Little School of Smiths

Homeschool “Planning from Behind”

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It is our final week of summer break before we start the new school year and I am busy doing final prep and planning.

We are entering our 5th year of homeschooling and I have tried a few different ways to plan our homeschool days. However, the past 2 years I have tried the “planning from behind” method and it has worked out amazing! It is SO simple and great for the perks of homeschooling, where everyday is different and can change in an instant.

If you’re overwhelmed with planning for the school year keep in mind you DON’T have to plan the entire year right now. You can plan six weeks in advance, just a few months, or like me, I only plan one month at a time. This helps for when life things come up, appointments, illnesses, spontaneous trips, or we get burnt out and we just need a break for a week.

Planning every subject and having everything written down to do each day stresses me out and pressures my kids to get things done just to get them checked off the list. Planning from behind has allowed me to be more relaxed and flexible, as well as not feeling discouraged from the things we didn’t get to.

**What is the planning from behind method?

Planning from behind is when you write down the lessons you completed each day AFTER you complete them. I basically start the week with a blank planner. At the end of each day I write down all the lessons, activities, and fun things we accomplished.

Almost all our curriculum is open and go, so it’s already planned out for me. We just continue to do the next lesson each day. I write down what lessons we completed and even include things such as videos we watched, puzzles or games we played, outdoor activities, and more, because it is all considered part of learning.

You can use any planner you like to plan from behind, but my favorite so far is the Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planner. My sweet cousin customizes the front and gifts it to me every Christmas. 😊

In my planner I write all our subjects along the top. Down the sides are the days of the week & date. Within each box I will write the lessons we complete for every subject each day. For subjects we don’t all do together, I highlight purple for my daughter and blue for my son. I’m adding my toddler along the side and just making note of some of the fun preschool activities he will be doing. The Pilot Frixion Erasble pens and Pilot Frixion Erasable Highlighters are my favorite for planning! Always go erasable, they are the best!

**How to make sure you’re still on track?

To keep on track throughout the year, create a goal for each week. Look at your curriculum and see how many lessons there are in total. You can figure out how many lessons per week you need to complete based on how many school days/weeks in your school year. For example, our Language Arts and Math curriculums both have 120 lessons. We only have to complete 4 lessons per week to finish in a 37 week school year. This way we are able to only complete a 4 day school week with our core curriculum and still finish the school year on time! 👏🏻

(During winter break, I will also repeat this step to see how many lessons are left for the school year. Sometimes we are ahead and can go down to only 3 lessons per week or sometimes we are behind and need to double up here or there.)

**Planning your weekly schedule for extra subjects.

This year I am trying something new and going to have designated days for our extra subjects, such as science, history, and geography. In the past we have tried to do a loop schedule. It didn’t work for our family, but could be a great option for you. A loop schedule is when you work your way through each subject in a certain order. Once you complete a lesson in one subject you move on to the next on the loop, regardless of what day it is. That way if you have an off day, busy day of appointments, sick kids, or teething babies you aren’t missing any subject and getting behind. Just pick up where you left off on the loop.

This year we are trying set days for subjects. We will be focusing on science Monday’s and Tuesday’s, history on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s, and geography and field trips on Friday’s. Our science/nature curriculum is also open & go and comes with a great daily calendar. Since we are only doing science twice a week, all I have to do is combine some of the daily activities together.

This year we will also be doing a 4 day school week, leaving one day of the week open to catching up if we missed things during the week, completing projects, running errands, or going on field trips.

Me On the Map social studies we will complete every other week on Friday’s.

Here is what my planner looks like at the beginning of the week:

Here is an example (from this past February) of what my planner looks like at the end of the week when I have written down all the lessons and activities we accomplished. *It is amazing to see how much you get done!

**Planning for subjects that are not open and go.

Some subjects we do not have open & go curriculum for, such as history. I’m not using a set curriculum, but creating my own with our American Girl studies this year, so this is the only subject I have to plan for. Check this post HERE on how I plan all of our unit studies in 5 easy steps! I use these steps at the end of the month to prepare for the next.

For the rest of our subjects, all I have to do is collect books from the library or any supplies will need for activities may be planned field trips at the end of each month.

Well that was a long blog post about planning when it is very simple and not much planning at all. Haha! I hope it was helpful, encouraging, and takes a little stress away from homeschool planning for all of you.

Homeschool planning is one of my favorite things to so, but it can become overwhelming. Remember that as much as you plan, it’s not set in stone and you’ll figure it out as you go. You can ALWAYS change things that aren’t working or figure out a different schedule that works best.

To see all of our curriculum choices for this coming school year check out my blog post HERE.

Happy Planning & best wishes on a great school year!!

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