How to Homeschool This Year

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Now’s the time to start planning how to homeschool this year. I’m approaching it from a number of angles.

school supplies

This year, all six of my kids will be in school. The last few times I’ve said this, my listener has thought I meant I wasn’t homeschooling. They thought we were switching gears altogether and sending the kids “to school”.

Ha! No, I am a diehard homeschool mom, even without the denim jumper. What I mean is that all of my kids will be in “active schooling at home”. My baby turns 5 next month and will be starting kindergarten work in the fall.

Our children will be in 11th, 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, and kindergarten. Oh my!

As such, that means I need to get a game plan going for our school this year. I actually did much of this planning during the last week of school in the spring while it was all fresh in my mind. Those thoughts, combined with the boys’ standardized test scores, will be guiding the nuts and bolts of planning how to homeschool this year.

Every year is different, just as every child is different. Here are some of the things that go into my planning our homeschool for 2013-2014:

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school books

I keep some of the things that worked in the past and try new ones.

Last summer I shared in-depth reviews of the curriculum we were using. Some things were wonderful, some not so much.

The Well-Trained Mind continues to be my “go-to resource” for homeschooling. I’m thrilled with our Math, Reading, and History resources; we’ll be continuing on with those for everyone, where applicable.

I loved the Grammar and Writing resources from Peace Hill Press that we used last year. Most of the kids will be continuing with those as well, except for the three older boys for Grammar. PHP doesn’t have middle school and high school grammar resources, and I did not love Rod and Staff, so we’ll be trying some new things for 6th, 8th, and 11th.

Visual Latin rocks. My 11th grader will be continuing on into his third or fourth year of it. French, on the other hand, has been a challenge. My mad time management skills did not allow for enough attention to French last year. So, I need to step it up so we can have a bon voyage next spring.

school grammar curriculum

I consider a particular child’s strengths and weaknesses and what he needs in the coming year.

I breathed a big sigh of relief when my eldest’s test scores came back. Not that I put all that much weight into testing, but it was a nice objective confirmation that academically speaking, the experiment is working! My “guinea pig” is faring well with a home education and topped out in every category tested.

The younger kids’ tests were a good mix of above and at grade level with a few “needs improvement” areas. Part of the latter may be the fault of testing something they haven’t been exposed to, part may be the fault of the teacher. Either way, I know where to put a little more emphasis next year and what to keep at the current pace.

By considering each child’s strengths and weaknesses, I can set individual goals for him or her.

hockey mom goalie

I plan our outside commitments and activities.

We’ve never been a big activities family. When the kids were all young, it was just too much. Slowly, as they get older, we work more things into the fold.

So far we’ve got hockey and Science class on the docket for outside activities for FishBoys16 and 12. My 9-year old will probably play hockey as well. Our piano teacher is going off to college, so we need to find an alternative music option for FishBoy11. I’d like to find the girls something that they’d enjoy doing as well, though one already has her sights set on playing hockey like her brothers.

notebook goals

I analyze my own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, home manager and work at home mom.

There are so many moving parts in my life as mom. I am the main teacher for my kids, the main cook and bottle washer, and I work at home. The first and the latter are not negotiable this year. Those are things that I love and that serve my family.

However, even there I can find ways to delegate, like hiring a science teacher or enlisting a virtual assistant.

That middle point: cook and washerwoman? Well, we’re working on that. When my kids were all little, I did it all.

And, no, I have no idea HOW I did that.

Now that they are bigger, the kids take care of the kitchen chores, wash their own laundry, clean a bathroom once a week, take care of their own spaces, and are learning to cook. Amen. It helps me balance our home life and school life a little better.

I’ll be strategizing  freezer meals, quick lunches, and breakfast bars to make the school daze easier.

That said, I do need to manage my time well and analyze my must-do’s, separating them from the time sucks. More on this once I figure it out. I know I need to so that I can walk this year with my head on straight. It starts with putting my new personal notebook together for the year.

Planning doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it easy. But, it does help you get closer to the outcomes you want to see in the future, whether it’s in homeschool or just life in general.

What will you consider as you plan for homeschooling this year?

Disclosure: This post does include affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees.

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  1. We have 8 kiddoes, but with the oldest now 21, we are actually going down in homeschool numbers this year, for the first time ever! I will have 5 homeschooling kids!

  2. I just finished planning out and ordering the bulk of our homeschooling needs last week. I am switching our gears a bit and being more hands on with one child who seems to be of a different learning style than the other two and test grades showed we needed to improve and catch up. The other two I am keeping with the same curriculum with a few tweaks as one tested average and the other tested 4 grade levels above average so I am thinking it is working so why mess with it. The varied test scores were a real eye opener to my children’s unique learning personalities and I feel blessed to be able to homeschool so that I can adapt their work to suit their individual needs and learning styles.

    1. It is an eye-opener, isn’t it? I have one who thinks about math in a way that I cannot comprehend. It doesn’t seem logical to me, but it works for him.

  3. Was wondering what you are using for french? We are starting this year I thought it would be easier as I already am fluent (my sister lives in Paris) but my older ones are struggling.

    1. We tried Rosetta Stone, but we have some hardware issues. The headphone/microphone that comes with the kit is ultra sensitive. It doesn’t even like my pronunciation and I’m not THAT out of practice. The kids are told that they are wrong, when they are not.

  4. I love your homeschooling posts!! We will be homeschooling 6 children this year also, 10th-k, high school has been the challenge. We love wtm and Susan wise Bauer too. Thanks for the encouragement, it is so helpful to see the tweaking always continues for others too!!

  5. Your book stack looks suspiciously like mine does this year! Minus the kindergarten book, as my youngest is not yet schooling. But I’ll be homeschooling 5 again this year and I’m completely counting on your cookbook to save my life 🙂 I was very motivated to keep my freezer stocked by good ol’ gestation hormones for several years in a row (my greatest achievement was 80 meals in the freezer!) but now that my youngest is 4, I’ve fallen off the wagon. I’m using this summer to hopefully regain that part of life too!

  6. My kids are still preschool, but one has a variety of special needs and is beginning to read, so I’m deepening his “study.” We do a lot of book-based units and activities (like the activities from your 50 Books ebook), but one of my goals this year is to find an appropriate and helpful reading curriculum for him (for next year) that can be adapted to his special needs, too. We work with a few therapists with him, too, which helps me see and set additional goals. I’m definitely thankful to be traveling down the homeschooling road with him to help his particular needs!

    Thanks for sharing your thought process on homeschool planning. I always like reading how other families figure things out!

  7. What age/grade level is the creative writer/5 finger exercise geared for?

  8. Not quite related to this post, but…. would you re-post the “I’m in ____ grade” printouts that you offered last year?
    My daughter who will be a Junior has already asked me if we’re doing that! Hard to get high schoolers excited about school so I definitely want to make it happen. Thanks for all your inspiration!

  9. Just started reading The Well Trained Mind since you posted a few times on here and I saw on another site. I thought it would be a dry and boring book. Not so! I like how it starts with a story. I’m just starting to dip my foot into homeschooling. I was a K teacher for 12 years and my last year of teaching I was pregnant with my first child. I knew I wanted to homeschool, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. As I’m researching more, my thoughts are changing. I used to think traditional like what I taught at school, but now I’m expanding and I’m so excited to learn along with my kids. I have a 2 and 4 year old and look forward to the next several years as we start to expand our knowledge. Thanks for all the helpful homeschooling tips.

    1. So glad you are enjoying it. I devoured that book when my son was a toddler. I’ve got a post with you in mind posting later this week. It’s about what to do while you wait for your kids to be old enough for formal schooling. 🙂