Planning for Your Upcoming Homeschool in 11 Vital Steps

Here are eleven essential steps when planning for your upcoming homeschool.

Because if you don’t have essential steps to guide your planning for your upcoming homeschool, you will be caught up in website after website, or Facebook group after Facebook group, entirely overwhelmed with all the possibilities.

How do you go about planning for your upcoming homeschool year? Here are 11 essential steps.

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Here are eleven steps for planning your upcoming homeschool year…

1. Be realistic about how much time you have to plan for your upcoming homeschool.

You could spend the entire summer planning for your homeschool: there are so many options, ideas, resources, bloggers, social media influencers, books, and podcasts.

Last week, I shared about homeschool books that could help you research your homeschool plans, but this week, I’ll share a few podcasts that might help you too.

(FYI if you didn’t catch last week’s episode, know that you can access my Homeschool Mama Reading List to get you started. So many books.)

Your homeschool research can be informed by your natural preferences and worldviews, or your homeschool philosophy choices……
Every last bit of research will be useful, but you don’t want to be in constant research mode. You want to be present doing fun stuff with your growing kids now.

Because they’ll keep growing up whether you’re glued to your phone or not.

So time block your homeschool research time.

(FYI I have a Time Audit to help you learn to manage your time and use your time for intentional purposes, you can find that here.)

Decide when you are going to set aside time to plan for your upcoming homeschool year.
  • Will you listen to a podcast while you’re walking the dog or pulling weeds after dinner?
  • Will you turn on a podcast while you’re doing a Pilates workout?
  • Is Wednesday evening in a library cubicle near you the right time to both getaway and plan?
  • Of course, you’re especially invited to set aside time to join me for the Year End Review to consider all your upcoming year’s plans.

If you’re joining me for the Year End Review, we’ll do it before July, so you can both put away your books, papers, and stray pencils, and clean up your homeschool space, WHILE planning your upcoming year, so you can sit with your stack of summer reads beside your preferred watering hole with the kids splashing about, or of course, you can jump in and play with them.

So when will you decide to plan for your upcoming homeschool year?

be realistic as you're planning for your homeschool

2. Incorporate self-care practices: they are a requirement, not an option.

In the past, I struggled with perfectionism, always striving for flawlessness instead of embracing my unique abilities, efforts, and weaknesses.

When anger coursed through me, I would inadvertently unleash it onto whoever was closest, blaming them for my emotional state instead of taking ownership of my feelings. Overwhelmed by life’s challenges, I would burden myself with unrealistic expectations, dragging those around me into a whirlwind of frenzy.

Caring for my own physical, emotional, and mental well-being didn’t come naturally to me.

However, along this incredible journey of homeschooling my children, I have gradually come to realize the profound importance of self-care. (You might have noticed. Since you’re listening to a podcast on self-care for homeschool moms AND I wrote a book titled Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer).

In the early years of homeschooling, self-care meant finding precious moments to attend to my own basic needs, like stealing a minute to use the bathroom or indulging in the occasional solitary shower (until someone knocked on the door, so 5-15 solitary minutes every few days).

Nowadays, my life is adorned with an abundance of self-care strategies, each one worthy of filling the pages of a book (which you may very well be reading an excerpt from).

Even though self-care was once challenging, I have learned to prioritize my well-being, unabashedly ignoring the sounds of my kids banging on the door.

On auspicious days, self-care involves luxuries such as…
  • solitary bathing with a facial mask and a daughter painting my nails,
  • or preparing delicious meals just for me and my husband, involving halibut, lemon, and butter, whether the kids want to eat that or not,
  • granting myself moments of pure relaxation as I weed the garden with a podcast playing,
  • or a nature walk with the dog, a 45-minute swim in the local pool,
  • sitting with something bubbly on an Adirondack chair in the front yard with my stack of books,
  • or Netflix and SeaSalt Dark Chocolate.
Of course, you should know, all of this took a long time to practice: managing my emotions, creating and maintaining boundaries, building eyeball-to-eyeball time with each of my important people, exercise and nutrition practices, and all sorts of other self-care practices.

All. of. this.

I wrote a book detailing that journey, as I shared above, but just this last month, I created a Wellness Guide for Homeschool Moms in 7 Strategies if you want to learn what I did and how I did it, and how you can too.

I have come to realize that self-care is an essential aspect of life for everyone, regardless of their chosen profession.

Even my physician husband recently returned from a long shift in the emergency room and casually mentioned his need for self-care. It struck me as amusing, considering I rarely heard him utter those words before. After tending to the needs of others and being a pillar of calm during anxious moments, he requires time to decompress and recharge.

Of course, my husband’s approach to self-care is vastly different from mine. He finds solace in activities such as scanning Twitter, working up a sweat on the elliptical, lifting weights, playing beautiful melodies on the piano (think Chariots of Fire), running alongside our energetic dog, taming trees on our homestead with a chainsaw, or engaging in strategic battles on the virtual chessboard. Not one of these pastimes would make it onto my personal list.

The truth is, every profession demands its own form of self-care.

Self-care extends beyond the realm of homeschooling mothers, encompassing front-line emergency workers, airline pilots soaring through the skies, diligent typists, gracious restaurant hostesses, and every single person who graces this Earth with their presence.

As homeschooling mothers, we face a unique challenge—the continuous presence of our kiddos.

While there are moments of pure delight in witnessing our little ones harmoniously engaging, exploring new interests, overcoming hurdles, and radiating their innate cuteness, there is also an undeniable stream of emotions, sibling squabbles, complaints, distractions, and the constant uncertainty of effective parenting.

This perpetual current of challenges can sometimes lead to overwhelming moments on our homeschooling journey, so if you want to offset the overwhelm, continuously engage your needs: learn to nurture the nurturer.

 planning for your homeschool means you're looking after yourself

3. In planning for your upcoming homeschool year, be clear: you can influence a child but can’t control them.

So decide now, how do you want to deal with these two things: 1. your child’s lack of motivation and 2. how you want to deal with their big emotions.

Kids are independent agents. EVEN THOUGH they are entirely dependent on you, they want autonomy, because they were meant to become autonomous. As Charlotte Mason reminds us, “Children are born persons”. And we need to practice allowing them to be.

NOTE: This isn’t easy, wasn’t easy for me, but it’s a principle that I believe will help you accept and surrender to your reality: they are separate from you.

Want to know a common discussion I have with some homeschool moms? I often get asked about these two things:
  1. How do I get my kid to motivated to do “such and such”?
  2. How do I get my kid to be in emotional control?

Here’s my answer, but I suspect you won’t like it (Because I sure didn’t, and also I didn’t even believe it was true: surely the following answer was wrong. There’s got to be another answer).

The answer: you can’t.
1. For the discussion on motivation, I would say this:

You can create an atmosphere, where kids might be motivated or interested in the activities you lay before them. You might be able to create an environment that feels welcoming, safe, and comfortable so they are present and engaged in many of your activities together. And you might be able to strew a math workbook and manipulatives, and the child might want to do the math workbook. And on some days he might not.

I believe we can expect some things from our kids, even if our kids would rather not do them, but if we expect our kids to do certain things that they don’t like doing, we shouldn’t expect them to want to be motivated to do them.

I also believe that when we continuously lay expectations upon expectations upon our kids, they may experience a transactional relationship with us.

If you do this, I will do that.

Over the course of time, it will be less motivating for a child to respond positively and generously. (Would you feel a natural kinship towards someone who had continuous expectations of your time activities and choices, but didn’t regularly show interest in you otherwise?)

An expectation assessment might be useful if you wonder whether your expectations are interfering with your child’s motivation. (You can book a coaching conversation to assess your expectations FYI).

I believe we were all placed on this earth to do different things. We have natural interests and curiosities and I believe we were meant to do something with those interests and curiosities in our time here. I also believe that’s the case with her kids.

Case in point: my son loves playing with the high school calculator his oldest sister gave him.

Yesterday, we drove an hour and a half to a May Days event to discuss federal politics with anyone who wanted to have a conversation about the value of their vote (my husband is running as an Independent in the upcoming federal election, and my husband’s rabbit trail of interest), my son played with his Calculator.

This is not an activity you would find me doing whether I was his age of 14 or my age of 49, or literally any time of my entire life.

After an hour of tapping on the calculator, my son declared: “I figured out some things that will help me in my math class. These calculator tools will be useful in calculating things we’ve been learning lately.”

Would you ever find me doing this activity at any moment in my life? Absolutely not.

Would you declare me unmotivated because you would never find me spending my spare moments learning the many uses of a calculator? Probably not.

I am motivated by my work as a life coach. I would not be motivated to life coach if it required me to learn a calculator. So why would it be required that I’d be motivated to learn a subject that has zero relevance to me and I find no joy in literally ever?

Then why do we expect our kids to be motivated to do things they have no interest in either?

2. As to a discussion on helping your child get emotional control…

If you are a homeschool mama who hasn’t been affirmed in feeling her big emotions, like anger, sadness, disappointment, a moment of confusion, feeling distressed, or flustered or stress, you are going to be flustered, frustrated, and confused when dealing with your kid’s big emotions.

Here’s what I believe:

1. All humans have big emotions. They are not good or bad. They just are.

2. Big emotions happen in response to various experiences. Emotions are energy in motion. We experience energy in motion: we may have a different response to an experience, but we all have emotions.

3. We cannot prescribe our emotions in various circumstances. And we cannot prescribe our children’s emotions in various circumstances. We are who we are and they are who they are.

4. Emotions were meant to be experienced. We must see them, hear them, feel them, and honour them. When we try not to feel them, or we were trained not to see them, hear them, or feel them, or we were told they weren’t important, we are hurting ourselves and shortchanging our relationships and our lives.

5. We can learn to see, hear, feel, and honour our big emotions. Because they matter. Because you matter.

6. When we learn to see, hear, feel, and honour our big emotions, we are more likely to see, hear, feel, and honour our children’s big emotions.

7. This takes time, this takes effort, this can feel unnatural, and this will require you to dig into the unseen, unheard, unfelt, and dishonoured parts of yourself.

But it is worth every effort because it will transform your life: you will show up on purpose in your home, school, and your life in ways you may not ever have imagined, you will feel human again, you will feel alive, and you will enable your children to as well.

planning for your upcoming homeschool year

4. Academics are not synonymous with an education so think outside the traditional learning box.

Of course, you can learn from a teacher’s lecture, a workbook, or tests that sometimes encourage recall.

However, you can also learn from these things:
1. You can learn from games.

Name a game, and I, or someone who has homeschooled for many years, could easily tell you how your child is uniquely learning through that game.

  • A game of chess enables strategy,
  • and a game of chutes and ladders enables simple arithmetic.
  • Professor Noggins’ games can help us learn geography, Canadian provinces, astronomy, biomes and habitats, and any other knowledge titbit under the sun.
  • Poker can teach statistics.
  • Board games, gaming systems, portable car games, card games, and dice games all have their learning potential.
2. Kids can learn from conversations.

A conversation might break out after listening to a radio, or news piece, or after uncle so-and-so, had a discussion with dad about a recent current event, or your child sees something in the common culture that they haven’t seen in their own home, or when a child reads something they’re not familiar with, or when your child is interested in literally any activity: all these conversations can be fertile ground for a child to think and learn to build critical thinking skills, and to learn from. Every single conversation.

3. Your child can learn from people outside your home.

We are known as homeschoolers, but we are anything but at home all the time. Can I hear an amen?

We do interesting things. Sometimes that’s at home and sometimes it’s not.

When kids have an interest in a specific area where we do not have skills or knowledge, we look for resources and mentors in our community to come alongside our kids so they can have useful mentors.

These community mentors can come alongside our kids for a few years or just an afternoon. These mentoring opportunities are meaningful educational opportunities.

If your kiddo is interested in something, anything, ask around to find out who might be interested in sharing their expertise with your kiddo, because there is always someone.

4. Anything your child reads watches, or listens to could be a learning opportunity contributing to your kid’s education.

Just because it’s not found in a classroom doesn’t mean it’s not educational.

But FYI the traditional classroom uses cinematic films, documentaries, games, workbooks, manipulatives, & online language programs too.

All this stuff is educational. If your child is learning, there is something educational there.

utilizing mentors to plan for an upcoming homeschool year

5. Plan for the “S” question. You will have to answer it to infinity and beyond.

Even though someone may comment on how kind and considerate your children are toward each other at the playground, even though most people have been educated in a brick-and-mortar school, and no socialization is not encouraged during class time, and even though most adults know that they don’t want to spend 30 hours in a room with 24 other people, their exact age, I believe you are likely to be asked about this question brackets the socialization question to infinity and beyond, so pre-plan for it.

What is your answer? Your peace-oriented, authentic, and non-reactive answer? Practice it.

6. There is no ONE right way to homeschool.

Since there are only one to 15 children in your home, and you are only responsible for homeschooling 1 to 15 children, you only have to find one to 15 ways to homeschool.

And from one homeschool mom to another, I’ve learned that you never get things fully right for any of them.

Sure we can try, and we are constitutionally bound to do so.

But as with every area in our lives, perfection will not be found. Because perfect ain’t a thing.

Growth is a thing, process is a thing, and learning is a thing.

So I believe there is not one right way to homeschool. So take a deep cleansing breath, and accept your perfectly imperfect, homeschool life.

Do it in whatever seems right to you today and continue to learn and process and grow and discover a new way tomorrow.

7. Everything isn’t always going to go well all the time.

I want you to turn all your homeschool challenges into your homeschool charms.

You’ve heard me say that and I mean it: I want the charmed life for you and I wanted it for me.

And I’ve learned that this one sweet life you’re been given requires growth.

Synonymous with life is growth, therefore:

1. Nothing stays the same. As with the seasons, things change. We learn new things, we incorporate new things, and we make more intentional choices.

2. Crappy stuff happens. But it can be composted and become even more nurturing soil for new seeds.

3. Having and helping grow kids up in our homeschool homes means we have mini-mirrors. I call children our mini-mirrors, because we experience ourselves reflected in the eyes of the little ones we care for. (Of course, they’re having their own experience, and we become a mirror for them too). But our growth journey requires us to learn from our mini-mirrors, our children. And learning about ourselves via our mini-mirrors isn’t going to feel good all the time.

In this life, we sign up for growth. And in this home school life, we sign up for growth alongside her children…

8. Always work toward fun in your homeschool days.

You can make your homeschool days a slog by trying to check off all the boxes. But I just said something you already know.

I know the value of a ticked box, the satisfaction of all those checkmarks.

Those ticked boxes make us feel like we’re living a productive life. (I’m very capable of being highly productive: don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a strong area of my life at present).

Yet I have learned that productivity (whether in homeschooling, podcasting, writing, or coaching), doesn’t automatically equate with a meaningful and joyful life.

So I’ve learned that a checked box life doesn’t make a meaningful, joy-filled life.

Don’t waste this one beautiful homeschool life checking boxes. Make fun your goal.

In everything.

Unless you can’t, which, of course, you won’t be able to. But that is still your goal.

When planning for your upcoming homeschool, where can you infuse daily and weekly routines of fun?
  • Can you include a fun Friday where you plan extracurricular events and games all day?
  • Can you include a season of documentaries?
  • Will you include a season of Unschooling?
  • Can you include weekly field trips with another homeschool family?
  • Will you include an activity that you want to do because you want to do it? Incorporate fun in your homeschools: make it a priority.

plan fun with your homeschool kids

9. Above everything, know yourself.

Knowing yourself means you’ll know how to address your needs and your emotions.

I believe self-awareness is built one journal entry at a time. 

What is the benefit of self-awareness?

Naturally, as I’ve been coaching other homeschool mamas, I’ve learned there is a useful approach to learning what we need to learn without booking a session with a coach.

It’s called self-coaching.

And the first step in self-coaching is building self-awareness.

It was that green-locked journal that started me on this life journey. She was my first nurturer & counselor. She was the one who heard my voice and supported me.

I’ve had myriads of journals or notebook “ears” along the way.

My journals helped me process my anger at injustice. They helped me process my hurts toward forgiveness. I processed my grasping toward surrender. They helped me process my confusion toward clarity.

My journals have been a giant tool for me to become more me.

So, I’ve created my own journals to build self-awareness. And I hope they can be useful self-coaching tools for you!

Here are some general journaling suggestions for the homeschool mom…
  • Write your uncomfortable emotions.
  • Just spend time being still and listening.
  • Write your gratitude.
  • Remind yourself of what you’re doing on the planet each day with vision words.
  • Or just take a cue from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project: write just one sentence a day.
  • Just write for twenty minutes. Or five.

journal with kids to plan for your upcoming homeschool year

10. When planning for your upcoming homeschool, you might want to try to deschool in your homeschool.

Deschooling helps you release unhelpful mindsets. I’ve created a variety of resources for you to do that.

11. Or you might want to preplan for potential overwhelm after you’ve begun homeschooling.

(I have a podcast season (& other resources) dedicated just to you.)

I hope these 11 steps have been useful for you. When planning for your upcoming homeschool year, remember this quote by Vincent Van Gogh: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” You got this girlfriend!

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Teresa Wiedrick

I help overwhelmed homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.

Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod