Homeschooling is complicated enough without tedious lesson planning. Plus if you’re a conscientious list maker like me, the lesson plan becomes a to-do list holding me accountable until every last item is checked off. What if we need a sick day…or decide to take a snow holiday…or find some wonderful educational opportunity that would be so much more meaningful than staying home and completing the next 10 pages of our textbooks?

That’s why I came to detest my lesson plan book sometime during my first year of homeschooling, but I did still need to set goals to keep me and the kiddos on track. Goals are healthy and good. Goals are our friends.

So…I devised a very simple, no-sweat planning method that worked for us and required nothing more complicated or time-consuming than paperclips. Yup. For those subjects where we used textbooks, I counted the pages and divided by 10 because our homeschool year was August through May. Then I placed a paperclip at the end of each segment to mark where we ought to be at the end of each month. So if the math book had 360 pages, we ought to finish about 36 pages in August. By the end of September we should be approaching page 72. You get the idea. Easy!

Over the years I came to appreciate our simple system more and more.

  • It gave my children something to shoot for and helped teach them how to break a large task into smaller, bite-sized segments.
  • It helped my children take ownership over their own education. They were free to work ahead or to take a break without guilt, as long as they hit their goal by the end of the time allotted.
  • This gave all of us freedom to flex, adjust, and take advantage of spur-of-the-moment opportunities.
A simple, measurable plan helps students learn to work toward a goal while allowing time for the occasional detour. Click To Tweet

Long before my last child graduated, a few precious truths sank in, as well. The concept of “falling behind” is very subjective. Behind what? Behind whom? If a student has difficulty mastering a concept, feel free to linger until they feel comfortable and confident with the skill. Move the paperclip if you need to! What is more important: the student or the schedule? Can you remember even one textbook that you finished in school? I cannot, and mostly it doesn’t matter, because the next year will begin with a lengthy review of skills.

Now, as adults, both of my children are very adept at setting and exceeding goals, but they also feel free to enjoy an occasional detour when it’s merited.

Check your state’s requirements. Do they really require a detailed daily plan? Or can you set a more general target and focus on learning?