Plan Your Year by Pam Barnhill is a precious gift to the homeschooling community! Especially in this day when there are so many ways to homeschool, different curricula, different programs, different philosophies, I believe that Pam’s approach equips homeschoolers to confidently make choices about their materials and their schedules that fit their families’ unique needs.
This is my fourth year to use this resource, and Pam keeps improving it every year! She has most recently updated the book and forms, and last year she added an online course component. All of these products are incredibly useful to all homeschoolers, in my opinion.
Who Should Use Plan Your Year
Whether you have been homeschooling for a dozen years, like me, or more, or you are approaching your first year of homeschooling, these tools can help you. Everyone in the middle can benefit, as well! I wrote a review about the program on my old blog here, and two years later, I am even more convicted that everyone should be using Plan Your Year.
For those of us who have been homeschooling for a while, the method helps to bring clarity and order to the planning process. It has helped me to focus on why I began homeschooling and motivated me to make decisions based on my priorities in homeschooling, not just what’s easiest or cheapest or prettiest. The book and videos forced me to think about all the details in our days, and simply by working through all the steps, I have been more prepared for the past several years than ever before. And that has brought me so much peace!
If you are just beginning, the most current version of Plan Your Year will walk you through setting a vision for your homeschool and goals for each child, guide you through choosing methods and curricula, assist you in making daily schedules, and more. Pam explains all the many choices homeschoolers must make with practical wisdom and honest, real life examples. She doesn’t leave anything out, so you know you will consider all of your options.
Since I use what’s considered an eclectic style of homeschooling, which I prefer to call “the whatever works method,” I can attest that following this planning process is incredibly beneficial to homeschoolers who choose their own curriculum and don’t rely on a set program. But I also have observed and believe the process is fantastic for those who use a box curriculum and/or enroll in a homeschool or hybrid program.
Even if someone else is guiding your curriculum choices, you still have to figure out how to implement them in your home on a day to day basis. You have to figure out your overall goals for each child, when you will teach what, what outside activities will be best for your family, and more. Pam’s process includes everything you need to take those books and lesson plans you received and make them work for your family.
Why Use Plan Your Year
The structure of Pam’s planning process is logical and orderly. Some steps will take longer than others, but moving through all the steps will ensure that nothing is forgotten and all the details of homeschooling are considered. We craft goals, purchase resources, create schedules, lesson plan, organize our materials, and even set time to periodically evaluate our homeschooling. Plan Your Year leaves nothing out. It may even include a step or two that you don’t need (such as lesson planning for those who purchase plans), but the depth of wisdom in moving through this process has made a huge positive impact on my preparations these past few years.
Also Pam reminds us to begin with the most important things. One of the first things we do is to create a vision and then individualized goals for our children, so we can keep referring to those key things throughout the rest of the planning process. This prevents us from buying that shiny new curriculum without considering if it serves the needs of our family and encourages us to put first things first, focusing on our priorities for the coming school year.
Pam is a homeschool mom like you and me, and she has consulted fellow moms in writing and expanding her materials. She is always looking for ways to improve her product, which gives me confidence in recommending them. And the support community is full of wise mentors with decades of homeschooling experience. There is nothing quite as valuable as a mom who has been there before sharing what she has learned along the way.
Which Products Should I Buy?
All of them! Seriously, if you can, do get them all. Everything Pam creates is top notch. But if you need to prioritize, here are my thoughts on each element of Plan Your Year and related courses.
The Book: the new Plan Your Year paperback book is fantastic. It’s jam-packed with all you need to effectively plan your homeschooling year. The original steps from her PDF-only version have been revised and expanded with inserts from contributing authors to give you so many ideas and so much inspiration. You can copy the essential forms from the book and use them to work through the steps and complete the planning process. The book is available through Pam’s website here and Amazon here. Plus several of the forms from the book are available for free as editable downloads on her website here when you sign up for her e-newsletter!
The Forms & Community Add On: This affordable addition to the book gives you lifetime access to the continually updated, editable planning forms and access to the online support community. While the free download set includes only eleven forms, this option gives you access to over 40 forms, including current calendars! The Homeschool Solutions online community is a separate forum with various groups, depending on which of Pam’s products you have purchased and want support in implementing. It’s a valuable resource of hundreds of homeschool moms just like you!
The Course: Put Your Year on Autopilot is Pam’s course to accompany Plan Your Year. She takes you step by step through her process using videos, printable workbook pages, and all those editable forms. Plus you get access to the online community to ask questions and search the archives for excellent advice. If you need someone to gently push you and to really encourage you to work through each step of the planning process in the way it was intended, this is what you need! It’s self-paced, but Pam is a delight to welcome into your home!
Full transparency – I am an affiliate for Pam’s stuff, and all of the links above to her website are my affiliate links which help me earn a little bit when you purchase to help my online ministry to grow. But I truly do love everything from Pam. I love her Morning Basket book called Better Together (also on Amazon) and all of her resources for implementing Morning Time (free here!) (by subscription here!) (a la carte here!), although I had been creating my own Morning Basket for so long that I have not bought many of her excellent plans. Her Homeschool Consistency Bootcamp taught this veteran homeschooler that the problems I was seeing in my homeschool were mostly solved through my own self-discipline and consistency. Pam Barnhill truly has a gift in creating practical, relatable, encouraging resources to help homeschooling moms be confident and successful in their efforts! So I will continue to recommend it all!