Homeschool Prep for the Time Crunched

I am not a person who likes to spend a ton of time planning & prepping for school. Mostly because I don’t HAVE the time. I homeschool with a 3 year old and a 6 month old. We own our own business and my hubby works 10-12 hour days. I work 6-8 hours a week for our business, in addition to my other writing (without which I would go insane). I do not have close friends or family who can help and my oldest is just starting to be old enough to help herself & others. All that to say that I have a few tips on not planning or prepping for homeschool.

1. Have a plan for the school year

By this I mean, plan for breaks, vacations, holidays, etc. When I set up my school year, I set it up for approximately 6 weeks in school & 1 week off from August to June, with July off. If you are in a state that mandates a certain number of days, know that you have enough to meet your requirements. Since we don’t, I just checked to see how many days a week I would need to get ~180, which is what everyone else needs to do.

2. Buy low prep curriculum

Oh, you already have your curriculum? Well, then try to find a way to make it lower prep :). I keep our math manipulatives & cards in the drawer with the books when possible. When the curriculum calls for prep or particular items, I generally wing it. I frequently substitute items or skip activities entirely if the amount of prep time is out of sync with the value of the activity. It’s your curriculum; you use IT, not the other way around!

3. Create a loose plan

Once I have my curriculum, I take a look at the number of lessons and figure out how many need to be done each week to get through in a year. Then I do that many. Rather than write out an elaborate schedule, I have a list to get through looking something like this:

Bible – 1/day
Religion – 5/week
Reading – 3/week
Handwriting – 4/week
Math – 4/week
Grammar – 1/day

Science – 2/week
History – 3/week

I never feel behind if we do school 3 times instead of 5 because I don’t have a plan that I’m getting behind on. Since most subject get done almost daily, we do them daily. Then, if we skip them one day it’s not a big deal.

4. Have a regular planning day.

At the beginning of my one week break, I do the following.

– Gather, print & laminate any special unit studies (holidays, etc)
– buy any new books or workbooks needed
– Print out any curriculum or teachers books needed
– reserve books at the library
– look at curriculum for new manipulatives to use or get out
– replenish supplies
– file completed books, papers, portfolio work

It took me around 8 hours the first time I did that this year. I am also homeschooling my 3 year old, partially to keep her occupied, partially to keep her from making trouble & partially to give her some dedicated time with me. She is very hands on and so I print a lot of LOTW worksheets & laminate & cut them all. If it weren’t for that, this would only take 1-2 hours for my first grader.

4. Store it somewhere accessible.

I tried having a homeschool room, but little ones need to move around a lot. In fact, it’s part of the reason I do almost no prep–having them run to get things gets the wiggles out regularly. We bought a cart and its in the living room next to my bookcase. The first 6 drawers contain all of the subjects we get around to. No dreaming about what I’d LIKE to do, but just what we actually do. The bottom 4 drawers are my 3 year olds activities — 1/day.

On top, I have two hanging files — 1 for each girl with unit studies, extra worksheets & misc. supplies for me. Their lap desks are in front. On the other side of the couch is our school shelf–it holds things I WISH we got around to using regularly, school supplies & art supplies.

My guess would be that I probably paid $65 for the cart, files & desk, but I got deals and scavenged our office for things we weren’t using. Don’t ask about the bookcase in the dining room. Ahem.

These 4 things allow me to create a loose plan once & prep only occasionally, while still getting everything important done.

How do you get away with as little homeschool prep as possible?

Jen is a Catholic wife and mother to three little ones whose nose can usually be found buried in a book, learning once all the work is done. Or sometimes, even when it’s not! You can always find Jen blogging about the big 5 — God & Catholicism, taking care of yourself, serving your spouse and children and all the other work women typically do at home. She can be found blogging at Happy Little Homemaker and on most of the social media sites.

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