When it comes to teaching, we all know how vital planning is. I feel the same about Homeschooling. As I don’t follow any particular boxed curriculum, I like to draw up on my own teaching experience and begin planning based on a topic we choose. In this post I’m going to take you through steps on how I plan for our Homeschool. I’ve also thrown in my Planning Templates for FREE!
Step 1 – Annual Planning
First up, I plan for the whole year way in advance in the summer. Usually our academic year begins in September. I’ve been planning for this academic year (Sept 2019 – Aug 2020) since July 2019. If you aren’t convinced about annual planning, here’s an article I wrote about the benefits of annual planning for more reasons on why I find it so useful. The main reason is you have a focus for the year. You will find you won’t get sidetracked by what other homeschoolers are doing. Of course you can still be flexible and swap and change things around, but I highly recommend an annual plan. Here’s the one I use, you can download it as a FREE template, edit it as you please to fit your annual plan.
Step 2 – Resources
Once I’ve jotted down the main areas of learning in my annual plan, I can start collating all the resources, I have, may need and could borrow/buy. You may decide to buy some resources at a later date to save on blowing your budget, However, it’s something that really works for me, as we homeschool in Saudi Arabia, I need to buy everything we need in the summer in the UK before travelling back.
Step 3 – Topic Web
The next step is making a topic web for your first topic. The topic web allows you to jot down all your ideas in relation to your topic. You can download my Topic web template for FREE here. The topic web consists of areas to be jotted down for English, Maths, Science, History/Geography, Religion, Well-being, Sports, Computing, Language and a few more! This cross curricular way of learning and teaching is perfect to help your children connect the dots through their learning. How nice is it to link in a maths lesson to a topic on the Amazon Rainforest for example. You could decide what measurements you need to use to measure the tall Amazon Rainforest Trees – kg, ml, cm or m. Or for example, this September we will be looking closely at the Ancient Egyptians. We’re hoping to link in 3d shape pyramid in maths and in DT attempt to make a model pyramid using what we know about the shape. In the same way you can tie in materials, sinking and floating with the River Nile as we recap the story of Prophet Musa (as) floating as a baby down the River Nile. The possibilities are endless.
Step 4 – Monthly Plan
The best thing about jotting all the ideas down in once place are then deciding how much of it is possible in the time frame you have, in the resources you have and how realistically you will be able to do EVERYTHING you wrote down. Now, that doesn’t mean you should start crossing off ideas off your topic web, in fact it’s time to construct your monthly plan to help you to realise what’s actually possible to do. For the monthly Plan, I divide the month into weekly themes/questions which helps in progress for learning. This means you are breaking down the areas of learning and categorising them into smaller bite size chunks in a logical order which will build on their subject knowledge and understanding. For example, in a 4 week topic linked to Transport, the first week we may look at what transport actually is and becoming familiar with different modes of transport. In the second and third week we may jump to early transport and work our way through transport over time, from early cars, using horses and camels as a mode of transport to airplanes and trains. In the final week of the Transport topic we could look at transport across the world and then finally design our own mode of transport at the end. This brief example shows you how topic may be divided on the questions that could be asked around the topic. It’s also nice to discuss the topics with your children to find out what they may already know and taking the angle you choose based on the questions your children may ask. If it’s a brand new topic, then I suggest starting with the basics and touching on all areas of the topic that is relevant to your child’s age and level of learning. Click here to download our Free Monthly Plan Template.
Step 5 – Weekly Plan
On the same monthly grid, or in a teachers weekly planner or even just your bullet journal or notebook, you can jot down the finer details for the weekly plan at the start of each week. What this means is you don’t need to think of brand new fresh ideas each week. In fact you need to look back at your monthly plan and topic web before you jot down what you will be doing for the week. For example, looking back at the transport topic, for the first week we decided to look at what transport actually is. You may want to divide up each day of the week into different areas of transport: vehicles on the road, trains, cycling and walking, transport in the sea and transport in the air etc. This allows you to answer the question ensuring you cover the learning for the week. Of course if your child’s interest is sparked on a certain mode of transport, by all means carry on with that. Remember, planning for your homeschool is ideally for you to be on top of things. I find it helps me in confidence knowing I’ve covered exactly what we needed to in the topic we were looking at. I also find it allows me to be flexible after knowing how much the children have learnt around the topic.
Step 6 – Daily Plan
Whilst I don’t really plan for each day every day, I do have a list of things I will need for each day at the start of the week. So I will be referring to my weekly plan daily to remind myself of what we are looking at. When looking at planning for each day in the week, think about the activities you decide, balancing out hands on activities throughout the weeks, ensuring there’s some writing you could tie in, and maths too. For example, your children can write a list of all the different kinds of vehicles they could find on the road (or they could read from labels) remember work at their pace and keep the activities easy. That same afternoon, they could work on maths by going outside and making a tally of the different vehicles they spot!
So that’s really it when it comes to planning for me. I love starting big and broad and then fine tuning my ideas into realistic lessons for each day of the week. For more on Planning for Topic, check out my previous post here.
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