Preparing to Homeschool

by | Jul 27, 2018 | Homeschool Planning & Prep

Last Updated Feb 6, 2024
Preparing to Prep Your first Homeschool Year

Preparing to homeschool can feel completely overwhelming the first time around! Using my simple 5 step process, you can skip that feeling of overwhelm and prep for your homeschool year like a pro!

Time to Homeschool

A new homeschool year is on the horizon, and if it’s your first homeschool year, I know all too well how overwhelming that can feel, you guys!

With that said, thinking about all the little things you need to accomplish before the start of your homeschool year can quickly consume you and create a huge sense of anxiety if you take off without a plan.

So, if you are preparing to homeschool but aren’t quite sure where to start, I’ve totally got you!

Find the Right Curriculum When Preparing to Homeschool

Homeschool veterans and newbies alike all struggle with the realization that a new homeschool year means new subjects, curricula, plans, homeschool schedules, routines, and experiences.

However, with a little trial and error, you can easily create a new normal that totally works!

Preparing to Homeschool in 5 Easy Steps

If figuring out that new plan feels completely overwhelming to you, this simple 5-step process can help.

So take a moment, breathe deep, and relax.

You’ve got this momma!

Preparing to Homeschool in 5 Easy Steps

First, you need to know that I function at my absolute best with a plan in hand and a visual aid.

If you thrive in a similar setting, then this 5-step planning process will be right down your alley from the get-go!

With that said, if you aren’t much of a planner or you simply aren’t sure what type of planner you are, this process might seem a bit over the top at first.

If that’s you, I still totally encourage you to give this method a try and tweak what doesn’t work along the way!

Second, this process works!

When I take the time to brainstorm, plan, and organize, things simply go better in our homeschool.

However, when I slack, place things on the back burner, or procrastinate, things tend to go downhill fast.

Ready to dive in? Check out the 5 essential steps I follow every single year when preparing to homeschool my own kiddos!

Step #1 – Picking the Right Curriculum

I didn’t even beat around the bush with this one — I’m diving right into the nitty gritty, you guys!

Why? Well, because picking the wrong curriculum is one of the biggest mistakes a homeschooler can make.

Picking the right curriculum, however, is essential.

How to Pick Homeschool Curriculum

That said, finding that perfect curriculum fit when preparing to homeschool for the first time can be downright scary or overwhelming, so listen up!

First, I just want to say, that there is no right or wrong, best or worst, mold fitting, perfect fit for everyone type of curriculum.

Just because something works for other homeschool families, does not mean it will work for yours — plan and simple!

Plus, what might be a perfect fit for one of your children, may not work for the rest.

I’ve got to be completely honest here, you guys. Finding the right curriculum can be a huge challenge!

That’s why it’s incredibly important that you prepare yourself for the possibility of a difficult road ahead by reminding yourself not to give up.

It may take trying 10 different types of curricula before finding the one.

Or, you may get lucky and love the first thing you try!

It truly can go either way, you guys!

All that said, the true key to finding the right curriculum for your children is to remember not to be afraid to try new things, to be willing to let go of the stuff that just simply doesn’t work, and to never, ever give up.

  • Finding Our Curriculum Fit

Long before homeschooling entered the picture, my boys were enrolled in a private Christian school where their curriculum was picked for them.

Then, when my oldest was entering the 6th grade and we began our learning at home journey, we leaned on online public schooling where again their curriculum was picked for them.

Eventually, we left the K12 program and true homeschooling became our reality.

The Good and The Beautiful Level 2 Math Curriculum

After leaving virtual school I did a ton of research before settling on a curriculum for my kiddos.

The first language arts program we tried was an immediate perfect fit for all 3 of my kiddos!

The math program I had settled on for my older boys, however, was not.

It took trying 3 different pre-algebra curriculums before I finally found a math program that both my boys loved and thrived on!

With that said, we have also struggled to find the right fit for our secondary subjects such as science, geography, and history. We had to try multiple different options for each of these subjects before finding our true fits.

The biggest advice I give to new homeschoolers when it comes to finding a curriculum they love is to research, research, research!

First, browse all the curricula options you possibly can online and in stores.

Second, ask other homeschool parents what they use, read reviews, and pray!

Third, Don’t ever settle! Look over your curriculum choices again and again until you find the one that just keeps standing out to you.

Finally, take the plunge and try it out. Then, if it doesn’t work, simply refer to step one and do it all over again!

While it’s not a perfect method, it truly does get the job done, you guys!

Step #2 – Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

Once your curriculum has been chosen it’s time to set some goals and expectations for the upcoming school year.

Now, this can be super difficult if you get excited about a new curriculum like I do.

I tend to get these unrealistic ideas in my head that we can go through 32 different courses in a single semester, haha!

I’m just a book junkie, you guys!

Setting Goals for Your Homeschool

With that said, I can usually take some time to look over our new curriculum and set myself straight.

It’s super important to think about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a child behind on math because you switched curriculum mid-year (it’s ok, I’ve been there too!) starting the year out on an accelerated schedule might be a great option for catching up!

However, if your child regularly struggles with math, a year-round homeschool schedule that offers a slower pace and the ability to school over the summer might be in order.

We have frequently taken both routes in our homeschool.

My top advice when it comes to setting goals in your homeschool is to assess your children’s individual needs!

Take some time to really sit down and think about each of your children individually and assess their specific needs.

Are they not challenged enough and need to go up a level in their language arts course? Or are they struggling to keep up and need a slower-paced homeschool schedule?

Once you’ve evaluated, it’s time to set some realistic goals and officially start the homeschool planning process!

 

Step #3 – Plan Everything Out in Advance

My absolute favorite part of every life event is the planning!

Ok, so maybe this isn’t necessarily every homeschool mom’s dream, but I absolutely love this part, you guys!

Planning is something I’m pretty decent at and I thoroughly enjoy the process every single time.

That said, for every good plan, you need to start with the basics.

Good old-fashioned pen and paper are always my immediate go-to.

Once your curriculum has arrived and your goals and expectations have been noted, you will officially be ready to begin planning your new homeschool year.

Simple Tips for Prepping Your Homeschool Year

First, separate all homeschool curriculum into piles.

Sorting by child or subject is typically best (I tend to sort by child since my kids’ ages vary greatly and their subjects don’t always line up).

Second, get to know your children’s curriculum. Take your time and read through the introductions, parent notes, and how-to-use sections.

Next, skim through some lessons to get a realistic view of how quickly or easily your child might be able to complete the course.

This is also a great time for your children to take any intro level assessments if there are any (this will help you gauge the difficulty level of the course, as well as if they need to be on an accelerated or more paced out schedule).

Last, take notes along the way.

Brainstorm ideas, curriculum aides, supplementals, and possibly even create makeshift schedules for each child to give yourself a better idea of what needs to happen in your upcoming homeschool year.

Step #4 – Create Pacing Guides and Schedules

When it comes to preparing to homeschool, this can definitely be one of the hardest (and most time-consuming) parts.

We are currently in our 4th year of homeschooling, and I must say I have probably been through 30 different schedule changes since the beginning!

Some have been minor tweaks, while others have been a total overhaul.

That said, don’t be afraid to switch up your homeschool schedule over and over again.

Printable Pacing Guides & Homeschool Schedules

When it comes to creating my homeschool schedule and pacing guides, I typically start the process by going over all my previous notes and brainstorming sessions.

Then, once I have a doable rough draft in place I create a finalized homeschool schedule.

Finally, I follow that up with weekly lesson planning sessions and log all of our to-dos for the week in my homeschool planner.

  • Alternative Homeschool Routines

While we originally homeschooled 5 days a week and followed the traditional school year, we decided to mix things up this year by homeschooling 3 days a week instead.

Planning a 3 Day School Week

Keeping this kind of schedule allows us to take Wednesdays off for out-of-the-home science classes and errands.

Plus, it gives me every Friday to relax and catch up on things around the house.

While it may sound selfish or even a little bit irresponsible at first, this schedule has been a true blessing to our family, you guys!

Thankfully, will still finish most of our core subjects in April or May, leaving us with only a couple of things to finish off over the summer months.

All that said, there are so many other alternative homeschool routines to consider when preparing to homeschool!

You can try year-round homeschooling or even roadschooling!

Step #5 – Organize Everything

When it comes to preparing to homeschool, this is what I consider the finish line, you guys!

While it may sound like a daunting task, homeschool organization is essential for a successful homeschool year.

You could spend a full 2 weeks brainstorming, list making, purchasing the perfect curriculum, and creating the most beautiful schedule man has ever seen, but still have a stressful, overwhelming, and unsuccessful school year.

To put your plan into action and see the results you want, organization is key!

Homeschool Organization Curriculum Baskets

With that said, getting organized can be a pretty hefty task if you don’t know where to begin.

I remember my first year of homeschooling like it was yesterday.

The K12 boxes came and I sat in my living room staring at these stacks of books and manipulative items trying to come up with some sort of plan, it was completely overwhelming, you guys!

If you’re new to the homeschool world, just take a moment and breathe!

Getting organized doesn’t have to be that stressful.

  • Simple Homeschool Organization

Once your curriculum is purchased, your plan is in place, and the schedules have been created, it’s time to finish your preparing to homeschool journey with some much-needed organization.

Remember all that curriculum you pulled out, piled up, and skimmed through during the homeschool planning process? Get it all out again!

This time you are going to sort through all your curriculum to see what can be prepped ahead of time.

If things need to be punched out, ripped out, or stapled together, there is no time like the present!

This is also a great time to create supplies needed lists for upcoming experiments and projects.

Trust me, you will be thankful you did all this prep work when lesson time comes around.

Then, tackle any other curriculum extras such as flashcards, manipulatives, or readers that your children will be using all year long.

Organizing School Supplies is a Must

Once you’ve spent some time prepping curriculum aides and extras, you can begin prepping everything else.

Now keep in mind, that you don’t need to prep for months in advance (unless you want to).

I tend to prep 6-12 weeks of lessons at a time.

However, I’ve also been known to plan out a semester at a time, or our entire school year at once using our handy file folder system.

Preparing to Homeschool Your First Year

If you are a brand new homeschool parent who is preparing to homeschool for the very first time, I encourage you to check some of these additional resources!

First, head over to the homeschool mom helps section and the homeschool planning page on the Life + Homeschool blog.

Then, consider joining our Facebook group for added support!

Preparing to Homeschool

Meet the Author

Life & Homeschool Author

Hey guys! I’m Mary, homeschool mom of 3 amazing kiddos.

I’m so excited that you decided to check out my little corner of the world!

If you have been following our journey for any length of time, you already know that I’m obsessed with coffee, organization, and all things simple.

I’m also a huge dog lover and introvert 💗

My homeschool style is very eclectic.

I enjoy a solid mixture of structure and free range. I set goals for myself and my children each week, but I put no pressure on perfection.

We use a wide variety of curriculum in our home.

Some of our current favorites are The Good and the Beautiful, Life of Fred, Beautiful Feet Books, and Lifepac.

While my kids do spend a good amount of time learning at desks, they also spend countless hours exploring their creativity and practicing a little independence.

I love mountains, rainy days, and sitting by the campfire. 

Our family recently relocated to the PNW and we have been enjoying finding new nature spots to explore together 🙌🏼

I can’t wait to connect and share all the things I’ve learned on our new journey! 

Just a Note…

Thanks for checking out the homeschool planning & prep portion of the blog! 

I am a huge planner and thrive with a to do list or schedule in my hand! If you have recently embarked on the journey of preparing to homeschool your own kiddos, this section has all the helps you need to get started!

I hope you found this article helpful and come back to visit us again soon!

Want to connect on social media?

You can find all of our social accounts below!

FacebookInstagramPinterest

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook group too!

This group is open to all homeschool moms.

Whether you are already knee-deep in your homeschool journey or just dipping your toes in — all homeschool moms are welcome!

Looking forward to connecting! Simply Be Wild & Free Life + Homeschool Blog

Year-Round Homeschool Schedules

3 simple ways to homeschool year-round!

Year-Round Homeschool Schedules

Homeschool Planning Tips

Simple homeschool planning tips for a smoother week.

Homeschool Planning Tips

Printable Homeschool Schedule

Creating a homeschool plan that works for you!

Printable Homeschool Schedule

Printable Supply List

Free printable supply list for lesson planning.

Printable Supply List

Follow us on Social Media

Connect with our brand on social media and join our homeschool group on Facebook!

Pinterest

Facebook

Instagram

Facebook Group

Meet the Author

Life & Homeschool Author

Hey guys! I’m Mary, homeschool mom of 3 amazing kiddos.

I’m so excited that you decided to check out my little corner of the world!

If you have been following our journey for any length of time, you already know that I’m obsessed with coffee, organization, and all things simple.

I’m also a huge dog lover and introvert 💗

My homeschool style is very eclectic.

I enjoy a solid mixture of structure and free range. I set goals for myself and my children each week, but I put no pressure on perfection.

We use a wide variety of curriculum in our home.

Some of our current favorites are The Good and the Beautiful, Life of Fred, Beautiful Feet Books, and Lifepac.

While my kids do spend a good amount of time learning at desks, they also spend countless hours exploring their creativity and practicing a little independence.

I love mountains, rainy days, and sitting by the campfire. 

Our family recently relocated to the PNW and we have been enjoying finding new nature spots to explore together 🙌🏼

I can’t wait to connect and share all the things I’ve learned on our new journey! 

Just a Note…

Thanks for checking out the homeschool planning & prep portion of the blog! 

I am a huge planner and thrive with a to do list or schedule in my hand! If you have recently embarked on the journey of preparing to homeschool your own kiddos, this section has all the helps you need to get started!

I hope you found this article helpful and come back to visit us again soon!

Want to connect on social media?

You can find all of our social accounts below!

FacebookInstagramPinterest

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook group too!

This group is open to all homeschool moms.

Whether you are already knee-deep in your homeschool journey or just dipping your toes in — all homeschool moms are welcome!

Looking forward to connecting! Simply Be Wild & Free Life + Homeschool Blog

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