By Annie Reneau

I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for almost a decade, and over the years, I’ve come up with a system for planning our school year that has stood the test of time.  Feel free to borrow any of these tips and let me know how they work out for you.

  1. On the day your local public schools start, go to the beach or the park, just because you can. While you’re there, laugh self-righteously at all the poor souls who had to drag their kids out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn to get them to school on time. Then remember with panic that you still have to prepare your school year for each of your children, and momentarily wish that all you had to do was drag your kids out of bed and take them to school.
  2. Reread all of your favorite homeschool authors for inspiration. Then reinvent for the umpteenth time your own eclectic/structured unschooling/interest-led-except-for-math/Charlotte-Mason-meets-John-Taylor-Gatto-with-a-classical-bent educational philosophy.
  3. Spend some time thinking deeply about your educational mission statement. Then print it out on pretty paper and hang it on the wall so that your children can challenge it daily.
  4. Peruse Pinterest and repin beautiful homeschool rooms that you’ll never in a million years have the money, time, or space to recreate in your own home.
  5. Get your actual school room or space totally organized and in perfect order. Then take a photo of it because you know it won’t look that way again until the next school year begins.
  6. Gather all of the curriculum you plan to use for the year, even though you know you’ll probably only get through the first third of most of it and the first three pages of the rest.
  7. Print off enough planning pages for the entire school year, even though you’ll probably only use them for the first four weeks before devising an entirely new planning system.
  8. Create an elaborately detailed, color-coded spreadsheet of what your daily schedule is going to look like. Print and hang on the wall so that you can flog yourself each evening over the fact that it fell apart somewhere between breakfast and morning snack.
 Daily Schedule
Actual schedule I made one year. I’m only this anal on paper.
  1. Convince yourself that this is the year you’re going to stick to your anal-yet-in-theory-still-flexible schedule, plan meals, keep up with housework, train for a marathon, finish your novel, and solve world hunger. When you realize you probably won’t actually do anything on that list, create a vision board so you can at least LOOK like you’re going to do those things.
  2. Spend hours perusing park district brochures, library calendars, local e-mail groups, homeschool co-op schedules, and online programs looking for educational opportunities for your children. Then double those hours coordinating the times and places of your kids’ classes and activities. Then add up the cost of all of those classes, cut out half of them, and wish you could see some of that tax money you’re paying to educate other people’s children.
  3. Call up another homeschool mom and whine about how not “together” you feel and beg her to tell you that she feels the same way. Solidarity, sister!
  4. Remember that you go through this process every year, and that your resilient offspring miraculously continue to be educated despite you.
  5. Take your kids to the beach or a park on the second day of school, just because you can. But this time bring a magnifying glass and nature journal, explain to them how sand is made, explore the history of jungle gyms, and call it a successful day of learnin’.

Happy schooling, everyone! 


Annie Renau writes about motherhood and other hilariously beautiful things. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and three children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone. You can visit her blog Motherhood and More for more of her writings.

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