Planning Our Year-Round Homeschool

This is the year – the year we get organized with homeschooling, make a plan, follow a curriculum, etc. etc.

We’ve been pretty much unschooling since K was born, but this year we are planning a big move to a state with more homeschool “rules” so we have to make some adjustments and I figured it’s better to get into the groove now rather than later. Plus, K was diagnosed with autism earlier this year and really needs more consistent structure and routine in order to retain what we learn. So, this weekend, I spent a good chunk of time planning out our homeschool year.

If you’ve never planned out your homeschool lessons, it can be pretty daunting and overwhelming. So I’m sharing with you how we are structuring our months, weeks, and days!

First thing’s first, you need a GOOD PLANNER! I’ve looked and looked and most planners either just don’t provide enough space or they are for teachers in public schools. But I finally found THIS ONE that I just LOVE! It works well for one child OR multiple children. (Bonus Points for being under $10.)

It took a bit of math to figure out how to get 180 days to split up evenly through the year for our year-round schedule, but it actually works out really well!

To do year-round homeschooling, and get a full 180 days in, you can plan lessons for 3 months and take every 4th month off. For us that means we start school in September, and take December, April, and August off. So our last month of lessons for any grade level/specific curriculum is July.

This leaves roughly 15 extra “floating” no school days to scatter throughout the year for:

  • Holidays that don’t fall on weekends
  • Birthdays (K gets her whole birthday week off)
  • Vacations that don’t fall within the off months
  • Sick Days

The benefit of homeschooling here is, if you need to make up any school days, you can always do lessons on the weekend or planned off months.

Once I had the year schedule planned out, it was time to move on to planning our weekly flow. In order to do that I had to decide which subjects we would do on which days. You COULD do every subject every day, but I feel like that’s a bit much at her age and that it would cause definite overwhelm for us both.

Here’s what our weekly schedule looks like:

Daily: Since K struggles most with reading, I decided that we would focus on language arts (including spelling, phonics, writing, reading, and reading comprehension) every day – and this makes up the bulk of the daily work. I also planned one page a day from the 180 Days of Geography and 180 Days of Social Studies for First Grade workbooks, as well as ASL practice.

Mondays Only: I planned Mondays to be “slow start” days, so we do less language arts, but add in Piano and Art. This is also the day we learn new signs for ASL, which we will practice throughout the week.

Tuesday/Thursday: In addition to the daily work, we will do Math these days, with new concepts being introduced on Tuesdays and reviewed on Thursdays.

Wednesday/Friday: In addition to the daily work, we will do Science these days, with new concepts explored via videos and books on Wednesdays and lab on Fridays.

The curriculum I’m using for each subject is sequential, so we will just start at the beginning and work through to the next lesson each week. The workbooks for Geography/Social Studies are 1 page a day, and to work through the entire Math workbook, we’ll do 2 pages a week. There’s 1 ASL lesson per week, 1 new piano lesson per week, 1 Science concept per week, 1 Math concept per week… Easy Peasy!

As far as day to day flow goes, we start around 10am, take a full hour break for lunch around noon, and finish around 2pm. That allows everyone wake up at their own pace, have breakfast, and settle in. It also allows for PLENTY of frustration/meltdown time, breaks, and rabbit holes.

And there you have it! If you missed it, check out what curriculum we’re using this year HERE.



Our favorite products for kids with sensory needs

My 4 (going on 14… anyone else have one of those?) year old daughter, K, was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder a couple years ago. She’s had issues with her ears since birth and it’s suspected that her SPD is linked to that. She has a HUGE noise sensitivity as well as some vestibular and proprioceptive delays.

We’ve been through therapy, took a break, and are looking to get back to an OT soon.  K just started attending a local cottage school (where I teach) one day a week and could use the extra support.

Over time, we’ve accumulated several things at home to help support her sensory needs. Amazon is a FANTASTIC place to find toys and tools for SPD/ASD kiddos. Here are some of our favorites:

1) OUTREE Kids Pod Swing Seat Hammock

Swinging is one of the best activities for sensory input. (Check out these  benefits of a sensory swing). We purchased this one for K and hung it in her room. It can support up to 170lbs. Pro Tip: If you’re hanging this inside, don’t use the anchor that comes with the product – use a different heavy duty anchor. The anchor that came with the product failed and caused the swing to fall, but the anchor we replaced it with has held the swing up fine.

This swing can be used indoor or out and, other than the anchor design, is a good quality product. The exterior is a canvas material, which is suitable for outdoor weather. My girl loves curling up in this with her stuffed animals!

2) Vanderfields Earmuffs for Kids

Noise sensitivity is a common symptom of sensory processing disorder and ASD. My daughter is literally terrified of flushing toilets, hand dryers, blenders, the vacuum…pretty much anything with a small motor. Or a big motor. Okay, pretty much anything that makes loud mechanical sounds. And water.

Bathroom trips in public were a NIGHTMARE before we purchased these noise blocking ear muffs. She’d stick her fingers in her ears and refuse to move. It’s incredibly difficult to get a child to use the restroom when they won’t use their hands.

These noise blocking ear muffs have been a LIFE CHANGER. Public restroom visits are a breeze now. If I’m blending a smoothie or vacuuming, I just give her advance notice and she grabs her ear muffs. These travel with us everywhere. She even uses them at night sometimes when it storms, since she’s also bothered by thunder.

These come in 8 fun colors – I let K pick out which one she wanted. They are cushy on the ears and expand to fit even my adult sized head (I’ve used them while operating a table saw). These do NOT cancel ALL noise, but rather lower the noise level by about 20 decibels. (For reference, normal conversation is about 60 decibels, while many household tools hover around 80-85 decibels.)

3) SENSO MEGA BUNDLE Sensory Chew Necklace – Silicone Chewy

I’ve sometimes found K biting her hands or fingers – especially when she’s upset or tired. We got a chewy necklace like these, from a birthday party, and she wears it out when we’re going to do something that’s particularly demanding on her senses. However, it’s currently lost in the abyss so this multi pack is on our list for the next Amazon order!

These are silicone, so they are soft on the teeth and won’t cause any problems for those who are allergic to latex (me!). If your kiddo is a chewer or just likes the oral sensation, then these necklaces are a MUST!

4) MarvelBeads Water Beads Rainbow Mix – 8oz

If you’re like me and are sick of dealing with kinetic sand and sticky slime, then these are the perfect alternative for you and your kiddo! Mine spent a good hour (or more!) squishing these around, scooping them up, filling jars, etc. They can also be frozen for a totally different sensory experience. If you’ve got a kiddo that needs tactile input, I highly recommend trying these out.

5) Seamless Socks

I don’t know about your kiddo but socks used to be the biggest pain and would inevitably cause a meltdown. That little line on the toes annoys me at times, I can only imagine how irritating it is to my hypersensitive sensory avoider. We started turning her socks inside out, but sometimes that still bothers her. These seamless socks are on our wish list right now! I love them because they are cute animal characters – which my girl LOVES. Her favorite pair of socks right now are a pair that, when you put your feet together, make an owl face. I’m thinking these will be a stocking stuffer for Christmas this year!

Do you have any products you have found that have helped your kiddo and supported their needs? I’d love to hear about them! Please share in a comment. 🙂