Homeschool Planning – What’s in my Planning and Records Binder? (And a whole bunch of FREE downloads for planning!)

Only awesomely geeky homeschool Moms will ever read this post with interest, so let’s just all geek-out together and I’ll get all excited to share my organizational binder with you and you can at least pretend to be all excited along with me.  *chuckle*

No, honestly though, there are actually quite a few of you lovely Mamas who ask me about organizing our year and how I do it.  Well, some of my organization changes over time but one thing remains – I ALWAYS have a Planning and Records Binder.  In fact, I’ve saved mine from every year of our homeschool journey and they are such cool reminders of all the wonderful times together learning and growing!

The yearly binder is like my go-to resource for what we’re doing and where we’re going.  Also, what we’re accomplishing!

This year, I am trying desperately to simplify my planning.  This means trying to reduce the amount of time spent planning weekly by being efficient at the beginning of the year and also careful with my time management throughout the year.  Right now I’m in the heat of the ‘being efficient at the beginning of the year’ part of this equation.

First of all, I have to say that PLAN YOUR YEAR has been a huge help to me this year.  I feel like my planning is more precise, makes more sense, and has gone deeper than in many past years.  I love all the resources that go along with PLAN YOUR YEAR and all the printables!  We are using tons.

We are also using all the Morning Time resources to plan.  I LOVE Morning Time… it is a huge part of our homeschool and takes up a good chunk of my planning time…  read my post about Morning Time here.

PS. I will be doing a whole post about this year’s Morning Time plans coming up next week.  *smile*
SO… this year for planning, I will have my Morning Time Binder (I’ll explain more in the next Morning Time post), my Homeschool Planning and Records Binder (what this post is about), and also just a basic At-A-Glance daily day-timer.

PS.  For those who are wondering – this is not my yearly plans post.  I have one of those coming where I will cover everything we are planning to do for Term 1.  I hope to have that up sometime next week.  *smile*  This post is more about what it is in our binder.

The best way for me to start planning is to print out all the planning sheets I hope to fill in.

I have a huge post about how we plan our own Charlotte Mason-inspired plans that you can read RIGHT HERE.  
In that post, I talk about how planning your own curriculum is just really a process of filling in a lot of ‘blanks’.  Well, the forms you use will give you the blanks that need to be filled in.  That’s why I feel it is important to consider having a planning binder and using forms and sheets that will help you figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going in the upcoming year.
Having said that…

I am so tired of over-complicated planning every Sunday evening before the next week of school. 

 This year, I’m doing most of my planning now so that I already know what books we are reading and resources we are using.  This is not set in stone and this is not that type of planning that says what we will do every day of the year (think curriculums like Sonlight…).  No, this is more of a bird’s eye view that is planned out enough to not require much weekly fussing.
Morning Time is easy, we just follow our binder that I’ve pre-prepared and follow along in the open and go resources we are using.  (I’ll talk more about this in the Morning Time post next week!)  
Our Family Loop (more about the Loop below) is also fairly easy to just pencil in what we’ll do that day.  So, no more printing out complicated and time-consuming weekly schedules.  I am only using a simple daytimer to do my daily planning!  (I bought it at Staples for $20.)
So, basically, all I have to pencil in is 1 Morning Time subject specific to that day (ie: Music and Composer Study or Art and Picture Study), and 1 Family Look subject specific to that day (ie: which reading we are doing for history).

*Cue the chorus!*

The only thing added to this is, of course, is the kids’ Individual Studies which I write out in their Spiral Bound Notebooks.  I will have to pencil in their daily tasks into those books – but that only takes 5 minutes per night.  

A peek at the sub-headings for my Planning Binder.

So, here’s what’s in my Planning Binder:

Planning Pages from Plan Your Year include: 

Visions and Inspiration page
Goals Worksheet (one per child)
Course of Study (one per child)
Curriculum Resources (for all of our family studies and then one sheet per child)
Block Schedule Planner (this is still in theory… but it is in there to motivate me to try Block Scheduling and I think this would work well for plugging in a Nature Study unit or a Five in a Row book in the middle of the Term)

You can see my review of Plan Your Year right here.  It is honestly a great resource – one of the best I’ve seen for planning homeschool.

Plan Your Year Homeschool Planner

It took me a LONG time to narrow this down and I’m still changing it as we go… but oh, friends – know your vision!  It changes everything…

After many years of homeschooling – I’d never really done anything like this before.  It is powerful to actually write out your child’s strengths, things to improve, and yearly goals you have for them (or they have for themselves).  This helped me TONS in narrowing what to work on with each child in their individual work rotations.

You use this sheet to map out the specific resources we will use. There is also a Course of Study page which helps you figure out which ‘subjects’ the child needs to do and at what frequency.  From there, you plug in the resources on this page shown above.  (Yep, Pam Barnhill is an organizational genius…)

Our Loop Schedule for Family Learning this year.  We call it our Family Loop time.  Each day we cover just ONE of the Loop subjects and we cycle through.  This flows with the Loop that is already presented in the Simply Charlotte Mason guide for Modern History, Epistles and Revelation.  I just wanted to add in Nature Study, so I created my own look to make that happen.

I’ll probably use this for Blocking in some Five in a Row and some NaturExplorers.  

Planning and Info Pages from Simply Charlotte Mason include:

I keep a copy of these Over-view Charts for reference.

The Plans for My Year print-out found on this page.

The yearly plans for whatever era we are covering.  This year, we have the plans for Modern History, Epistles and Revelation.  (A full review is coming soon!)

My Homemade Documents:

For Family Loop/Family Learning-

Plans for Family Learning/Reading (one per term, so 3 copies)

Our Living Book List by Month (one for every month, so… lots!)

Reading Log for recording the books we’ve read (I have done these and they are so awesome to look back on… however, if you are doing the monthly Our Living Book List, then it is a bit repetitive to do the reading log as well.)

Living Literature  List – for penciling in all the books you hope to read this year.

Monthly Nature Study Planning Page

Handicrafts and Home Skills Planning Page – I use this simple chart to pencil in the handicrafts and home skills I would like to focus on each month.  This is not part of our Loop or ‘curriculum’, so to speak.  These are activities and learning that is going on all the time but that I am quite intentional about.

Individual Child’s Planning:

Individual Suggested Reading List  Okay, so, this page is meant to be a place where you can write down a bunch of the titles you hope to see your individual child read this term or year (or both).  I have one prolific reader who is CONSTANTLY asking me, “Mom?  What can I read now?!” and I am scrambling to find a great book for him.  This list helps me pencil all the titles in ahead of time.  It is not REQUIRED (we actually have no required reading in our home for many reasons… a post on that coming later this month…).  This is a suggestion list.

It’s amazing though, the power of suggestion!

This simple document can be used to sketch in what you hope to cover in Nature Study throughout your year. This year I am using a combination of NaturExplorers and Exploring Nature with Children (review coming) to pencil in our topics.  I made Nature Study part of our Family Loop instead of Morning Time this year to help encourage us to really embrace more Nature Study and learning about God’s amazing world.   A link for download is at the bottom of the post. 

A couple more files for you….  *smile*

Forgive the photo – it is just a capture from my computer screen… but this is a great little file to use for planning some Handicrafts and Home Skills stuff.  These are areas I often forget about.  Hence why my kids are approaching 10 and 12 and can’t fold a towel. *cough*  This is not part of our ‘curriculum’ in the Loop, Morning Time, etc. but it is something we do throughout the year for fun and for basic family learning.

Alright…. So, I’m literally going to write an entire post about this document.  So many Moms struggle with where to ever START when it comes to choosing books for their family.  This document can help you plan.  There are suggested areas of reading (genres, historical fiction section, hero stories, books we’ve always wanted to read, interest-led titles, etc.  This is meant as a plan/goal list… not necessarily a record.  You can put checkmarks beside the ones you do read if you choose.  

Other Random Stuff:

Booklists by year for easy access to quality living book suggestions (Like THIS one from SCM, the yearly free-read suggestions from Ambleside, and THIS one from CharlotteMasonHome.com)
Narration Helps/Suggestions
Grammar and Language Arts Helps and Print-outs for reference
This Shakespeare planning outline from SCM

This year we are also planning to row 2-3 books from Five in a Row that we haven’t rowed yet.  (Yep, still rowing!).  For our planning, we will use the files I’ve created – they are all available for FREE right here.

FREE Planning Downloads:

Plans for Family Learning 

Our Living Book Lists (Monthly)

Living Literature List (for help planning which books you would like to read)

Reading Log 

Nature Study Planning Page 

Handicrafts and Home Skills Page

Individual Suggested Reading Page

Don’t forget to check out Pam’s AMAZING planning tools too… honestly, they are awesome.

Plan Your Year Ad
Love to you all, hope these files are helpful as you plan a wonderful year of RESTful education in your home!!!


  • Alisha

    Thank you for this post and for sharing your documents! I wanted to let you know the Plans for Family Learning link doesn't work. I'm in the midst of planning our first OFFICIAL year of homeschooling (my eldest daughter is 5), which is very exciting!

  • Leanne

    Just getting to know your blog and am loving it. (I wish you lived in Manitoba!). Thank-you for sharing your thoughts, your heart, and your experiences.

  • Rebekah

    I discovered your blog recently and I'm really enjoying it! I plan for the year in a similar manner as you, so it's nice to see what you are doing and I may use some of your forms. Do you plan handicrafts and home skills ahead of time or choose them as you go through the year?

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