Q&A Friday: When do you start planning for the upcoming school year?

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Can it really be time to begin thinking about the next school year?


Has the arrival of spring brought to mind decisions about curriculum and upcoming purchases? Or are you putting those thoughts on hold while you enjoy the (hopefully) arrival of warmer weather?

We school year-round, so I usually end up thinking about curriculum and resources whenever I find that I need something. With that said, one of the resources we use follows the seasons closely, and is designed to coincide with the traditional school calendar.

Some homeschooling parents love making these decisions and have their plans lined up months in advance; others put it off until the end of August or later.

What about you? Where do you fall on the spectrum? When do you like to get started and what helps you make your choices?

And just so you know–we have an awesome series coming up soon that’s designed to help!

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. We’re very new to homeschooling, as our oldest is only 4 1/2. We’ve already started doing some Kindergarten work, but I’ve been doing a lot of planning and figuring and budgeting for her “official” Kindergarten year that will start in the fall!
    jeni’s latest post: In Which I Dream Of Renovating

  2. I never stop thinking about what we’ll do next year.. but I officially start planning in early spring. It takes me a few months because I do like to get as much as I can used, and starting early helps. I already have our course of study loosely planned for next year.

    Actual lesson plans, I usually start in May or so. I love this part of homeschooling, the planning and researching and shopping!
    Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: Our Homeschool Room

  3. I’m away at a homeschool convention this weekend. I’ve already bought Math U See for next year. I’m really excited to see all of the vendors!
    Jenny’s latest post: Family Room Built-Ins &amp Easter Decor

  4. since this is my first year of homeschooling, i don’t know what i do, yet! looking forward to the new series and seeing how other people do it 🙂
    andie’s latest post: about the hiatus in posts

  5. I tend to think about curriculum sometime before Sept and and again before January. Those are the months I start new things. Spring however is the time for gardening and outdoors so I don’t ever think that much about curriculum during these months. This year we are unschooling for a life season so no curriculum on the near horizon.

  6. I start thinking about it a couple of months before the homeschool convention, which is in April. I make a list of what I need and what their retail prices are. Then I know when I am finding a good deal on the used curriculum.
    I also look at what I might want to change and peruse the reviews. Then at the convention I take a more hands on look to make the decision.
    Paula’s latest post: Abhor Evil – Part One

  7. Now is the time that I realize something’s not working, so by planning for next year, I make myself feel better and am working to solve the problem.

    Last year, I missed the window to sell used curriculum because — I guess things were working. LOL. Made a note to sell last year’s stuff this Spring. Hoping to find the time now. 🙂

  8. We plan to school year round but I recently purchased a few things for “next” year. Seems this is the time of year a lot of homeschool materials tend to go on sale.
    Dee’s latest post: March 17

  9. Patricia says:

    In March I survey the kids on their likes and dislikes from the current year list of subjects. I also ask them what their interests are for their next course of study so I can start researching available materials. I attend a homeschooling convention in early May so by that point I’m ready to buy new/used curriculum for our next grade level (we homeschool some subjects all year round). I started using the workbox system this past year (it has been a wonderful experience!) and so by July I will have the school year mapped out. I then create a spreadsheet listing all of our subjects and update it daily with our progress. The kids love seeing the little spreadsheet boxes fill with X’s. Of course, throughout the year, we do some tweaking and sometimes need to add more material but our largest amount of curriculum purchases takes place in May.

  10. Stefani M. says:

    January. I’ve started buying stuff already for next school year and by purchasing in this “off-season” I’ve gotten great deals… like Mr. Q science for 50% off and Math Mammoth for 50% off. I let the books set the pace, so I don’t set up our super-soft schedule until just before school starts. (I don’t care when we finish as long as we do finish the book(s) and that it’s sometime near the end of the planned “school year”.)

  11. I tend to have curriculum on my mind year-round (since that’s how we school), but I do the “official” planning in late spring/early summer. I need those lighter months to prepare activities, etc. since we’ve had a preschooler or kindergartener every year for the past 4 years – and will be starting our youngest in preschool in the fall!
    Tricia Ballad’s latest post: Excited to join the Disney Blog Hop!

  12. We school year round on a July-June calendar and I do serious planning twice a year. I’m planning right now for our overall year next year and nailing down our themes for each term and each subject. Before the end of June I’ll have detailed plans for July-February and then I continue to work on March-June through the rest of the summer. In December we take an extended break so I evaluate how we’re doing and make adjustments if we need to for the second half of the year.

    We have “off” weeks built in about every 6 weeks that allow us time to catch up if we had illness, a rabbit trail we followed, or the opportunity for unplanned field trips. I also use those off weeks to make sure we’re on track and that our work is fitting us. The plan is there to help me, not control me, so if something ends up not working for us I feel just fine cutting something out or adjusting the pace in my computer file. Sometimes an idea or project comes up on us that we need to spend more time on than I planned for and I try to make room for those things.
    Erin’s latest post: Spring Birds

  13. I have just recently begun jotting down notes/ideas for next year. I tend to do a lot of this in May and June… just thoughts as they come to me, bits of inspiration, or even a ‘feeling’ of what Ii want the upcoming year to look like in different areas of life.

  14. We school from June to March to accommodate our family schedule. Our state convention is in May so I usually take April to do my research and planning for those purchases.

  15. I tend to plan throughout the year as I see my children’s interests change and grow. I’m set for a math curriculum, so that doesn’t really change, but other things can. I love planning!

  16. This is our first year and if I’m honest I have found myself thinking about curriculum more than I’d like to admit. That said, this month it does feel as though I’m getting greater clarity on where we’ll head next year and I’m excited about putting some energy toward this end. I’ll look forward to gleaning much from your upcoming series.
    Thanks ahead of time!
    Cari’s latest post: Revision

  17. I start thinking about new books and schedules in January. It’s then that I compile the list of books we need, research costs and then I carry that list around with me, so that I can snag good deals at the library, bookswap or conventions. I am a curriculum junkie, but have set some boundaries (LOL)….We’re just now at the point where many of the books are being passed down to the littles.

  18. I think about things throughout the year, but usually start planning more seriously in spring. I review my decisions with my husband and my children. I think it is important to get the kids’ input, too!

  19. This is our first year homeschooling year round and we’re ( umm, okay I am ) very excited about it. I don’t normally sit and figure out a daily curriculum or schedule, with the exception of math. I try to focus more on a themetic approach which does require tons of planning, but well worth it. I tend to start figuring things out in late Feburary and all of March. That’s not etched in stone, but that’s normally when I *try* to start, although I won’t implement the new curriculum until June/July. I know I seem willy-nilly in my planning process yet it works out for us.

  20. Shelley R. says:

    Overall philosophy of how to guide education–all the time.
    Actual curriculum purchases, the scope and sequence of learning, maybe now, usually the end of July early August.
    What helps me most though is processing thoughts, exploring new directions and how to implement them with my best friend and husband, he helps me tremendously. Even better when he can attend a conference on learning in the home with me…

  21. I have to admit, I like to plan in January or February. I get my book lists ready and start buying as I can. I like to have everything for the next school year by the end of the current school year, that way I don’t have to think about it during summer break.
    Then we can start whenever we feel like we are ready to get back to school. Last year we had about 8 weeks off and restarted again in July. It made for a great Christmas time break for me when we were able to take off lots of days. This year I’m planning to move in may and expecting a baby in June, so I’m not anticipating starting school in the middle of summer, but then you never know, my kids thrive on a schedule and it might be just what they need.
    Suanna’s latest post: Celebrate Spring!

  22. We did a preK Before Five in a Row with my 3/4yr old this year which I planned last spring. Right now I am already deciding what preK things we’re going to do for this upcoming year (4/5 and 3yrs). I’m looking forward to my first home school convention at the beginning of May and will probably make my selections shortly thereafter.
    I think spring is a good time to get things sorted out. Then free for summer and you can start whenever you are ready 🙂
    Looking forward to the upcoming series!
    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling’s latest post: BecoPotty by BecoThings Giveaway

  23. We are basically on a year round homeschooling schedule. So there is no break in anything. That way, when we finish one section of something, we simply move into the next section, wherever that falls during the calendar year. By going year round, we don’t lose any momentum and we can take off a week or two whenever we need it for special family things.
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: The Skys Proclaim the Work of His Hands

  24. I am planning my new year now. I am making changes from the way we are currently doing things as they did not work for us this year.

  25. I usually start the planning around March and the bulk of my purchases in April. We usually start our new school “year” in July (we homeschool all year round), but I like to have everthing in place by end of May. Of course I make changes here and there during our school year depending on what’s working and what’s not. We just LOVE when the bulk of our books/curriculum comes though – it’s like Christmas unpacking all those wonderful books!

  26. We school year round, but don’t actually start our ‘year’ until November. In the spring I start thinking about the general plan for the next year and figuring out what subjects I will need to do research on and buy. Over the summer, I narrow down my curriculum choices and start ordering anything that needs to be ordered. I don’t lesson plan much in advance, so I’ll take a week before school starts for the year to get everything ready. (We normally take a month break or so in Sept/Oct.)

    I’m always reading & thinking though. So even if I’m not in ‘official’ planning mode, I’m keeping lists and reading reviews for things that might fill a need for the next year. I also have a general idea of the topics we will be covering, so I can be on the watch for good used books in those areas.

  27. I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for things my boys will enjoy learning; workbooks, craft supplies, books, manipulatives. But this will be our first official year of homeschooling. My husband just recently jumped on the homeschool train because we live in Mexico and the schools are, let’s just say, less than stellar. We will also receive some funding from my husband’s employer for schooling! SO, long story short, I am officially looking at curriculum right now! 🙂
    Emily@Creative Disaster’s latest post: We were on a break!

  28. I think about it all year, but especially starting in January. This coming week is spring break and I plan on devoting several hours to researching and planning.

    I love reading Cathy Duffy’s reviews — but I also employ the reviews of fellow homeschooling moms on The Homeschool Lounge.
    Megret’s latest post: UBP 2011!

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