Common Pitfalls of Homeschool Lesson Planning

Homeschool Lesson Planning: Sometimes the thought brings happy, excited anticipation. It's a new year, a clean slate. But sometimes it brings anxiety or overwhelm. Where in the world do I start? How do I know what will work?

If you're preparing to do your lesson planning for the coming homeschool year, or if you're avoiding lesson planning like the plague, you'll want to avoid these common pitfalls of homeschool lesson planning.

Pitfalls of homeschool lesson planning
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Failing to Plan

I know. I know. Not everybody likes to plan. It's a definite fact that some of us love our planners and online calendars and to do lists while others just...don't. But when it comes to homeschool lesson planning, the old saying is true: "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

If you don't have a plan, your homeschool day goes something like this: The kids get out of bed and start getting breakfast. As they eat, they turn on Netflix and start watching. You know that some school work needs to happen so you give them five more minutes to start getting ready. By the time their five minutes is up, you're knee deep in cleaning the kitchen. And without you to tell them what needs to get done, they don't start school. Instead they head outside to play.

By the time you get them inside it's almost time to stop for lunch. You decide to try to get some school work done anyway. But then you can't remember what math lesson the kids were on last time. You start looking through the math book, but soon kids are complaining about wanting lunch. So you abandon school work...again. After lunch comes errands you need to run and then gymnastics and soccer for the kids. At six o' clock you find yourself at the supper table having accomplished no school work at all for the day.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe it's only me. But I've sure had days like this. Without homeschool lesson plans, you find yourself just drifting without a clear focus of what schoolwork to do and when.

Not Preparing for Planning

It happens this way: I sit down at the kitchen table, computer at the ready, kids sufficiently distracted, and I start to write lesson plans. Then I realize I forgot the history book. I get up for the history book and sit back down. Then I realize I don't have a yearly calendar to look at to determine the dates that we may take vacation. So I have to google one. And, of course, that's a thirty minute rabbit hole before I find a really pretty printable year-at-a-glance calendar. Then I get started again.

But I forgot to get the dates for our co-op for this year. So I have to check my email to find the co-op email with the calendar. While I'm at my email I realize I have twenty unread emails. I have to stop to take care of that- twenty more minutes of time gone. I get history scheduled finally and begin literature lesson plans. But I realize that I didn't get out all the individual books along with the main workbook and teacher's guide. So I head to the bookshelf to pull the five individual books I need. A good thirty minutes later, I finally have them in hand. And then I realize it's lunch time and the beasts kids are hungry. Sigh.

When you sit down to do lesson planning, you'll be much more successful if you're prepared. Make sure you've gathered all your curriculum- including individual books, your computer or physical planner, along with any supplies, and any calendars or schedules that you'll need as you plan your homeschool schedule. If you go into lesson planning prepared, you'll find it goes more smoothly and takes much less time.

Not Following the Plan

There have been many times that I had good, solid lesson plans in place at the beginning of our homeschool year, only to make it to mid-year and realize that we hadn't accomplished what I wanted to because I hadn't followed my awesome plan.

Your homeschool lesson plans can be a valuable tool in guiding what you're teaching your kids and in helping you to accomplish your homeschool goals for the year. But if you don't follow your lesson plans, they can't help you. Even if they are the best, most organized, most well-planned, most complete and comprehensive lesson plans ever.

One way to ensure that you're following your plans is to have a system where you check plans multiple times a day and either record in a journal style or check off what you've accomplished. I like to do an overview of my plans on Sunday night, before the school week begins on Monday. Then I'll glance at the day's plan each morning. And when we're through with school work that we're doing together and the kids begin their independent work each day, I take time to check off or record what we've done in each subject.

Using the Wrong System

There are so many, many, many types of homeschool planners. There are digital planners, physical planners, online planners, printable planners. There are weekly planners, monthly planners, and yearly planners. If it's available for homeschool lesson planning, I've probably tried it. In fact, you can read about thirteen different homeschool planners that I've personally tried here.

The problem is that, even with all of those planners, I've struggled to find a planning system that works. And I've realized that trying to force a certain type of planner or system to fit my style just doesn't work. When I do that, I end up either not using the system and not planning, or I struggle with the system constantly, and I end up wasting valuable time trying to figure it out and make it work.

Eventually I developed my own plan. I use Google Drive to organize everything. It's easy to use because I can cut and paste to easily copy or move assignments around. I can print it if I need to or just use it online. I can access my plans from any computer or any device, so it's convenient.

I love this system so much that I wrote an ebook about it- Creating Homeschool Lesson Plans That Work.  The book lays out my planning method step-by-step and includes a free copy of my Google Drive digital planner.

Pitfalls of homeschool lesson planning

The most important thing that will help you to be successful in lesson planning is to find a system that works for you and then be consistent in using it. Whether you plan with lots of structure and details or you prefer a more flexible system, the key is taking the time to plan and then actually using the plans you create faithfully.

Have you found a lesson planner or lesson planning system that works for you? I'd love for you to share it in the comments!

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