It all feels so official sometimes: I’m homeschooling three children.
Surely I need a teacher’s lesson planning book, the kind I used to see in the classroom, right? They look so professional, after all.
Yet the longer I’m at this gig, the less I seem to plan and the more our days seem to flow. Maybe it’s because our daily rhythm has evolved until it’s simply a part of us, and we don’t have to think about the basics anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve loosened up a little (Okay, a lot!).
But whatever the reason, this is how I plan our days now. Perhaps some of the principles will nudge you in the right direction as well if you’re in need of a bit more flow to your daily routine.
1. I understand what season I’m in.
I structured my life more when I had a five-, four-, and three-year-old than I do now.
That’s because our lives then were also chaotic, and for my own sanity I needed to feel some semblance of order–to know that my days counted and weren’t just being whisked away in a blur of toddler and preschool energy.
Understanding your season of life is key to deciding what kind of planning will work for you–and it’s also important to recognize that this will change over time.
When I made my first daily schedule as a mom several years ago, I modeled it after the rhythm of a mother of teens and older kids. This, of course, didn’t take into account the uniquenesses of my situation with little people–and in a way it set me up for failure.
We simply can’t compare our situation and needs with anyone else.
2. I understand my personality.
Some of us need and crave more structure, others less. Depending on whether we are introverts or extroverts, what we plan into our days will differ widely.
As an introvert, I make sure to plan in a regular quiet time–this used to be my kids’ rest time, but now that I have a ten-year-old and two nine-year-olds we call it “afternoon study time.” They work on whatever they’d like to in their rooms, and I can do the same.
My season of life forced me to have a detailed schedule when the kids were younger, and that worked then.
But I’ve been surprised to realize, as they’ve gotten older, that my personality craves more freedom and less boundaries into our schedule. Recognizing this has allowed me to adapt instead of trying to keep doing what I had done before.
3. I only plan what is essential and regular.
Take a look at your core priorities, the non-negotiables that you know must be a part of your homeschool days. Schedule and plan for these, but don’t feel the need to plan every little detail of your life.
Some of our current core priorities are family read-alouds, Bible time, my own writing and reading time, outside play for the kids, and time to prepare healthy, nourishing food.
These are our building blocks, so to speak, and they are rarely skipped. I center our days around these activities.
4. I tie the essential and regular to foundational times in our days.
Several times a day we gather around our dining table to eat, so it only makes sense that many of our essentials take place around mealtimes too.
I read to the kids while they eat, we read the Bible at snack time and after dinner, and my afternoon writing time comes right after lunch (while the kids play outside).
By planning these priorities around meals and other key times (like morning wake up), it leaves plenty of other hours open in between (They don’t stay open, mind you, but they start out that way).
As I respond to the unique needs of each day, we fill those open hours with learning, baking, cleaning, field trips, and whatever duties or nudges I feel we need to follow.
For me it’s the perfect balance between structure and spontaneity, and that’s why I love planning our days this way.
If you could use some planning help, here are a few resources you might be interested in:
A Simple Homeschool Planner
Tsh’s planner contains weekly, daily, and monthly routines and calendars in a variety of formats so you can choose which works best for you. It also has templates for student goals, curriculum, books read, and transcripts.
I love her section of extras, which features lots of inspiring educational quotes as well as maps and more.
My book talks about organization according to the principles I mentioned above, figuring out your strengths and how to apply your time accordingly–so you can be an intentional, professional mother.
I hope it’s a blessing to you!
Weekly Homeschool Planner
Jolanthe’s planner is unique in that is is an editable PDF, meaning you can type directly into it and then print out your personal plan!
What method have you found works for you to plan your days? Do you tend to veer toward more structure or more flexibility?