The absolute first step in planning your next school year is big picture planning. What is big picture planning? It’s simply taking a look at the whole year and seeing when you’ll absolutely need time off of school, when you’d like to schedule breaks, and other things of that nature.
In Day 1 of this series, I’m going to break it down and show you exactly how to start planning for your new school year starting with big picture planning.
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To start with, you’re going to need a few things:
- your personal family calendar
- a new calendar that covers the months you’ll be homeschooling
- pens or pencils
Work around your family life
Once you’ve got your things together, go through your family planner and see what dates you’ll need to take note of on your homeschool planner.
For example, some events you might want to include are:
- birthdays (in my home, we take off any birthdays that fall during the school week)
- anniversaries (planning a special trip?)
- annual trips like family reunions, spring break, or other vacations
- are you planning to have family over from out of town?
- how long of breaks do you want to take with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break . . . (we only take that Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving break and the week before Christmas through the first of the new year. There was a time when we took the entire month of December off, and that’s totally fine, too! Do what works for your family.)
- is there a baby due this school year? You’ll definitely want to take time off for that! (Each time I had one born during the school year, we always planned on taking 8 weeks off. Sometimes we needed that long, sometimes we didn’t, but by working in that extra margin, I didn’t feel pressured to hurry up and get back on the horse.)
Anything you’ll want/need time off for, go ahead and block those dates out. Or do like I do and just draw a line through that particular week or day. It will depend on your planner and your own style, but no worries, there are no wrong ways of doing it!
Pick your annual school schedule
Once you’ve got your musts blocked off, it’s time to figure out what school schedule you’d like to follow. Remember – your family is unique – and you need a plan that suits YOU. A great homeschooling schedule is only great if it works FOR you – not against you.
There are several ways to do it. Some families I know follow the public school schedule, which is easy enough to find, just look at a local school calendar online. Some families use the calendar year (starting in January and going through September) instead of using the traditional school months that overlap the years.
But most families I know do six weeks on, one week off. That’s what we do. So, in my planner, I go through and work out when we should take breaks. Sometimes the breaks come right at the six-week mark, but other times not. For example, our Thanksgiving break comes after seven weeks of school. We also tend to go a longer stretch after the big break at Christmas.
It will just depend on you and YOUR family. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me with the form at the bottom of this page.
In Day 2 we’ll get working on figuring out a weekly schedule, but for now, grab your calendars and get started big picture planning!
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