While we school year-round, some families are preparing for the upcoming homeschool year. Planning can be loads of fun but for others it can be an overwhelming task.
Have you ever considered having a homeschool planning retreat?
I want to take you on a journey and give you some suggestions on how to have the best planning session ever!
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Select a day.
Choose a day to have your homeschool planning retreat. If you can take a whole day, do it. If not, try to schedule at least 4 hours of planning time.
Arrange child care for your children. If possible, have them out of the house so that you can do the planning in the comfort of your home. Here’s why:
- Your curriculum will be at your disposal.
- You don’t have to pay for food, treats, or coffee for yourself.
- Your home (without kids) will probably have fewer distractions.
Make a plan.
It may sound silly for you to make a plan to plan, but this is a critical step. Here are some things to consider:
- What do you want to accomplish during your planning retreat?
- How many weeks, months, etc. do you want to plan for?
- Design a strategy to minimize distractions (i.e. let the phone go to voicemail; tell people not to call unless it’s urgent; don’t check your text messages or social media accounts while planning).
- Create an itinerary for yourself (make sure to include mini-breaks and inspiration in your day).
- Create a menu for yourself. I even suggest preparing your meals and snacks the evening before your retreat.
- What keeps you focused and motivated? Include this in your planning retreat as well. For example, if to-do lists motivate you, make a huge one and hang it in your workspace.
Gather your supplies.
Before your retreat, collect all the materials you will need. Here are some things you could gather ahead of time:
- The calendar for your household.
- Your homeschool planner (I love my gorgeous planner from Mama Miss Designs).
- A computer or laptop with access to a printer (make sure your printer has ink).
- Some pens, highlighters, and sticky notes.
- Your children’s curriculum and workbooks.
- Some assorted snacks and treats.
- A candle or scented oil for aromatherapy purposes.
- A plant or a bouquet of flowers.
- A collection of music or your favourite playlists (if you don’t like to work in silence).
What to do on your planning retreat day.
I encourage you to start your planning in an inspiring way. I like to pray before I do my homeschool planning. I invite God to help me create a curriculum that will motivate and encourage my children. You may want to start your planning with a refreshing walk around the block or perhaps you could do a couple invigorating stretches before you sit down to work.
Begin with your calendar.
Start planning by looking at your calendar and noting any holidays, non-school days, etc. Record all of those dates on your calendar.
Evaluate your learning objectives.
Evaluate your learning objectives and assign a time-frame for each component of your curriculum. For example, if you have 5 science units that you need to cover in 10 months, you can plan 2 months of in-depth study for each unit. Document these units on your calendar or in your homeschool planner.
If you’re planning for a shorter amount of time (like 6 weeks) focus on what units and curriculum you would like to cover during that time.
Repeat this process with each of your subjects.
Take a break.
This is a great time to take a break. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, treat yourself to a snack, and relax. Don’t clean. Don’t do any other tasks. This is your break. Give yourself a solid 15 -20 minutes to recharge your brain.
Document your detailed/daily plans.
Return to your planning with the task of planning your curriculum into your days. You may prefer to do the planning for one subject all at once, or you may want to plan day by day. I personally prefer planning subject by subject, that way I’m not opening and closing various books.
Keep organized as you work.
As you note specific activities, make sure you have a piece of paper nearby. I like to have three lists available while I’m planning:
- A to-do list (to track anything I need to prepare for a week’s particular activities).
- A shopping list for materials I need to buy (or gather) to carry out activities.
- A book list (to keep track of books I wish to borrow from the library, etc.).
As I plan, I note everything I will need and I keep the lists with my plans. Since I do my planning in 4-week blocks, I take out these lists in the week prior to when I’ve scheduled the lessons and I check items off of the list as I complete them.
You can download your own copy of my Planning Notes printable here:
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You may also want to place sticky notes in the pages of your textbooks so that you can quickly reference pages when you’re teaching lessons to your children.
Take more breaks.
Try to reward yourself short breaks throughout your planning retreat. Make sure to do enjoyable, relaxing, and inspiring activities. Here are some ideas for your breaks:
- Pray, meditate, and/or read your Bible.
- Go for a walk around the block.
- Paint your toenails.
- Eat a pastry while sipping a cup of tea.
- Read a book.
- Work on a crossword puzzle.
- Take a power nap.
Also, I find setting a timer for work time and a timer for break time to be effective. This way I don’t get distracted from the critical task of getting the planning done.
Once you’ve completed your plans, celebrate and do a happy dance!