How to Choose an Online Homeschool Planner

One thing that I know homeschool moms struggle with is planning and getting organized. I’m a weirdo that enjoys writing lessons plans and organizing supplies and all that. I know not everyone feels that way.  I’m also a fan of keeping things as simple as I can and getting the most for my time and money. I imagine that many of you feel the same way. I know first hand how important this is for single homeschooling moms as well.

Are you looking for a way to organize your school year and lesson plans? Here are 4 things that I look for in an online homeschool planner.

This post is sponsored by Homeschool Planet

Things I look for in an Online Homeschool Planner

1. Works for Multiple Age Planning

I’m a huge fan of multi-age curriculum for families of 2 or more. It’s a great way to teach subjects together and also to save money on curriculum over the years. When I’m looking for a planner I need something that works for all of my children. I don’t want to have to buy a new planner for each child.

I really prefer to save lesson plans so that I can pull them back out for a younger sibling. It’s nice not to have to start from scratch every time that you study Westward Expansion with a child. If I can just pull out an old planner and see what activities or books were used that saves me a little time and patience.

Having all of our plans in one place also helps me create student checklists for my children as they get older. It’s my goal for my boys to become independent learners. An important part of that is being responsible for their own work.

2. Plan the entire year

Remember how I said I LOVE planning? When I sit down to work on lesson plans I typically plan for an entire school year. It’s a lot of time on the front end but it really saves me time in the long run.

For year long planning I need something that will allow me to plan but also give me some flexibility. I don’t put dates on my lesson plans and I don’t plan every single subject. Subjects like math, reading and spelling I fill in as we go along. I let my boys work at their own pace and it’s easier to just fill in what we did that week instead of trying to predict how fast (or slow) they are going to work.

Being able to edit my plans without having to start over is a sanity saver. If we get sick or end up on a rabbit trail I like being able to just move assignments around. Having a place to keep supply lists, project ideas and field trips is also super helpful.

3. Keep dad in the loop

Sharing a calendar or lesson plans is a great way to keep dad in the loop. As a single mom it’s important that dad knows (or at least has the option of knowing) what the kids are working on during the week. This can be a big help when dad isn’t so sure about homeschooling.

If you are married it can also be a great way to keep the Principal updated on the student’s progress. Maybe there’s a topic coming up that Dad is really passionate about. He can maybe work with the kids when he is home or plan to take a day off for field trips and special projects.

4. Maintaining a Homeschool Portfolio

In our state, we have the option of keeping a homeschool portfolio or standardized testing each year. I prefer the option of keeping a portfolio. Having a really good homeschool planner is a great way to get a jump on a portfolio.

It helps me to keep track of the different activities and topics that we are studying. This way I can remember to take a picture for our portfolio when we go on a field trip. Or have a plan of what activities or notebooking pages I want to include throughout the year. And if I end up waiting until the last minute I have a good record of what we have done so I’m not depending on my memory to recreate the year.

Homeschool Planet meets every single one of my requirements. Here’s a short video with a fantastic overview of how the online homeschool planning software works:

You can find out more about Homeschool Planet on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and YouTube.

Want to try this out for yourself? Be sure to sign up for the free 30 day trial. I dare you not to fall in love with it!

Making Year Round Homeschooling Work for My Family

When I first started homeschooling I followed the local public school calendar. I didn’t really have a good reason for doing so or not doing so. It’s just want seemed to make sense at the time. The first (and only) year that we followed this schedule I was really stressed out. I would get worried about falling behind or not having enough to do.

I really didn’t like feeling that way for an entire school year so I started asking around to see what other people were doing. I really wanted to be able to work at our own pace and take breaks when we needed/wanted to. Year long homeschooling seemed like it would be a good fit.

There are many different options for homeschool schedules. It's really important to find one that works for your family. Come see why I made the switch to year round homeschooling and what that looks like.

Making Year Round Homeschooling Work for My Family

What does our schedule look like?

When people hear that we homeschool year round they usually look a little confused. Often they assume that we never take breaks. The truth is that we actual take lots of breaks during the year.

I follow Charlotte Mason’s concept of terms. Each term is 12 weeks long. I plan for 3 terms each school year. This leaves us with 16 weeks to play with. Along with our terms I also follow what some people call “sabbath homeschooling”. For us that means that we take every 7th week off.

This works out to a week off in the middle and at the end of each term. The remain 10 weeks I scatter throughout the year for vacations, conferences, and mental health breaks. The thing that I really love about this schedule is that it really helps to avoid homeschool burnout. Knowing that we have a break coming up helps us to push through sometimes.

If you are a single homeschooling parent, year round homeschooling will give you flexibility for visitations as well. It’s easy for me to move things around when my ex asks for the boys because I know there will be time to catch up on anything we don’t get to.

What does summer look like?

People are often curious about what our summers look like. We often take off from Memorial Day until Mid July. For us that’s the time of year where it gets way too hot to be outside (they don’t call FL the sunshine state for nothing). So I opt to get started on work and we take another break in the fall once things cool off for a bit.

We don’t completely stop academics over the summer either. My boys continue to read daily and we also work on math (mostly with games and reviewing facts). This keeps them from losing all that they’ve worked hard to learn during the school year and we also don’t have to spend the first part of the year reviewing or relearning.

We also will do lots of messy projects that we maybe didn’t get to during the school year. Mostly we do what everyone else does on summer vacation: relax and have fun!

If you’d like to hear more thoughts on Homeschool Scheduling be sure to check out this hangout I did with Bright Ideas Press.


Why Homeschooling is Great for Single Moms

I knew when I made the decision to homeschool my boys that I was going against the grain. No one in my family had ever homeschooled before. Many of my family members where public school teachers and educators.  When it was clear that I was going to be a single mom everyone just knew that homeschooling was out of the question.

It wasn’t out of the question.

I felt strongly that God was calling me to homeschool my children. I knew that it sounded crazy but I had to answer that call.  Yes there have been times when I wondered how I would afford it. And there have been times when I wanted to quit. But I can truly say that it’s been the best decision I’ve made in the last 5 years.

Homeschooling as a single mom or single dad can be a struggle. It requires you to stretch yourself and think outside the box, but it's not impossible. In fact, homeschooling can actually be a good option for single parents. Come read 4 reasons why.

Why Single Parent Homeschooling is a Good Option

Stability for your children

Homeschooling as a single parent can offer your children some much needed stability. If you have already been homeschooling before your divorce or the death of your spouse being able to homeschool can be a blessing. Children deal with so much when a parent leaves that it’s really best to keep any other big changes to a minimum.

When my husband first left my boys were young but it was still an adjustment for them. As they grew older and started to ask questions and really grasp what was going on they found comfort in the stability of homeschooling.  When their entire world was turned upside down it was one of the few things that remained constant.

Time to heal and move forward

Adjusting to life as a single parent takes time. You need time to get through the often lengthy divorce proceedings, to adjust to life as a single mom, and to help your children as they process things.  This is something that really cannot and should not be rushed.

Being able to keep my children home and take time off from academics to grieve and  just be is a blessing. There’s no pressure to put on a good face as you drop your children off from school. Your children can be spared the stress of trying to focus on schoolwork when their hearts are breaking.

More flexible visitation with dad

This is one that I hadn’t really thought about in the beginning of my journey as a single mom. Homeschooling really has allowed my boys to have more time to spend with their dad. He doesn’t have to wait for them to get out of school and deal with homework before spending time with them. We are often done with school by lunch time so they can have the entire afternoon to hang out with dad. Or I can just “cancel” school for the day which gives them more time together.

Family unity

I love that I get to spend so much time with my boys every single day.  I enjoy their company so much more than I ever thought I would.  Homeschooling and living life together has really helped us to unify as a family. We spend time in the Word each day, we help each other around the house and really focus on the family relationships.

Those are just a few reasons that I think that homeschooling is a great option for single parents. You may have to get creative, think outside the box and stretch yourself beyond your limits but it can be done. And you and your children will be blessed so much by your efforts.

What about you? Why did you decide to homeschool?

Some of my sisters at iHomeschool Network are sharing why their families have chosen to homeschool. Head on over to read more! WhyWeChose