Many unschoolers just let life happen to them. But, I have found that unschooling really works better if you have goals and a plan. Planning is an incredibly important component to feeling calmer and more productive. Planning ahead is an invaluable resource when it comes to helping you feel more in control of your time and of your life. One small trick I’ve learned over the years can help you amp up your planning routine even more, and that’s deciding on things at least the day before, if not earlier. Just because you unschool doesn’t mean you have to just let life happen! We plan vacations, don’t we? We make appointments with doctors and take our kids to music lessons and other outside classes, too. Those are planned. Why not make appointments with yourself? One of the greatest benefits of using a planner is getting your intentions on paper and changing dreams and wishes into goals. Read on to discover how planning your homeschool, at least the night before, can lead to calmer days.
Benefits of Using a Planner for Your Homeschool
Homeschooling can be incredibly fulfilling for many of us. Despite this fact, it can also be one of the most stressful parts of our lives. We juggle so many different things! The house needs cleaning, food cooked, supplies researched and bought, errands and shopping–I could go and on. Not to mention the unique interests and needs of each child, from the toddler to the teenager. Keeping track of everything can become an overwhelming task that leads to a whole lot of stress. Making a plan for your day ahead of time offers a lot of benefits. Like a brain dump, it gets the to-do list out of your head and on to the page. And, as I said, gets your intentions in writing so you can act on them. You get the most benefit when you decide to plan the night before.
Ability to Set Goals
Planning ahead makes room for you to set goals and chart a course to achieve them. It also helps you see how much you’ve accomplished. Unschoolers that have at least a loose plan tend to accomplish more, see more progress in skills development, and help their children learn a valuable life skill. Doing this also makes it easier to meet state requirements because you’ve taken the time to think through the resources you need and how you will use them. And, at the end of the year it provides a written record of all you’ve done.
Helps You See Gaps
One of the other benefits of using a planner is that it helps you see learning gaps more clearly. As unschoolers, it’s easy to get wrapped up in projects and focus on one subject area. But, a planner helps us think more broadly. We do have to be careful not to fall into the trap of “sticking to the schedule.” But, having a general plan offers peace of mind that we are doing enough, that we are covering everything, and that our children are learning.
Offers Peace of Mind
Planning your day before it has even arrived allows you a little separation from the stress of deciding in the moment. When you approach the plan the night before, you have some space that allows you to look at tomorrow as a clean slate. You won’t feel time-crunched, and you can more objectively see what activities should take priority. Also, by making decisions ahead of time, you’ll be freeing up executive function space in your brain to allow you to think more clearly during the day and get more done. In addition, when you make a plan such as block scheduling, you’re more likely to stick to it. When flying by the seat of your pants, you may tend to slack a bit, leaving yourself feeling frazzled when you get that phone call or your kid approaches you with, “I’m supposed to be at _____’s house in ten minutes.” That’s happened to me and inevitably, it was because I hadn’t planned ahead.
How to Get Started Gaining the Benefits of Using a Planner
Getting started is actually quite simple. You don’t need anything fancy or store bought. All you’ll need is your regular calendar. This can be in paper or digital form. Then decide on just three things that you need to accomplish tomorrow. Look at your calendar and decide in which time blocks these activities best fit. Don’t let yourself panic about locking yourself into a time frame. We all know things come up unexpectedly sometimes. You can always move things around. At least having a basic plan will get you on the road to being more in charge of your day. This is just a starting place. That’s it. If you’ve never used a planner before, this is the easiest and best way to start planning your homeschool day the night before. When you’re ready, block scheduling takes this a bit further or you can check out other, more detailed planners. If you have to track learning for state record-keeping, a planner makes this a breeze.
With some practice, you’ll soon find you’re able to roll with the punches if your plan is thrown off kilter. The benefits from planning the night before are tremendous when it comes to freeing up your mind, helping you to prioritize and encouraging follow-through. Give it a try tonight!