Reposting from June 19, 2017 with editing (and affiliate links):
THE ORIGINAL KIT
Pam Barnhill, a fellow homeschooling mama, has created a remarkable resource to bridge the gap between the theoretical homeschool and the day to day reality. Her Plan Your Year Kit is a true gem, and if you are hoping to be more intentional about planning your homeschool year, every page is worth every penny!
Now, let me share why this kit has been such a gift to me!
I have found that PlanYour Year is the logical next step after reading Teaching from Rest. Most of my readers and friends know how much I love Sarah Mackenzie’s wise words. She regularly challenges us all to imagine our vision for our homeschools and focus on our priorities. Pam’s guide insists that the first thing one should do before buying materials or making a schedule is to write down on paper (or you can even type into Pam’s forms and save a pretty typed version) our overall vision and our goals for each child.
Once I have read about how I should “bring [my] basket,” “simplify the curriculum,” and “plan to breathe,” personally, I will completely forget about those ideas once I walk into the homeschool conference and start talking planning with my homeschooling friends. Even the subtitle of Pam’s guide, Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace, reflects the subtitle of Sarah’s book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. (Yes, I think they did that on purpose; they’re pretty good friends, if you hadn’t guessed!)
And another day I’ll post a review of MySchoolYear.com, a homeschool record-keeping program, which has totally improved the day to day execution of the plans I make with Plan Your Year! My process includes: Step One, read Teaching from Rest; Step Two, Plan Your Year; and Step Three, use MySchoolYear.com to make it happen! (3 fantastic resources created by fellow Catholic homeschooling families!)
As I said in my testimonial above, there are probably thousands of free homeschool planning forms on the internet today. I have used many of them, but none of them come with a how-to guide to filling them out. Pam’s planning guide walks you through the ten steps to planning your year: Vision, Goals, Course of Study, Scheduling Options, Plan a Week, Purchase Resources, Booklists, Organization, Records, and the Daily Plan.
The forms themselves are clean and pretty, and I love that you can type right into the spaces to make your own personalized planning pages. There are so many different forms for so many different situations, including everything you would expect for homeschooling planning and a selection of specialized forms for family chores, morning time, loop scheduling, transcript planning, reading logs, etc. But the guide also includes links to resources and action steps to be sure you’re putting your family’s priorities first when you plan.
If you are like me and get overwhelmed by the details such that you forget the big picture, PlanYour Year is for you. I used to start with a long list of the things I wanted to teach the following year without stopping to consider why to teach those things and which were realistic for my family. I would see the shiny new books and the bargains at the used book sales and decide to jump in without evaluating our needs. Going through Pam’s careful planning steps ensures that I walk in to each conference or sale with a list of what my priorities are and which books I think will best fit those principles.
I admit that I am the type of homeschooler who cannot use somebody else’s plans. When I look at sample pages to purchase daily lesson plans from whatever provider, I would make so many changes that I see them as a waste of my money. You may not be that way. Perhaps you love the structure of daily plans and maybe are enrolled in a full time or hybrid homeschool program. Plan Your Year can work for all of us!
This kit really is personalized. You decide the goals and print out the forms you want. You make a list of resources you need and when you need them. You plug in the activities and lessons on the calendar if you want. You map out the best approach to each day based on the needs of your family. And since an individualized education is one of the reasons many of us homeschool, this is the tool to make those wishes come true!
Finally, I cannot say enough good things about the wonderful ladies in the Plan Your Year Homeschool Planning Facebook group (now the forum). Pam’s assistant, Dawn, guides the group in regular discussion during key planning times, and Pam pops in to share relevant wisdom, opportunities, and resources, including a file section with some of those customized forms I mentioned above. If you have a question or need someone to look over your plans, the mamas there are ready to help you make a plan that works for you!
Whether you are an orderly thinker who loves filling out forms, or tend towards being a scatterbrain and need someone to help you focus step by step through planning, I think Plan Your Year will work for you! I have just begun to print forms and dive into the process this year, but I am looking forward to pulling together all the thoughts swimming around in my head about next year into a definite plan.
Let me know in the comments here if you decide to join me and tell me what you think about Plan Your Year.
2019 Note: Pam's book is now available on Amazon if you only want the book and want to photocopy your own forms. But if you want the lifetime, downloadable, editable forms and access to her online planning community, you can purchase the bundle on her website or add just those components separately after purchasing the book on Amazon by clicking here.