Blog Contributor, Family, Homeschooling, Lifestyle

Summer Planning: How to Over Plan + Go With the Flow

I live in the far north and I LOVE summer! I love the heat and the flowers, bare feet, salads and long walks, fireflies and a different schedule that often includes bonfires, camps, long car trips, gardening, swimming, painting rocks, drawing, gathering feathers, turtle shells, and other naturally found doodads.

Summer is also the time when I over-plan for our school year ‘cause I am an over plan and then go with the flow kind of homeshool girl. What exactly does that look like?

Over Plan and Go With the Flow

We go to a few conferences each year as vendors and I go through the vendor hall in the same way that Amy Dacyzyn of Frugal Zealot fame went through a garage sale. I peruse quickly, checking it against the mental list of what I need. If there is something that catches my eye, is unique or matches my list, I’ll go back and investigate further. There are great new products popping up all the time and they might fit in perfectly with my overall plan.

I also look at 2-4 curriculum catalogs each year from vendors that I know and love. I don’t look at all of them, I don’t look at large, all-encompassing catalogs. Even after all of these years of homeschooling, I find them overwhelming and I succumb to the siren song of “that would be better than what I know will work.” So, I’m boring and predictable in this way and save tons of time and money as a result.

Core 4

I start with my kids Core 4 needs (Math, Language Arts, Science, History) and fill in what we don’t have. We often have Math and Science already covered. Because we do so much reading and history as a passionate pursuit, I am always on the look-out for deeper and more challenging work in these areas.

Morning Basket

We also do a Morning Basket and this can include a bit of everything:

  1.      Memory Work
  2.      Latin/Hebrew vocabulary
  3.      Scripture
  4.      Poetry
  5.      Bible Study
  6.      biographies
  7.      Church History
  8.      Map Work
  9.      Apologetics
  10.      Extra- curriculars
  11.      Art/ Music History
  12.      Soft skills


After getting the Core 4 and Morning Basket sorted, I focus on + More. This includes foreign language, extra-curriculars, camps, PE, Music, Private lessons, areas of interest and passions (for instance, my son never did outgrow his Warfare by Ducttape obsession and can still be found making amazing larping equipment so I’ll be watching for materials on duct tape construction and weaponry). For us, these + More classes/ activities have included: Ballroom dancing, graphic design, NaNoWriMo, cooking, gardening, construction, furniture building, photography, film, apologetics, Bible Study and art pusuits.

I also think about camps, clubs, sports and music for the year, which has included TeenPact  and alumni events. Drama and Shakespeare Camp, Writing and C.S. Lewis Clubs, Karate, piano and violin. If I’m especially inspired and motivated I’ll add in movies, YouTubes, Great Courses and other links and opportunities that avail themselves.

Time & Money

We are doers and thinkers around here, so just because I add in a zillion things, doesn’t mean you have to and it also doesn’t mean that we do it all. I just dream big and then I consider two things.

  1.      How much time do we have.
  2.      How much money do we have?

I’ve worked for 6 of the 26 years we’ve homeschooled- both when we started out with just littles and for the past couple as I’ve had Jr. and Sr. High School students. During different seasons we’ve had more money than time and others we’ve had more time than money. During the seasons with more time, I’ve created and led programs, bartered curriculum for reviews, traded skills for classes and services and hung out at the library, accessing Interlibrary loan a whole lot.

For season when we’ve had more money we’ve invested in outsourcing classes and programs where my kids’ abilities and interests have exceeded my own.

Planning Power

I also get planners for my kids each fall because we have a weekly meeting where we sit down and strategize the week together. I’ve had some kids who do this naturally and others who can’t organize themselves out of a shoe-box and I’ve realized that these kids need shown the way. Regardless, teaching how to use a planner allows the kids to expand their executive functioning, which they’ll definitely need in life!

Once I’ve planned, tweaked, thought and bought I create a big master list, put our new supplies on our library cart (which we made with plans from Ana White’s site) and wait for our start date to roll around. We start the days at 9 a.m. with our Morning Basket (people can get up when they want with the deal that they have to be dressed and breakfasted with morning jobs done by 9 a.m.) and then we head off into our full and fabulous school year.

Flexibility Matters

I allow all of us the flexibility to tweak, scale and re-evaluate as the year goes on. I over plan and then go with the flow. This means some things will fall by the wayside, not work out, be too much or too little of something and that’s o.k; we’ll have plenty of other things to fill in with.

In the midst of the bonfires and salads and porch-sitting this summer, I’ll be busy planning and plotting another jam-packed fun and fabulous school year. It’s all part of the joy of summer!

CHIME IN: What do you have planned for this coming school year?

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