It used to take me a few hours a week to plan just for the next week. I’ve trimmed it down to about an hour or so. I do my planning on Wednesday nights. I started this because my husband used to be gone until 10:00 pm or so on those days, so Wednesday afternoons became field trip afternoons (because I didn’t have to be home and have dinner ready at any certain time) and then after the kids were in bed I had the whole house to myself (and laptop to myself!) to do my planning.
This is what my schedule looks like. Its a piece of paper with a grid and some chicken scratch on it.
For me, this works really well. I draw up my lines and gather up all my books and as I pick up a book I write down the week’s lessons for that subject. For instance, with Saxon Math we obviously just move from one lesson to the next. I review quickly the lesson, check to see if there are any supplies I need to buy (usually not) or any supplies we are going to use that week to be aware of (like piles of cheerios or dried beans or something) and then just jot down what lesson we are on and any special one or two word note or reminder, if even necessary. Grammar, spelling, handwriting, Latin, all the same thing. There isn’t a whole lot of prep work to do there. The wonderful thing about a lot of these book (the math, Latin, and science at least) is that they have suggested schedules printed in the books for you anyway. I pretty much just follow those when they are provided.
Science and history are just a little different in that I often do need to pick up something for science, like toothpicks or gumdrops (we just made a bunch of molecules out of those last week) or specific books I need to get at the library for the history topic. The only really tricky part is when we have long history units. But even then, once I have figured out what I want to do (usually looking at other people’s blogs, looking at the books at the library, or coming up with something totally brilliant on my own (seldom, but yes, sometimes it happens). I try to break it all down into 30 or 45 minute chunks covering a specific subtopic and go with that.
That is another reason I do the planning on Wednesday. If I do need to run to the store, I have through Saturday to do it. (I’m a Sabbath keeper, :). )
Everybody likes to say that homeschoolers are really flexible because since they don’t have to be at school at a certain time or take tests at a certain time they can just do whatever they want whenever they want. And that is true, unless you live in a state that makes you jump through a bunch of hoops (I’m sure they mean well). But I don’t like to be flexible just because someone else says I’m flexible (translated as irrationally stubborn). For instance, when someone makes a comment like, “Well, you homeschool so you are home all day and can just do whatever you want. You have so much time, so can you watch my kids on such and such a day?” Yes, I can probably rework my schedule and watch your kids, but just know, you are messing up my schedule and I’m not home all day. I also get, “well, since you homeschool you can just skip school on such and such a day and come up for x y or z.” Yes, technically I can. But if I do that I will have to rework my entire schedule.
I take my children’s education seriously. I would say the vast majority, if not every single homeschooling parent out there, takes their children’s education seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they are not willing to outsource it anymore to institutions they cannot control or monitor (and unfortunately do not have a voice in at all these days.) So I try to stick with the schedule. I do make adjustments here and there, for instance my MIL really wants the kids to come up sledding sometime and “since I homeschool” I can drop everything and take a day off and drive up into the mountains. So we’re going. I’m calling in P.E.
If you find yourself getting annoyed with people telling you how much time you have on your hands and how you can do everything you want, just know you are not alone. And later we can repent of it together. If you are more flexible and not as protective of your schedule, your kids are probably happier. (But mine might get done with the school year earlier and have a longer summer!)