Planning Your Year-at-a-Glance: Homeschool Planning Tip #3

HPT 3 Year at a Glance

Maybe you’re like me and the rush to start planning for the next school year has already faded.

Don’t give up! One thing I continue to learn is that baby steps in the right direction, with the long view leads me not only to my destination but also to a sense of personal satisfaction.

So, let’s jump into the planning tip for today: Get your planner ready now.

This coming school year, I will be using the Ultimate Homeschool Planner. To learn more about this planner, click here.

(Last fall I flirted with buying one of these even while writing all my Bullet Journal posts. A friend of mine picked one up so I was able to see it in person – that makes a huge difference to me when considering any purchase – and I was impressed.)

Cara's Samsung June 8 031

I still believe that just using a Bullet Journal can be best for keeping all your thoughts, plans, and agendas in context – the homeschool mom needs to simplify, right?

This year, I wanted to try something different.

The Ultimate Homschool Planner will allow me to write in so much in advance, and for that I’m grateful. With the new baby about to make her arrival in just a couple weeks, I want to be able to have as many ducks in their rows before life takes a major shift in momentum.

Because no matter how much money I spent on the curricula and resources, they won’t use themselves. I need to make a plan.

Start with a “Homeschool Pause” (see picture above). I listed out what my feelings are, milestones to expect, discipline issues (self included), and challenges and temptations. I will use this list (I’m actually not a big journaler, my thoughts and feelings best come out in lists) to fill in the pages of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.


Next, beginning to fill it in:

  1. Read everything. I know it’s tempting to skip “Introductions” and I’m all about saving time and being efficient (skimming is fine for some intros), but for homeschool resources – I believe it is best to take in the author’s point of view before forming your own. For example, the creator of my planner Debra Bell recommends setting aside a whole day for your first year-in-advance planning. But I’m not going to do that. I see her point for why she recommends it, but I know it doesn’t work for me. Picture this: I ask my husband for a Saturday away to plan for the next year. Said Saturday arrives and I start off by going to my favorite coffee shop. After ordering, sipping, and finding the “best place” to set up my whole shah-bang I realize I’ve wasted an hour. So, I feverishly start to read the introduction while being distracted by the couple at the next table who just started a political conversation. Ugh. This isn’t going to work. I decide to finish my coffee and pack up in order to go to the library where it will be quieter. But….there are just a dozen other distractions at the library. So, in short: #1 I plan best at home, #2 I plan best in short spurts. But I read her suggestion and I’m implementing it in a way that works for me. IMG_4148
  2. Research your state’s requirements for the number of days you will need to account for school. (Read this in depth post on state requirements for homeschooling.) Then in either your planner or Bullet Journal make a spread of the whole year – block out vacations, holidays, and any other known special days. Gage which months will be heavy school months and which ones should be light. Keep in mind how many total days you will need to account for. IMG_4149
  3. Set goals for each student. This goes back to the first post I wrote on why planning now is important versus waiting until August. Ideals, dreams, goals, and the like get cast off in the rush to just get started when running late. The whole August overwhelm takes over and these important things are forgotten in the face of the urgent. So, do it now! Write just a few short and sweet goals for each child. What are their interests? How have they grown or failed to grow this past year that needs your encouragement and focused attention? List 3-5 character goals, and 3-5 academic goals. These may be items that fall on your shoulders in order to see them accomplished. Don’t expect that just writing down “learn to spell” will magically occur for that child without your direct involvement. So, be very careful how many things you list, especially if you have a larger nest. IMG_4150
  4. Family Priorities. Why do you homeschool? What do you want the greatest point of this next year to be? What makes the people who live under the same roof as you different from everyone else in the world? Honor those things and write them down so that you can continue to pray over the list. Use this list when making decisions so that you can have the confidence to say “yes” or “no” to the many options that will come into your family life throughout the coming year. Seasons will come and go – busy, slow, fruitful, hibernation – these priorities will help to keep you emotionally stable as you pass through these changes. 
  5. Write a resource list. Keep an account of everything purchased and intended to be used this year for each child. This is the time to make cuts and additions. If the list is already overwhelming and you haven’t even began your year – cut it out, set it aside or sell it! Don’t pile on more than you can handle. Chances are your children will do a few things well or many things poorly. IMG_4151
  6. Choose a start date. This will be unique to your family. Some school year round, others start on the same date as the public school system in their area. Whatever makes the most sense to you, start with that month and write out that month. Look for potential setbacks and scheduling conflicts now. This will help you again with making commitments.


A few other reasons why I like the Ultimate Homeschool Planner are the Monday Meetings, Weekly Reviews, Weekly Planner, Teaching Tips, Reading Lists, Year in Review, and Record Pages. Setting up a planner is more than just writing out dates in advance, it is a means of accounting for your time.


It all comes down to time management. Whatever helps you to be a wise steward of your time with the responsibilities and talents you have, use that!  

Get your own copy of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner or learn how to use a Bullet Journal for homeschool moms.

Up next in this series: Know Your Teaching Style (How to avoid the vices of homeschool moms.)

Related Posts:

Just jumping into this series? Catch up by reading Tip #1 and Tip #2. Also, note that some links on this site are affiliate links. Thanks!

When can I rest? {7 Lies that Keep Me from Rest}

When can I rest 7 Lies

One of the trickiest variables in learning time management is knowing how to plan for rest.

Balancing rest and work goes deeper than a schedule. Just having time to sleep, eat, and transition doesn’t mean I have achieved adequate rest. And while scheduling and planning are wise, as a mother and more specifically a homeschooling mother, my life is constant activity. I can’t even be guaranteed that my sleep will be restful.

I’ve often said there’s no rest for the weary. And it’s sad but true when living with little people. They require more than their fair share of attention all hours of the day.

And when I’m weary, I’m more likely to fall prey to some pretty powerful lies. Just like the crushing weight of anxiety I battled as a first-time mom, realizing that this motherhood thing is a lot harder and more demanding that I could have imagined, starting a new week of planning and scheduling for my family of 5 can feel like a weight I can’t bear.

Believing and living a lie has the power to keep me in bondage to a system of futile thoughts and actions.

The bondage is circular and affects both my feelings toward work and rest. For example, if I’m working diligently on cleaning the kitchen but a child comes in and spills a whole bowl of cereal then I feel like the “job” of cleaning the kitchen isn’t done and therefore I’m not allowed to rest. I have a wrong expectation that I’m not allowed or I don’t deserve to rest until everything is perfect.

And when my heart is set on being perfect, I’ve set myself up to listen to these 7 lies about rest:

  • Rest has to be earned. When the job is done, then go ahead a rest. But is the “job” of motherhood ever finished at the end of the day or week? There’s no time clock at my house that gives me the green light for rest.
  • The strong don’t need rest. Workaholics aren’t the only ones that struggle with slowing down. It’s that sneaky pride that bites me and says you can do it all!
  • You have to pay for it (costs may be losses in life and position, or monetarily: meaning paying for a vacation, boat, new toy etc.). I don’t know about you, but my budget just doesn’t allow for planning huge dream vacations and yachts. If I’m pining after what isn’t within my means, then I’m not only neglecting rest but I’m also not grateful for the opportunities to enjoy life.
  • It comes only a couple times a year on special occasions. Holidays are nice, but they cannot refresh me enough to last for the next several months. It isn’t right to bottle up the need to rest and expect that I can get out of a holiday what isn’t there to get.
  • It is a reward only for those who are worthy of it. Sometimes I wait for someone to award me some “time off” to go and rest. I live like being accountable to myself for the balance of activity and rest isn’t enough – I’m longing for others to notice me and my efforts which therefore affirms that I’ve done a “good job” and now am worthy to take a break.
  • You’ll look lazy if you make time for rest. This one gets me the most because I have been lazy. I have wasted time and energy which robbed my family of enjoying a home of purpose, passion, and life. Getting my focus tangled up in too much “big picture” and not enough bite size pieces has led me to discouragement before the sun even rises. So this lie is a twisted truth. I do need to make time for rest AND work. Just because I haven’t worked well, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t still make time to rest well.
  • It is a means to more work. When my wheels are always turning, and my toe is tappin’ while I’m supposed to be focused on rest this is believing the lie that my rest only fuels me for more work. Work is then the obvious idol in my life, controlling my thoughts even when I’m not at work.

So what should the focus of my rest be? And when can I have it?