photo of planner and writing materials

How We Homeschool – The Planner

Homeschooling is referred to as Home Education in the UK. There are different legal requirements for home education depending on where you live. You can find out more here.

colorful folders and pen on the table
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Before reading this blog post, take a moment for some self-reflection. The answers to these questions will help inform your planning…

How was the previous academic year? Is there anything you would like to change or anything you want to keep?
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years were far from ideal due to the disruption caused by the global pandemic. However it really offered me the opportunity to reflect on our day. We found that spending 3 hours every morning was the sweet spot between engaged learners and overtired children. W (8) would be going into Year 4 and B (6) would be going into Year 2 if they were in the English school system, so this year I definitely want to go for more structure in core subjects like English and Maths while still encouraging child-led learning opportunities for other subjects.

How does your child learn? Was there a particular method they responded really well to?
One thing that the pandemic produced were better accessible learning resources. I discovered that W (8) responds much better to pre-recorded videos. He can stop and go back over parts he didn’t understand, move at a pace that suits him which increases his retention of the information presented. B (6) needs regular breaks and opportunities to be creative so I will focus on improving our ‘art trolley’ and factor in the need for breaks when planning our academic year.

Plan With Me

Despite being permanently exhausted and therefore nearly always late to anywhere (even the supermarket!), I’m a planner addict. I plan everything, I make contingency plans. When I travel with the children I have a folder with back up plane tickets, itinerary complete with Google Maps printouts (in case my data plan doesn’t kick in until the last day – like our Pisa/Florence trip!), I even have relevant activity pages and colouring sheets and a budgeting plan. So of course, I plan our home education year – even if we eventually opt for child-led/unschooling approach during the (far too hot) summer term. That’s actually the best thing about plans, you can see what needs to be done and where you can be flexible!

For this upcoming academic year I planned everything out in three steps:

  1. Weekly Schedule
  2. Year Overview
  3. Topics & Important Dates

Weekly Schedule

We have found that doing structured learning 3 hours a day, 3 mornings a week works perfectly for us. This year we will be doing 3 hours a day, 5 mornings a week taking inspiration from The Green School’s Three Frames of Learning and the Pomodoro Technique. By keeping our structured learning to mornings only the children are able to engage more easily with the learning material and by taking regular breaks (20mins on, 5 mins off) they won’t become overwhelmed. Before we being our learning day we take a moment for connection, reflection and intention setting through discussion and yoga/meditation. Every day will be the same and look something like this:

1 hour 30 minutesHumanities/Science
45 minutesMaths
45 minutesEnglish

I haven’t set times as to when we will start/finish because sometimes the children wake up at 5am wanting to work and sometimes they don’t want to start until 9am (which is better for me), but I set the maximum amount of time a day I want us to spend on a subject.

What about the afternoon? Afternoons will be as always open-ended play, art, music, outdoor play/nature studies, physical education, baking/cooking and general life skills as well as opportunities to explore personal interests through hands-on experiences.

What about summer term? It can get close to 50C during summer, so we switch our days around, which looks like outdoor play in the mornings and structured learning in the afternoons with a few naps and ice-cream breaks sprinkled in!

a kid with multicolored hand paint
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Year Overview

Now that I know what our weeks will look like, I can plan our year accordingly in conjunction with our curriculum, you can take inspiration from the video below if you’re looking for other ways to plan your year. As we are British I try to plan our schedule in similar format of trimesters around major UK holidays (Christmas and Easter), 6 week half-term blocks with a 1 week half-term break and a 3 week ‘holiday’ between each full term. That gives us enough time to cover everything we want to that year, sometimes the children want to work through the holidays which means our summer term is mainly deeper exploration of topics if they desire.

Don’t you live in a Muslim country? What about Islamic holidays? We do live in a Muslim-majority country so I try to schedule our holidays to take Islamic holidays into account as it just makes life a little easier to organise.

Topics & Important Dates

With an overview of our year (term dates) and our weekly timetable I look at any important dates that will occur during the year such as Black History Month (October) where we look at our family’s personal history in detail as well as prominent figures in Black British history during our morning discussions. I also plan our Humanities Unit Studies for each 6 week half-term block, alternating Geography, History & Religious Studies and any educational trips we may take to support our learning. This is our topic plan for 2021/22:

W (Year 4)B (Year 2)
Term 1ARomans in BritainChanges in Living Memory
Term 1BThe UK – Cities & RegionsGeographical Skills
Term 2AEarly Islamic CivilisationNational Days
Term 2BIslam (RS)Judaism (RS)
Term 3AProject – Local HistoryLocal History Project
Term 3BProject – Local GeographyLocal Land Use

We will be using Twinkl Unit Studies as a base, but you can find out more about our curriculum choices in next week’s blog post.

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