Do the Next Thing (my minimalist homeschool planning)
I’ve been thinking about homeschool planning a lot lately. I’ve had the opportunity to review both paper & digital homeschool planning tools recently, and my newsfeed & inbox have also been filled with homeschool planning posts, products, and courses. Some of these resources look great when I’ve looked into them — I like the idea of having specific, measurable goals, and ideals. Have I been missing out or messing up?
But here’s the thing — my home is not an institution. It’s a living organism. We don’t “start” or “finish” a homeschool year, whether that be a calendar year or traditional school year. When we finish a level of Math, we move on to the next. Eight chapters may take us eight weeks, but it could take us 7 or even 10, so why bother trying to figure out what chapter we will be working on in six months? And I don’ t plan out a whole year’s worth of outside the home activities or vacation days all at once. If grandma calls and says she’s going to be flying from the other side of the country to spend a week with us next month, then we’re just going to take a week off. I really love our flexibility.
But still, all those pretty resources and blog posts had me questioning my level of organization. And a Facebook post and its subsequent discussion had me questioning if I was doing something wrong. The common thought being shared with the hesitant new homeschooler in this particular exchange was this: No, you don’t have to be super organized to homeschool, you can just be an unschooler instead.
Wait a minute, WHAT? Are there no super organized, type A unschooling mamas? If I’m going to give my children a classical education, do I need to keep a schedule and follow extensive lesson plans? What on earth do personality types and personal preferences have to do with educational philosophy anyway?
This crazy rabbit trail I went on last week, while initially causing me to feel stressed and to question the quality of education and environment I’m giving my children, has actually liberated me.
Productivity, efficiency, and busyness have become some kind of all important ideal to us in our culture, and this super organized homeschool mom? I’m just not her. If you are, that’s great! If what you are doing is helpful to you, then by all means continue! But the idea of tracking every moment of my day, counting the hours we spend in each subject area, and even choosing a year’s worth of reading materials sounds like shackles to me!
I am not disorganized. I am free and organic. You may prefer to call it “flying by the seat of my pants” but so be it.
Most of the creators of these impressive organizational tools are former teachers — the level of organization and structure they feel necessary to incorporate into their homeschools may a remnant of their classroom training and school mindset. Or maybe they have a Type A personality and thrive on a tight ship. So if they want to catalogue and Dewey decimalize every book in their house, more power to them!
Although I’m not a very experienced homeschool mother who has graduated children, I have been at this several years and what I am doing is working for our family. Will this always be the case? Probably not — but I’m flexible, and I trust that if I need to adapt in the future, by God’s grace I can and will.
And just because we aren’t on the super organized, rigid end of the spectrum doesn’t mean that we are without discipline, hard work, ideals, or routines.
I do have a homeschool plan, and it is simply this: Do the next thing.
- When a chapter or unit is finished, we do the next.
- When a course of study is complete, we do something else.
- When one read aloud is done, we pick another.
- If a spelling, phonics, or math lesson takes one day or five, well then, that’s just how long it takes.
- If we finish Ancient History in April, then we start Medieval in May.
Just as all growth in life, it is a continuous process. It does not begin in September or January and end in June or December.
My most valuable homeschool organization tool? A bookmark, scrap piece of paper, or post-it note that is slowly progressing through our book, showing us where we left off last time, and where to begin today.
What are we going to be doing tomorrow? We are going to do the next thing — unless of course, we get a phone call from some friends who want to meet at the park — no need to worry that we will mess up a whole term’s worth of plans!
Thanks for listening to the ramblings of a non type-A, somewhat rebellious homeschooling mama!