How I Plan Our Homeschool Week
Homeschool, Homeschool Planning

How I Plan Our Homeschool Week

When I was in college, I became addicted to planners. I was obsessed with planning out my entire year before the semester even began. There were color gel pens–a different color for each class–and stickers for dentist appointment, exams, and opening nights. The planner always had a leather cover and a beautiful clasp. I spent hours pouring over it as soon as I knew my fall schedule, and come that first day of class, it was absolute perfection.

When I started homeschooling, I tried to apply this same aesthetic to my homeschool planning. I bought eight (yes, eight) different planners in my first six months, trying to make them work. By this time, I had discovered Plum Paper Designs, and while I have yet to find another planner I loved as much as theirs for my work, it didn’t work for homeschool. I tried teacher’s planners. I tried Erin Condren. I tried bullet journaling–the closest I came to satisfaction–but still it fell short. Finally, after nearly twelve months of homeschooling, it dawned on me.

Planners do not work for my style of homeschooling.

In every other aspect of my life, I am (for lack of a kinder description) a control freak. I run a fairly complicated business from home that requires incredible organization, planning, and months-ahead foresight. I set goals. I break them down, month by month and week by week. I feel uncomfortable about crossing things out, and I hate writing with pencils. But when it comes to homeschool, these rules do not apply, because learning is a living, breathing, shifting entity with a mind of its own and I have no desire to harness it.

Planners did not work because our days together have their own ideas about what’s going to transpire. I might wake up with the intention of doing a particular science project, or a certain reading lesson, but my oldest discovers a snail on the trail during our morning walk and suddenly lights up with questions. What do snails eat? What happens to them in winter? What does it look like inside its shell? I cannot, and truthfully will not, snuff that flame to correct course and get on with the planned lesson of that day when she is primed to learn by the purest form of education there is–curiosity. Nothing I had planned will compete with the power of her curiosity, and the things she will learn that day if we follow that trail. Besides, those things I’d planned will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and we can always pick them back up then.

“…learning is a living, breathing, shifting entity with a mind of its own and I have no desire to harness it.”

That’s why I changed my thinking about planning out each homeschool week. I no longer write “Tuesday–science then reading lesson 2, and wrapping up with math activity 8.” I got tired of scratching it out (which is like nails on a chalkboard to me) whenever my kids got inspired to find out what makes rocks red or learn about plate tectonics after driving through a cut-away into Morrison.

So, here is my (completely un-pinterest-worthy) way of planning our homeschool week:

  1. In a basic, boring, 53 cent composition notebook from Walmart, I draw a line down the center of the page, ending about halfway down the page.
  2. On one side, I write my youngest daughter’s name. On the other side, I write my oldest daughter’s name. In that bottom section, I write “together.”
  3. I list out the things I hope to accomplish that week, with the highest priority items at the top. For a little flair of fancy, I draw a bubble so I can make a little check-mark with a sigh of satisfaction when we get something done.
  4. During the week, I make sure we make some sense of progress through our list. I don’t stress if things aren’t finished, I just move them to next week’s list when I make it. Whenever some spark of inspiration hits, I write what we did at the bottom of the page, so I can document our adventures in learning together.

How I Plan Our Homeschool Week

That’s it. A list scrawled onto basic lined paper in a notebook. It’s not pretty, it’s done on Sunday night before each new week begins, and it makes creating a beautiful pin for this post really hard. But it works. It works for us. I’ve never been so satisfied in my life with a planning system. I still drool over bullet journal posts on Instagram, and I still rely on my Plum Paper planner to run my business, but when it comes to homeschool, simplicity is the name of the game.

What is your system for planning the week ahead? Please feel free to share in the comments! 🙂

How I Plan Our Homeschool Week

Curious about our homeschool curriculum for the year? You can read about them here:

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2017-2018: Kindergarten

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2017-2018: Pre-K

How We Will be Incorporating the Brave Writer Lifestyle in 2017-2018

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  • Reply Ashley Hoffenberg September 14, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    I really needed to read this right now. I am going to implement this planning style ASAP. I’m so over the detailed planning that never comes to fruition! Learning is a living, breathing entity and it definitely needs wiggle room!

    • Reply Kristina Garner September 15, 2017 at 12:39 am

      Awesome. Yes, exactly. I would spend SO much time working on the plans and get so frustrated when we didn’t finish all the things I planned on that specific day. In list format, I don’t even mind if there’s a couple of things left undone at the end of the week. I just move them to the next list. 🙂 Glad you found it helpful!

  • Reply Crystal October 14, 2017 at 2:15 am

    This is really similar to what I’m doing this year! I found a planner that breaks each day (on a week spread-out) into 3 rows) so I’ve been putting little priorities in the top row each day, scheduled activities, dr appts, bdays, in the middle column and I’m TRYING to remember to jot down notes of our adventures at the end of each day, kind of like a journal!

    It’s a pretty planner, but I really like your week-at-time idea— I may try to implement that more than put a “task” on each day of the week!

    Here’s the journal I got:

    • Reply Kristina Garner December 31, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      That’s awesome! Yes, I’ve seen those Happy Planners! I love them because of their ability to be a journal as well. I actually would love to get one for my daughter when she’s a little bit older to use as a journal / assignment tracker. Somewhere to track gratitude, goals, highlights of her learning week, that kind of thing. I know you can print out little photos to put in the squares, too. How great would that be to have her add photos of her homeschool experiments and projects throughout the year?

  • Reply Heather S October 28, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for speaking up about your planning ways. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube about homeschooling planning and planning systems, all very beautiful, but the day I realized that the problem I was having wasn’t the planner or the system but the planning itself – that was a glorious day.
    I struggled, bought endless amounts of fancy planners and supplies, and then felt like a real failure daily because I just couldn’t get it together. It was working because it doesn’t work for us.
    I try not to think about how many composition notebooks I could buy with all the money I spent on fancy planning supplies… yikes!

    • Reply Kristina Garner December 31, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      You’re very welcome. I also shudder to think how much I’ve spent on planners just to discover this 99 cent notebook works so much better for us 🙂

  • Reply Tammy November 29, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    My life for the past year+ has been even more chaotic than usual. All my plans that I wrote out trying to achieve a certain level of accomplishment has gone out the window. It’s hard to even tell what we’ve accomplished. I appreciate this approach so much. Truthfully, I do this in some manner, but then only to write it in the “pretty planner,” and not get it all done. I need to just work on doing this for my own sanity and time savings. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Reply Kristina Garner December 31, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Tammy, I totally understand. With moving four times in less than two years, I definitely know how disappointing it can be when chaos throws our plans out of whack. As Julie from Brave Writer says, “there are no homeschool emergencies.” I’m trying to embrace that in my approach. Learning is life-long, and every child (and every family) is different. It’s more important that our children develop a love of learning that will last a lifetime than it is to get through a massive checklist of academic accomplishments, only to burn ourselves out and make learning a chore for them.

  • Reply ~Lee~ March 21, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    This year I’m doing the individual “spiral notebooks” a la Read-aloud Revival. But I like that you’ve got a whole week in one place. Simple can be better!

    • Reply Kristina Garner March 22, 2018 at 12:58 am

      If it’s not simple, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen (in my homeschool.) 🙂

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  • Reply Mimi Al August 6, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    “when it comes to homeschool, simplicity is the name of the game”
    Love it!
    We follow pretty much the same principles as you. Its great to know we are not the only ones.
    Thank you for your posts! I enjoy reading them and appreciate how well written they are.

  • Reply Kara August 19, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    This has been my method for a few years. I always look at other planners, but this method serves me best. I needed that reminder today!

  • Reply Julia October 19, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    I’m finding this post 2 years after its been written and I wish I would have found it 5 years ago when I started homeschooling. I have tried it all – the complicated, the simple and so far none of those planning methods have worked for me. I’ve done similar layouts, but this one gets all the things in I need. Thank you so much for this post. It may not be pretty, but its spectacularly simple and thorough

    • Reply Kristina Garner October 27, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      You’re welcome. I’m so glad it was helpful! 🙂

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