas for your family.

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Learning Styles

The first step of homeschooling your student is to find out which learning methods work best for them. Sometimes this can be as easy as following their interests. Would your child rather read about how a tower is built or would the choose to build that tower out of materials around the house? Do they love watching videos about numbers or are they more content solving math problems online? There are four main learning styles and while there may be a dominant style that is obvious, it is always a good practice to help a child reach their full potential by embracing them all in some way. Helping them discover how to learn in the beginning means higher success rates in their future. The four learning styles are:

  • Auditory –listening to someone speak on the subject
  • Kinesthetic – participating in a hands-on activity
  • Reading/Writing –reading about the subject or taking notes
  • Visual – watching someone else perform a task

Click here to see more about our family’s learning styles!

Spelling Can Be Easy When It's Multisensory

Homeschool Approaches

Once you know how your student(s) learn best, you can begin planning homeschool days and what you envision them looking like for your family. There are a vast number of homeschooling methods and a fabulous perk to homeschooling is being able to model your days around just one approach or by combining several. Some of the most well-known approaches are:

  • The Charlotte Mason Method – Based on Charlotte Mason’s idea that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. Children learn from their home environments, the good-habits they form, and living thoughts and ideas instead of being fed dry facts.
  • The Classical Method – Made up of three stages (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) where children first absorb facts then begin to think through arguments and finally begin to express themselves.
  • The Eclectic Approach – This refers to pulling from many styles and possibly a variety of curriculums. This can be a useful method, especially when dealing with several grade levels of children who learn through different styles.
  • Montessori – Allowing children to teach themselves through discovery in a prepared and/or controlled environment.
  • Unit Studies – This approach allows families to focus on one topic at a time while incorporating many subjects into one lesson plan.
  • Unschooling – This can mean many different things depending on who you ask but the general consensus is that the child leads the direction of the learning and also the materials covered with no planning or teaching done by the parent.

Curriculum Types

One of the most exciting components while planning homeschool is going to be choosing the curriculum. At first, all of the choices will seem daunting but now you know how your children learn and what you want your day to look like. This makes choosing a type of curriculum a bit simpler! The types to choose from are:

  • Workbooks – This is the more traditional approach to schooling where the work is in a book and the teacher leads using a teacher’s guide. Examples would be All About Learning Press, BJU Press, and Apologia.
  • Online – Online only studies are quickly becoming popular with Time4Learning being the one I hear about most often from other traveling families.
  • DVDs – DVD based curriculums utilize DVDs for the learning and either activities or workbooks for the student work. A Beka offers this as a lease program sending you each set as you send back the DVDs from the previous semester or quarter.
  • Eclectic – These curriculums use a variety of approaches and allow the parent to mix-and-match the studies. BJU and A Beka are both great at this while Easy Peasy is a well-known online curriculum that can be used with others for a fuller eclectic approach.
  • Supplemental – Sometimes you just need a little assistance to really drive home an idea. Programs such as ABC Mouse and books such as Life of Fred are both wonderful for breaking up the monotony of the average day while keeping your student on track. {Check out our review of Life of Fred’s Early Readers!} Online educational marketplaces such as Educents are a valuable resource when searching for supplemental materials. Oftentimes, these marketplaces even have free downloadable content perfect for holidays!

Begin Planning!

All of that thinking and debating and scheming has led up to the glorious moment when you actually get to PLAN your homeschool year. Yay!

  1. Pick a start date, an end date, and write down any deadlines if you have to report attendance or grades. Also, remember to mark the dates you need to submit any materials if using an accredited academy. Erin Condren Planner
  2. Block off any known vacations. This one can be a bit harder for families who travel full-time but if you know your family goes on a beach trip every October or if you have a big vacation planned, put it on the calendar. We go see family for two weeks every Christmas so this is one of the first things I schedule.
  3. Add in any known field trips or homeschool group meetings. We go pick blueberries annually in July but I am never sure when or where so instead I make a notation in the side of my monthly calendar.
  4. Fill in the holidays you want to try to celebrate during the year. Examples of this can be National Aviation Week or important dates such as Memorial Day. Make sure to include some that are just for fun such as National Ice Cream Day!
  5. Add your curriculum plans to your planner. This will vary greatly based on which type of schooling you have chosen. You may decide to fill this in monthly, plan your testing dates and wing the rest of the year, or set up your goals each week. The freedoms are your and just another joy of planning homeschool!

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