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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Planning for Homeschool Success

4 minutes

Summary

For school planning, I use all of Seton’s resources. I like to know the end goals for each of my students. It helps to keep me on track.

Let me tell you the deep, dark secret of successful homeschools.

Careful planning.

I know, it’s not fancy or stylish. We can’t order it from Amazon and click our troubles away. We must do everything to have a successful homeschool (or anything really). We must be disciplined and careful in approaching our days, and only prudent, prayerful planning can help with that.

“Where there is order, there is harmony; where there is harmony, everything happens in due time; where everything happens in due time, there will be benefit.” – St. Irenaeus of Lyon.

I am, by nature, a planner. I like a schedule and organization. To achieve my goals, I must have a plan broken down into annual, monthly, weekly, and daily objectives, and I must follow the plan to get anything done. I must plan my homeschool, housework, family activities, work obligations, and spiritual life for my days to be ordered correctly. That doesn’t mean I am a slave to a schedule, quite the opposite. Because I build in some “white space,” don’t plan too far in advance, and keep things flexible, having a daily plan provides a lot of freedom because what needs to get done gets done quickly.

How to Plan

I use a Catholic planner because many of our activities revolve around our parish (choir, altar serving, cantors, committees, etc.). I try to create a liturgically aware atmosphere in our homeschool, so having all the feasts and seasons noted in the planner is a time saver for me.

I’ve used secular planners that I have thought useful and pretty, but I have found that my Catholic planner works best for the life I lead. I’ve used The Catholic Daily Planner

(www.catholicdailyplanner.com) for about fifteen years now, and it is where I note down everything I need to remember for our family. The roomy boxes help enormously.

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Another priority is to have a space to sit down and consider all the planning needed. We are blessed to have a home office now, so I have a desk, but for many years a corner of the couch and a basket filled with planners, calendars, and pens were my space.

Sometimes, my space was an hour at the library to have peace and quiet. Whatever works for your life now, give yourself the gift of space and time to be thoughtful. There will be many fruits of this type of planning time.

I begin every month by writing all the fixed things in my planner: karate, music lessons, scout meetings and activities, youth group, choir, and Mass obligations.

On the daily pages, I add in work deadlines, phone calls to make, emails to send, student assignments to keep track of, household chores, errands to run, library deadlines, doctor appointments, etc. Writing this down doesn’t automatically make it happen. I must look at the book a few times a day. Sometimes I set alerts on my phone or Alexa to make sure I get to something on time as a backup plan.

My youngest daughter is the keeper of our online family calendar. She inputs all the information from my planner in addition to her siblings’ travel schedules and plans for houseguests. We all get alerts for those things.

Homeschool Goals

For school planning, I make use of all of Seton’s resources. I like to know the end goals of each grade level for each of my students. It helps to keep me on track.

Fortunately, Seton helps us by posting a scope and sequence for each grade level you enroll in on our My Seton page. Go to your page and click on the grey tab that says “Resources.”

Scroll down that page to the title, Course Resources, and click on that. At the top of that page, there should be a Curriculum Guide (it will say Curriculum Guide for Grade __). Click on that for a PDF of the Scope and Sequence for each of the subjects in this grade. The Scope and Sequence is an overview of everything covered in the course and helps create a vision for your student.

Now divide your year into quarters by picking a starting date and counting nine weeks. That’s your first quarter, count nine more weeks for your second quarter, and so on.

While this schedule is the more traditional school year, it is not the only way to plan your year. Many families prefer to do a six-week on and one week off schedule all year long with longer breaks for holidays.

However you choose to schedule is entirely up to you, and we encourage families to plan the year that best suits their needs. Military families who move often or are subject to a deployed parent have different needs, and the schedule should reflect that.

Our families living outside the United States may wish to schedule things differently based upon cultural or local considerations. We encourage all of that.

Plan for the Unexpected

When it’s time to write out the assignments in the lesson plans, I use a pencil, and I only plan three weeks at a time. This method, I found out the hard way, makes it very easy to adjust when life happens, as life does.

Stomach bugs, house guests, leaky roofs, sick relatives, and new babies all require adjustment to the plan. Mentally prepare for these situations and maybe even schedule a few extra days every quarter just in case.

Once the children are in high school, they use their Seton High School planners to keep track of assignments and have a place to write down social activities, lists, and notes about the day.

We have become a society that keeps track of everything electronically, and that’s fine while it works, but one broken phone is all it takes to create chaos in your life. I am always encouraging my children to use the physical act of writing both in their learning (taking prodigious notes when studying) and in scheduling. It cements the knowledge in your brain more effectively.

Thoughtful people write down their thoughts. It’s something I have always believed to be true.

Summertime is the perfect time for a busy homeschool mom to prayerfully begin the habit of thoughtful planning for her children’s education, the running of her home, and, yes, time to rest and recharge.

Once the plan is out of your head and on the page, you will be pleased with how ordered and happy your homeschooled days will be.

 

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About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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