Last time I posted about a revisit on writing a homeschool “vision” or overall philosophy for your homeschool. Today I want to talk about long-term goal planning. This is different than your vision in a number of ways. You might think of your homeschool vision as your mission statement or overall guide. Any time I write goals or plan lessons or decide what classes to teach in my homeschool I try to think about whether they are a means to the end that my husband and I have in mind. Long-term goals, while still very broad, will be somewhat more specific.
We’ll talk more about long-term goal writing in a minute, but it will be easier to show you my planning method if I first talk about something else: deciding what “grade” to put your child in…or not. This can be a sensitive subject for some homeschoolers and ultimately everyone makes their own choice. In the public or private school setting it is common place to be asked what grade your child is in. At homeschool gatherings, you may first be asked if you even place your children into grades. The answer for us: we do. Why? Because almost everything you sign your child up for is based on the grade they are in. AWANA? Check! YMCA activities? Check! Sunday School? Check! So it just made sense to us to say they are in X grade. The next big decision, of course, is WHICH grade? We decided based on age. One of our children reads above “grade level”, the other below. One is at “grade level” in math, the other is slightly below. I teach what they are ready for when they are ready for it, but I put them into activities based on their ‘grade’.
The reason I discussed that is because of the first form I use when doing long-term planning that I am going to share with you. It is called the “overview form” and it looks like this:
I use this form just to help me think through each year and at what point our family will be. It helps me think about which classes I will be able to teach together, also. I use grade levels, so I wrote the school year in the left column and my children’s names in the top blank gray columns. Then I wrote the grade level they will be in each year. You can also see that for the first four years I have grades listed for Boo I just have Buddy’s age in parenthesis. I have also included an example using ages rather than years:
The next form I use is called a subject form. It looks like this:
I have one written out for each subject that I wanted to do a long-range plan. This is a brainstorming and organizational tool. When I fill one out, they look something like this:
I use the left side of the form to brainstorm all of the broad topics or classes I want to cover in a subject. The first form is for 1-6, the second form is for 7-12. After I am done brainstorming, I can use the right side of the form to divide the topics up by year. You can use the numbers as grades or years. In my example, for year one we will do family history, neighborhoods, and patriotic symbols. Then, in year two, we will go on to Ancient Egypt, etc. Because my family does History and Geography together, I would consider the numbers as years rather than grades.
Here is an example of a 1-12 Science plan using grades:
You can see that the topics are very, very broad. For the upper grades they are actually just the name of the course. Later on we will be planning out yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. For now, this is just a very basic plan.
I have also included a couple of other forms. They each have a little different way of doing the long-term planning. You do not need to fill them all out. Pick the one that works best for you. I use different forms for different classes, depending on what I want to be able to see.
The next form is an “at-a-glance” for that I call a 12-Year Form. This allows you to write in the years and see all twelve years on one page. Here are some examples:
The first form shows an overview for one child and therefore gives the school year when the child will be covering those topics or classes. The second form shows an overall plan for a family that does History and Geography together and shows which years the family will be covering which topics.
In the following two forms you can see two ways of using grade levels instead of years:
The final form has more room for writing specific things to study within a subject. This one shows another Science plan, but includes resources and very broad activities for that year.
When I started working on my long-range planning for our family I used several resources to help me. Some of them include:
- The Checklist
- What Your Child Needs to Know When
- E.D. Hirsch’s What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know
- Simply Charlotte Mason’s Curriculum Guide
- Weaver Curriculum Skills Evaluation
Scope and Sequence Guides from Homeschooling Publishers
The forms in this post are available to you to download for free:
Next in the planning series will be a discussion on learning styles and homeschooling methods.