Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Do You...Plan a New School Year? {Part 1} 

{The links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, but opinions are always my own.}

How do you plan what you want to teach and learn in a new school year?

In the original run of this series in 2012, I answered a similar question.  Click here to see how my school decisions are easier after an annual 20-minute conversation with my kids.

This time I'm going to focus on the more nitty-gritty aspect of planning.  I am in the throes of planning for our school year that begins in August.  Someone asked me recently how I decide what to teach each year since we do not follow a prescribed curriculum. Our learning is very book-heavy.  We don't use many textbooks, but the majority of our resources are the scads of books that we own or borrow from friends and the library.

So how do I choose and narrow down what we read or study each year? 

Often I go on a whim. If one of my children expresses an interest in a topic, I explore the option of making it count for school credit. A few years ago Gavin started asking lots of questions about the planets so I chose astronomy as our science topic for the following school year.  The next year we devoted to learning about mammals because that is Maddie's special interest.  We used The Burgess Animal Book for Children and it fits our needs so well that this year we are focusing on North American birds using The Burgess Bird Book.

I follow the same process for art and music.  If my mom raves about a book she used or I read about a product on a homeschool blog that piques my interest, I look into it for our family.  This year, I decided my Lego-obsessed boys would probably benefit from the study of architecture, and when a fellow-blogger recommended Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life and Ideas (with 21 Activites), I made that my jumping off point and I planned our art credit around other architecture books I could find at the library.

Our study of history is a bit more pre-determined.  We are slowly studying history in chronological order.  We began with Creation two years ago and have worked our way up to the time of Christopher Columbus.  We have used a combination of resources: The Mystery of History, Streams of Civilization, Genevieve Foster books, literature set during the era, and a book list I compiled from what was available from my library. With history, the topic of study does not deviate but the way we chose to study it is always open to change.

Next Wednesday, I'll share how I find (and remember!) all the unique and unusual books we use to fuel our eclectic homeschool days.

How do
you prepare, think, and plan for a new school year?


My How Do You...? series is back for only a few more weeks.  Is there anything you want to know?  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page or send me an e-mail.  I'd love to hear from you.

In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.


  1. We're also pretty eclectic, piecing together our "curriculum" from topics we're interested in and recommendations from others. Sometimes it feels like a box curriculum would be easier, but I know I would end up tweaking it to fit our needs anyway :)

    This year for Science and History we're using two DVD series as our foundation and adding in books from the library and simple activities. For Reading and Art we're following along with workbooks. I also picked up 1st and 2nd grade workbooks for math. I'm looking through them to see if we can just follow along or if I need to look for something else. For Music and Health we're using main texts as our guides.

    Planning each subject is a bit daunting, but it makes it a better fit for our family which makes for a smoother overall homeschool experience.

    1. I feel the same way. Sometimes I want to get a box curriculum and be done with it! But I know I wouldn't be content to follow every guideline set out by someone else and the families I know who have used box curriculum are often overwhelmed by all the requirements. I'm glad you mentioned math. I avoid talking about math most of the time because our choices for elementary math are a little unconventional.

    2. I always feel a little uncertain about math. I really just want the kids to have a good base of understanding, but never feel really certain about how to do that.

      We also do a lot of everyday math without even realizing it. Cooking, baking, and building are great for this and our 3 oldest already have a general knowledge of money and fractions--just ask them how to divide the last cookie fairly :) But I'd love to hear more about what you've done for math and what you've found that has worked best for your kids.

  2. If you're going to study Frank Lloyd Wright, you might want to check out Blue Balliett's The Wright 3, if you haven't already. It has enough jumping off points into math, art, geography, and literature to keep you busy for a while.

    1. Thanks for the the suggestion! I'm putting it on hold now!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...