Get smart about how you prepare for a successful homeschool week.
With these simple ideas and tips, you'll only need a bit of time and planning to make learning at home enjoyable for all 🙂
That Time I Decided I Didn't Need to Prep for Our Homeschool Week
There is one thing that I swear that I will NEVER give up in our homeschool.
I will stay up late and even put off catching up on my most recent Netflix obsession.
After one disastrous start to a homeschool week a few years ago, I made a solemn vow to myself to never skip this simple practice.
Weekly homeschool prep.
I tried planning out our entire homeschool year in one sitting. That did NOT work for us. I'd get so stressed out if we "got behind" my plans.
Ditto for planning by the month. Surprise activities, appointments, or needing to work on a concept a bit longer would put me into a tailspin.
So, I started planning our homeschool by the week with an overall idea of what we needed to get done each month and year. Planning by the week felt like so much less pressure.
To pull it off, I discovered that taking one day (or night) to plan and prep helped me get it together and follow through with our plans. And it actually worked!
Until that one time when I got a bit cocky and lazy...I was tired and figured that our homeschool routine would do the work for us.
Oh my stars! I was SO very wrong. Because as much as our relaxed homeschool routine helps us thrive, my weekly homeschool prep is the key to our success.
I didn't realize how much it helped me get a better picture of where we actually were in our homeschool subjects (plus, put aside items for our homeschool portfolios).
AND how much it helped me make a realistic plan for our upcoming week based on our ever-changing schedule.
To sum up what happened when I failed to prep for the week, our homeschool morning time that Monday was a trainwreck. It took me forever to figure out what needed to get done and where to start. So much time was wasted!
The boys got distracted and cranky. I got distracted and cranky. And when a reminder popped up on my phone about an appointment scheduled for later that day, I freaked out. I turned into a shrieking spazz trying to cram in a bunch of work.
My boys looked at me like I had lost my mind. To be honest, it felt like I did. I was a hot mess express. And that's not a great place to be 😉
Instead of ignoring that feeling, I held onto it as a reminder of why prep time is so important to our family having a successful homeschool week.
Why You Need to Make Time to Prep for a Successful Homeschool Week
I know how easy it is to feel like you don't have time for weekly homeschool prep (or to even take a shower!). Please believe me when I say that weekly planning and preparation don't have to take long - and it gets easier the more you do it.
Setting aside 15-30 minutes (depending on how many kids you're homeschooling, your schedule, and if you've done this type of activity before) is really all you need and it will help you:
- Save time
- Save energy
- Get a clear picture of what your homeschool week will look like
- Determine where you might need to build in buffer room (extra time before and after appointments, activities, etc.)
- Prep the appropriate materials (so you have that library book required for your unit study)
- Know you're doing enough (because when you're in the middle of the hustle and bustle, it can feel like you aren't getting anything done when in reality, you truly are!)
- Record completed work and days (or hours, depending on the homeschool laws in your state)
- Make sure you set aside time for much-needed self-care (grab this list of 101 ideas so you never have an excuse!)
- Include all those cool extras, like fun days and projects
7 Simple & Smart Ways to Prep for a Successful Homeschool Week
To get the most out of your homeschool week prep time, I suggest these 7 activities. These tips are based on my experience of preparing for a successful homeschool week with 5 boys.
Play around with these ideas and tweak to make them work for you 🙂
1. Pick a day (or evening)
Taking a realistic look at your schedule, what day or night would be best? A time when you can sit without distractions. If at all possible, pick a time of the week that you can consistently do your prep work.
For example, I find that Sunday evenings work best for me. I've had a break from homeschooling and feel refreshed for a new week.
2. Review the prior homeschool week
If you use a homeschool planner, take it out and look at what actually got done the last week that you were homeschooling. You may also want to take out your kids' notebooks, workbooks, and other homeschool materials to check.
When you do this step, please don't get upset if everything didn't get done. It is what it is. Focus on what was accomplished and progress made. Homeschooling affords us tremendous freedom to spend extra time on a subject or jump down rabbit holes to explore interests 😉
3. Take a realistic look at your upcoming week
Seems like a no-brainer, huh? But, if you're like me when it comes to planning, you get excited about all the possibilities. And a bit forgetful in just how long a subject or appointment actually takes.
So, if you have Story Time at the library on Tuesday afternoons, you'll want to block off enough time to enjoy it. Or maybe an older child has late-night soccer practices on Thursdays so you know it's best to push back the start of your homeschool day on Fridays until 10 or so.
Remember: It's your homeschool and you can tweak it to make it work for you. No need to try to squeeze into a cookie cutter or try to replicate another family's schedule!
4. Prioritize for a successful homeschool week
After realistically looking at your week, break it down even further by asking what is:
- Required - has a due date, like for homeschool co-op or portfolio evaluation
- Would like to - material or activities that would help you move towards your goal of completing a subject or unit study
- Fun extras - things that you'd love to enjoy with your kids this week, if the required and "would like to" work gets done
That's how I break down our homeschool week. If your kids participate in a homeschool co-op, online class, or cottage school, you might need to change up your approach.
A surprising way that our relaxed/eclectic homeschool thrives is with a checklist. Instead of adding pressure or stress, a checklist helps all of us chill because we can easily see what needs to be done. A checklist empowers us because we know we're doing enough AND can still have time for fun.
*I use the planning and checklist forms in our free weekly planner pages with a pretty rainbow theme 🙂
6. Prep materials
Go through your homeschool curriculum and make sure it's ready for the week. You may want to use bookmarks or sticky notes to mark and easily find your place.
Do your kids need any library books or other resources not commonly found in your homeschool area? Make a plan to pick up the materials (or find them on random bookshelves or baskets around your home).
Check your homeschool art supplies, especially if you have a special project to work on this week.
If you include educational videos in your homeschool, make a playlist or bookmark for easy reference.
Oh, and don't forget to make copies of worksheets or print out materials!
Now that you have your overall plan and materials, it's time to get it all organized.
What type of space do you have available in your homeschool area? Declutter shelves, baskets, and rolling carts to make room for your resources for a successful homeschool week.
Here's an extra special way to wrap up your prep for a successful homeschool week: Set an intention for your week.
An intention is a simple word, phrase, or statement that you hold with energy, love, and focus. It's a powerful way to add positivity and a growth mindset to homeschooling.
Determine what it is that you would like to focus on during the upcoming week. You can have an intention for yourself (like patience) and an intention for your homeschool. You may even decide to have an intention for each of your kids.
For example, my intention for our homeschool week is Focus. It's a busy time of year so I want to make sure that I am focused on the present (and not worrying about all there is to do), focused on making the most of our time together, and focused on making time for self-care (so I can feel refreshed and energized).
Pick an intention and write it down on an index card or sticky note. Place it in your homeschool area or in your planner. Use that intention to keep you motivated and on track this homeschool week.
When you follow these steps to plan and prep, you will enjoy a successful homeschool week. Tweak the process to make it work for you and reap the benefits of time well spent 🙂
Do you have any questions or tips that you'd like to add to these suggestions?
Please let me know in the comments area below!