Unschooly {Academy} Planning 101: Part I

Hello! Welcome to a quick guide to my annual Homeschool {Academy} Planning 101!

Image Credit – Bikurgurl 2016

Thank you for joining me on my adventure 🙂

Every year, our homeschool planning goes through the same motions. Here’s a quick tutorial of how I prepare to plan for a new Year of Learning!

First,think about how you’re #winning at life right now!

Bikurgurl 2016 – Grace and Space

Feel like a #winner? You totally should! Even if you see lots of struggles in the past year, this is when you get to make sense of it all. Even if something isn’t working, you’ve learned from that experience. Your children have learned. Ascertain why it isn’t working, when it isn’t working, and move forward with that knowledge for this years schedule.

Acknowledging the challenges and moving past them are key for feeling successful. Give yourself grace and space – allow for the unexpected consequences, that’s how you learn. That’s how I learn. I learn far more from my missteps than I ever do a sweeping success. Demonstrating to your children mistakes are of value and not to be shamed allows them to move through their lives not avoiding challenges, but embracing them.

Next, gather your resources.

I don’t mean to gather all your learning resources, oh no. For me, that would encompass several rooms in my home! What you want to get together are your schedules for the coming year.

  • Start with your family schedule. If it doesn’t work for your family, it won’t work for your homeschool.We have established, more or less, a general flow for our year.
    Bikurgurl 2016

    When we usually go out of town for a family vacation, take off to celebrate Christmas at the end of the year, and regular events we attend on an annual basis. For us, we try to get away to visit family once a year and go on a nuclear-family-only getaway. We’ve started staying home for Christmas and not traveling. Over that family staycation, we enjoy the same kinds of activities offered in our area; the same homeschool routines and events from year-to-year.

  • We also have a weekly flow – church, dads work, the garden, the dogs – which is a great place to start honoring what works {or doesn’t work} and plan
    Disc Golf Post
    Bikurgurl 2016

    accordingly. You won’t want to leave early mornings open for regular classes and events if your flow is to stay up all night reading {like my family!}. Conversely, if you’re an early-bird, you’ll want to be aware of practices and rehearsals that last into the late evening or are far from home. It’s not that you’ll never want to do these things, but incorporating them into the regular routine may not be planning for success.

  • NOTE: This list won’t be comprehensive at first, it grows and changes. Evolution of your life is part of the process. However, if you pull your plans and calendar from the previous year and look at how you and your family spent your time, it’ll give you a basis to begin upon.
    • What if you didn’t homeschool last year? What if you don’t have a calendar
      WP_20160314_005 2
      Bikurgurl 2016

      and didn’t plan? No worries! This is where you begin the exciting adventure of scripting what you’re year will look like {more on this, keep reading!}!

    • What if last year didn’t work, you want to implement new plans during the year? You can totally do this! Being flexible is essential for a successful life, let alone a successful homeschool plan!
    • What if you unschool? Yes. You still have to have a target to know where you’re going. We’re pretty unschooly-ish as well, but we still need to plan to get everything accomplished we’d like to do.

Failing to plan is planning to fail…

Finally, envision what you want your year to look like. Your year with your family, your homeschool, your friends, your organizations….what do you want to do – what do you

Bikurgurl 2016 – #ProjectMe

want to see happen? This is where the fun writing comes in! Do you want to go camping? See cool exhibits? Does your child love dinosaurs and want to research them all? This is where you brain dump all your great thoughts, dreams, ideas, and fancies. If you could write your story, what would it contain? Homeschooler or retiree, your story continues!

Not a writer? Do you paint? Sing? Play an instrument? Do you take pictures? Like magazines? Athletic? Cut and paste to make a vision board. Start a word cloud. Think about what you’d not only like to accomplish, but how you would like your relationships to be.

Bikurgurl 2016 – Family Scripting

“I want to enjoy the time with my children,” is a good start, but it isn’t specific. As in life, the devil is in the details – but the details make all the difference.

So I’ve got all this fun stuff to do, now what am I teaching?

In Washington State, we utilize the Washington Homeschool Organization information page on the law {I do not claim to be an expert or lawyer; all questions should be forwarded to your US State or country of origin, thx!}.

Our Unschooly Homeschool….

We are interest-led learners and weave state requirements, as well as our family and personal goals, into our days. We school year round and have ample flexibility. Focusing our energy into hands-on learning experiences, we’re never really not learning.

Bikurgurl 2016 – Fossil Hunting

If you’re new to homeschooling, or are just homeschooling curious, there are many different methods and models to follow. We don’t prescribe to any one label, but are eclectic – picking and choosing what works best for each student at any given point in time with any particular subject.

I’ve written on and off about labels and how debilitating they can be. Part of that sentiment is from our homeschooling experience. It’s seemingly easy to slap on a label to compartmentalize information in your mind, but the grey lines are much thicker in real life. For instance: my unschooler may be your unit planning learner. It’s all about your unique perspective.

We’re all really eclectic learners, aren’t we?

We don’t really follow a curriculum, per se. Since we began homeschooling in large part to follow our children’s interests, we augment their enthusiasm with a lot of reading, discussion, artistic expression {writing, visual art, movement art}, hands-on experiences, group gatherings, and more.

We read from the MENSA reading lists, read for fun, write stories, dabble in Khan Academy, learning programming, theatre, art, video games….the list goes on and on.

This is pretty detailed, so I’ll write more specifically separately 😉

How do I keep it all together?

Well, I write. My boys write. We take lots of images and videos. We keep 3-ring binders of our years calendars, book lists, highlights, writing, scores, classes, art. I scrapbook.

We take the required annual test by Washington State Law {we use Stanford ordered through BJU}. Everything gets 3-hole punched, goes sequentially into a 3-ring binder, and is kept for reference.

Bikurgurl 2016 – Chocolate Math

The Caveat – because there are always an exceptionsWe’re beginning to use some specialized binders for combining several subjects that cross the same theme, such as artist studies, literature studies, geography and world history studies, allowing my children to create their own books on the subjects they are studying from their point of view in time. These perpetual journals are slowly taking the place of our 3″ annual 3-ring binders, but there is still a place for the smaller binders in our records area for the time being. I also keep a binder with my plans, calendars, reflections. I know a lot of families are going digital, and we do keep back-ups digitally, but I haven’t fully converted yet {and likely never will}.

There’s no one way to do it!


Bikurgurl 2016

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As with any schooling choice your family chooses for your children, it’s something that’s reevaluated annually, tweaked when necessary, and full of planning and decisions.This is no referendum on what or how anyone else should run their home, homeschool, or family — this is just a peek into how we do business here.


I’m thankful to have the option to “homeschool” my children – it works for us!


What other big picture topics and ideas do you implement into your planning?

I’ll be breaking this into separate posts…more to come!

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