Planning for the New School Year: Where to Start

August 2, 2017
Mercy Every Minute   

This time of year is when I feel like I need to just scrap everything and start over, so planning for the new school year gives me the fresh start I need. 

Maybe you are feeling down, like you don’t want to even think about the new school year, or don’t know how to start. If so, it might be time to review The How and Why of Home Education. 

Some of you plan years in advance what you will be studying and the curriculum you will use. Some plan during the summer for the next year. Some of you are very detailed-oriented and some are not. Some plan each morning, and some of you wait until the end of the day and write down what really happened. Some of you write nothing down. God created each of us uniquely (as our children also reveal) and He uses all these methods as they are yielded to Him. Seek Him FIRST, and God will give you wisdom for each child, and strength to carry it through. 

  • Don’t just add God to your own cleverly devised plans; rather, make pursuing God and His Word your family’s main purpose. 
  • Don’t ask God to follow your plan and bless it; follow His plan and bless Him.
  • Our life is not our own to do with as we please, but to do what would please God. In the same way, our children are not ours to do with as we please, but to do with them what would please God.
  • After prayer, evaluate each child; do some research; make a simple plan, and present it to your spouse. Pray together, and then listen to what they have to say! They see things from a different perspective, so be willing to adapt the plan. 

  • Plan to give God’s Word and prayer preeminence in your school day, and He will bless your efforts in the academics. He has a way of filling in gaps with knowledge and wisdom that we know nothing of. 

 “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me” (Psalm 57:2).

He will be faithful to lead those who have yielded all to Him. He has already gone before you into the new school year, so there is nothing to fear as you keep your children Home Where They Belong.  


More on the subject: 

The Dad-Plan: Leading the Charge in the New School Year by Todd Wilson

 New School Year Resolutions: 5 “I Will’s” by Deborah Wuehler

Developing a Philosophy of Education by Tia Phillips

P.S.  If you are new to homeschooling, or know someone who is, here is a bundle of freebies to share:


When you start teaching The Lost Tools of Writing, you notice that almost all of Level One is devoted to teaching the persuasive essay. You might think this rather odd. After all, aren’t students much more interested in writing stories and exploring their own ideas than they are in writing about irrelevant things like whether the Roman senate should have assassinated Julius Caesar?

Maybe. But when you teach a child to write, you aren’t trying to get him excited; you are trying to help him write well. Excitement follows. Writing is a stunningly complex skill. Nobody has yet plumbed the depths of what makes a person a good writer.

In the Christian tradition, we call this idea the logos, which is Greek for “word” or “idea” or “message.” Thus we read in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Logos and in Revelation 1:17, we read, “I am the first and the last.”

When you write, you, the Image of God the Creator, have a logos to reveal.

When you write more sophisticated things, you drop hints about your logos so the reader has to search it out, which makes reading novels and poems an adventure.

But when you begin to learn how to write, more basic skills need your attention. First of all, you need to learn how to identify and express your logos clearly and vividly. In a persuasive essay, you call it the thesis statement.

Thus, by writing the persuasive essay, your student will not only practice basic writing, he'll develop habits that will help him in decision making, reading and communicating, as well as learn skills that transfer to debate, public speaking, law, medicine, and ministry. Most importantly, he will develop the habit of identifying clearly what his point is.

Thus, by writing the persuasive essay, your student will not only practice basic writing, he'll develop habits that will help him in decision making, reading and communicating, as well as learn skills that transfer to debate, public speaking, law, medicine, and ministry. Most importantly, he will develop the habit of identifying clearly what his point is.

Imagine what that could do for your conversations this new school year!

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  Lisa Marie Fletcher  

It's that time of year again where we start putting together all the details of what we are doing next with our kids. As you figure out all the details of what curricula you are using for all your core and extra subjects, I challenge you to be even more intentional with your plans and put these on the calendar, too:

1. Family time.

Set aside specific time periods that you are designating as family time. Putting it at the same time every day or week means that everyone will be more likely to remember and be excited for the fun that could bring. Family time could be everything from sitting together at supper, to a family meeting to talk about goals and issues, to movie night. You need to do what works for your family.

2. Extracurricular.

Make sure you put on your plans all the extra things that you are going to be participating in for the year. Add in any sports, volunteering, co-ops, classes, groups, jobs, field trips, etc. Once they are in place, you can really evaluate if they are a benefit to your homeschool education or if they are pulling you in too many directions.

3. Time for You.

I know. I know. “Me time” can be a SUPER hard thing to consider as a full-time, super-busy, homeschooling mom with a house of kids. But it's important to set aside even a few minutes in your day to pause and catch your breath. Put those times on the calendar, too. Whether it's a big getaway like a conference or a daily break with a cup of tea, it's important enough to add to the plan!

Homeschooling is more than just what books you are going to use to do math and language. It also includes the extras, but most importantly—it includes the whole family. 

~ Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie is a mom with 5 kids ranging from 2 to 13. Between teaching the kids, chasing littles, and pretending to clean the house, she works on her site, The Canadian HomeschoolerHer mission is to connect homeschoolers in Canada with each other and with resources that will help them on their journey. 


Dover publishes more than 10,000 affordable books—and they can help students of all ages have a successful homeschool year!

Choose from literature, coloring books, history, and more. 

Tracy Klicka

Get Ready . . . but First, Perspective!

Getting ready for another school year can feel like military boot camp. Buying curricula, planning lessons, coordinating field trips, scheduling the calendar, updating chore charts, creating meal lists, and praying, praying, praying—all while accentuating a positive attitude—may seem like the equivalent of push-ups, laps, planks, stretches, and target practice, with a lot of mental focus thrown in.

I actually like researching, shopping, planning, and organizing for a new school year. I’m a B.O., Born Organizer, so my pulse quickened just a little whenever I pulled out the stack of shiny, new books we’d be using that year. Some moms would love to get away on an overnight retreat for a pampering session, including a manicure and a pedicure. My idea of a recharge was to spend the night at a girlfriend’s house, locked away in her guest room doing my lesson planning for our new year. Am I crazy or what?!

Where I tend to get snagged every year, however, is in the area of expectations. I mean, if you plan well, everything should go pretty well, right? In my homeschooling dreams, my home would be clean, my household would run smoothly, my kids would have great attitudes and enthusiastically learn, and we would get through all of our schoolwork each day. 

Unfortunately, about two weeks into the school year, I would wake up from the dream and be confronted with reality—lots of messes, interruptions, and grumpy countenances and words (my kids’ included!). And I admit, it’s hard to keep up my optimism when things start to fall apart around me. Maybe you can relate to that.

After several years of this (Okay, so I’m a slow learner!), I realized something very important was missing from my school year planning—the right perspective. What do I mean by this?

First of all, having the right perspective means that I am mindful of my and my children’s helplessness and need for Him. I will never have it all together, and neither will my kids. “In Him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). You may not have it all together, but you are all together—you, your kids, and God—and that’s what matters. He is right there with you, eager to give you of His fullness. Andrew Murray describes God’s generous disposition as never growing weary of keeping charge of your life and giving you strength. Until we realize we are unceasingly dependent on Him, we will not experience the joy of constantly receiving from His overflowing goodness. In His love and wisdom, God will certainly help us to do all He wants us to get done. 

Secondly, having the right perspective is remembering that I am my kids' mommy first and foremost. More important than guaranteeing that the math homework is completed, the science lesson is learned, or the history paper is written, is the sacredness in the everyday things we do as mothers . . . nurturing, leading, and loving, from the overflow of our own communion with the Lord.  In these things, we are reaching hearts, teaching minds, and training hands for God. Just as we don’t homeschool in our own strength, neither do we “mommy” in our own strength. My kids have heard me yell in frustration, and then repent; cry when I am deeply sad or overwhelmed; and make decisions for them out of fear instead of faith. It is in your role as mom that your children see what walking in humility, faith, and trust is all about. These kinds of lessons are lifelong and are priceless.

No matter how well you plan, as wise and as fruitful as this is, you will have hard moments, days, and possibly even weeks. Count on it. But you can also count on much, much good happening in your lives together. For those who love Him, we can “know that God works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28 CEB*). Remembering God is in our homeschooling journey keeps everything in perspective. We plan for the worst and hope for the best, but more importantly, we trust Him for everything.

-Tracy Klicka

Tracy Klicka homeschooled her seven adult children and has been writing for over 20 years, encouraging parents that homeschooling is worth the challenges! As the Director of Development for the Home School Foundation, she helps families homeschooling through hard times. She can be reached at

* Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The "CEB" and "Common English Bible" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Common English Bible. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Common English Bible.


Easy Grammar Ultimate Series texts (Grades 8, 9, 10, 11, 12+) contain 180 lessons, each requiring only 10 minutes daily. Concepts are presented cyclically for mastery learning. Format: #1) Capitalization, #2) Punctuation, #3) & #4) Grammar, Clauses, etc., and #5) Sentence Combining. Use daily with your literature/writing studies.


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Marcy Crabtree

Let me just be honest up front and say that homeschool planning is not my thing. Actually, planning in general is not my thing. I’m pretty spontaneous and, generally speaking, fly-by-the seat of my pants in most things.


Don’t get me wrong—I have tried to plan. I have set aside days to write extensive lesson plans for a quarter at a time. I have purchased curriculum that has lesson plans all laid out. I have dreamed about having a homeschool with such a great plan that every day goes smoothly, every subject gets accomplished as scheduled, and I never fall off the lesson plan.

There are few problems with this though:

1. Our homeschool is delight-directed

    Because our homeschool operates on the assumption that I will follow my son’s interests and passions, there’s just no way to plan ahead very far. If we were following a preset plan, it would be difficult to switch gears easily.

    2. Rabbit trails

    You’ve heard of those, right? Let me give you an example. You’re going along, learning all about horses, when one day, you begin talking about how the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt used horses to pull their chariots. Suddenly, your son gets interested in mummies, and the next thing you know you are mummifying a chicken. Chickens have little to do with horses in the grand scheme of things. That, my friend, is a rabbit trail. Or maybe it’s a chicken trail? Anyway, we would not be free to follow them, if we had a plan we had to follow.  

    3. Life happens

    Let’s face it, things come up. Someone gets sick, a neighbor needs you, your husband wins a free vacation (we can dream, right?), or maybe you, sweet mom, are living with a chronic illness (like me) and the days can be hard. There are times that these kinds of days become a week. Or two. Having the flexibility to change things up, literally at a moment’s notice, is imperative. Falling off the lesson plan all the time would be frustrating for everyone.

    I know some of you are shaking your heads, rolling your eyes, maybe even gasping as you read. But some of you just sighed in relief, because now you know you aren’t the only one. And guess what? It’s all good. Whether you are an uber-planner, who can’t live without colorful pens, pages and pages of calendars, and planning sheets for each subject, or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants homeschooler who would rather have your toenails removed than plan, it is okay. There’s room in the homeschool universe for all of us!

    Now that I have shared that little secret with you, let me share with you something I must have, not necessarily for planning, but for record-keeping. I plan to keep a record of our homeschool. I think that counts.

    I simply use a simple calendar-type planner. It doesn’t have to be a homeschool planner; any planner with monthly and weekly pages will do. Instead of jotting down my plans, I keep a record of what was done each day. You could even just use a simple spiral notebook. 

    Finally, lest you think there is absolutely zero organization to our homeschool, we do have a daily schedule that we attempt to stick to. I had three goals in mind when I developed our schedule:

    1. Begin my day with quiet time

    2. Get school done in a timely manner

    3. Find a way NOT to be on the computer all day.

    However that works for you, do it. Plan for a successful day instead of exactly what you’ll do each day. Unless you are one of those uber-planners. In that case, you probably stopped reading a long time ago. And that’s perfectly okay, too. 


    Marcy Crabtree is a Christian homeschooling mom to one teen son. An encourager at heart, she is passionate about cultivating relationships with other moms and spends much of her time doing so both on her blog, Ben and Me, and in social media.


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    The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and curious homeschoolers everywhere want to know what you think are the Best Choices for homeschool curricula and products! Cast your votes for the 2017 The Old Schoolhouse® Excellence in Education Awards!

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    Contest Corner 
    For the month of August

    Easy Grammar was written by an English teacher who felt there should be a program that not only taught each foundational concept, but continued to build upon it in order to achieve mastery. Easy Grammar is a comprehensive, yet straightforward approach to teaching grammar. Dr. Phillips uses a method I have never seen before, in which the student learns first to identify prepositional phrases. This helps eliminate problems with identifying other parts of speech. Following prepositions, the table of contents includes verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, sentence types, friendly letter, interjections, conjunctions, sentences and fragments, sentences and run-ons, capitalization, punctuation, and writing sentences.

    To facilitate a review, I received a complete Grade 5 Set, which includes the Teacher’s Manual, Student Workbook, and Student Test Booklet. I used this set with my ten-year-old who is currently finishing fourth grade. The teacher’s manual is just over 700 pages and includes introductory information on how to use the program, a copy of every worksheet in the student book, and an answer key. You will also find pre-test and post-test assessments, as well as sample lessons for Daily Grams: Grade 5, which is another Easy Grammar series.

    The Student Workbook is around 320 pages and begins with a list of prepositions to memorize. While the Teacher’s Manual is very useful, the information in the Student Workbook is clear and concise, and a motivated student could utilize it almost independently. It gives a quick introduction and definition of the topic of study and a couple of examples, with key words and phrases emphasized in bold print. Simple directions are followed by only a handful of exercises on each page. I think this makes it easy for students to work quickly and efficiently. Once the student learns prepositions, they may move on to other concepts, but cumulative reviews allow the student to continuously practice previous material. The Teacher’s Manual encourages you to break the reviews down over several lessons if necessary to enhance learning. (. . .)

    (Read the rest of the review.)

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