Are you feeling nervous about having a successful year of homeschooling? Getting through all the work this summer was a full-time job in itself without adding your homeschooling responsibilities back into the mix. How are you ever going to get everything accomplished each day once school starts again in a few weeks?

To make your transition from summer to school less stressful, take the time to plan your new year. Use the following helpful ideas to plan a schedule that's sure to eliminate the chaos and make homeschooling easier:

Talk to God
" No bypassing or rushing this step! Every successful school year starts with the Lord and praying for His will. Take several days and pray for specific goals for each child, for yourself, and for your family as a whole. Along with the academic subjects you want to teach, write down ideas for building character, good work/study habits, and ministry goals for yourself and your children.

Talk to your children " Actively engaged your children in their own education. Ask for feedback on what extracurricular activities they would like to pursue " sports, music, etc. and limit each child to one or two (including church activities). Establish house rules (family devotions, TV hours, computer hours,) and age-appropriate chore schedules (pets, laundry, cleaning), so each child clearly knows what is expected of them without being told each day.

Lay out a yearly plan " Consult your state's homeschooling requirements for the specific number of homeschooling hours or days required. Determine your start date, end date, and mark off days for holidays, vacations, field trips, homeschool group meetings, and doctor appointments. You can purchase a large, yearly calendar that shows all the months and their days at a glance from a local office supply store. Hang it in a prominent place and be sure to also schedule teacher in-service days for yourself, dates with your spouse, and outings with friends!

Prepare weekly schedules " Once you've determined the day of the week for your child's individual interest, help him stay organized by preparing a weekly schedule with academic subjects and activities. Laminate with contact paper or place them in a plastic sleeve to make them more durable. Erasable dry pen boards also work well and allow for easy changes and adjustments to your child's schedule, especially when you need to call off school because of the weather (you know, it's so nice you have to go outside)!

Prepare daily, hour-by-hour schedules " Even though you'll deviate from this often, this is your most important schedule. Only two items were fixed in stone for my family " devotions and chores. Every other subject and activity was "subject to change" and flexible. A sample of my children's daily schedule looked something like this:

7:00 a.m." Rise and shine! (Make bed, tidy up their room, personal devotions)
7:30 a.m." Breakfast and kitchen clean up (we did school at the kitchen table)
8:00 a.m." Individual chores
8:30 a.m." Family devotions/prayer
9:00 a.m." Math
10:00 a.m." Language
11:00 a.m." Spelling
11:45 p.m." Lunch
12:30 p.m." Reading
1:45 p.m." History/Geography
2:45 p.m." Science
3:30 p.m." Free time or outside activity
5:30 p.m." Dinner
7:00 p.m." Study and complete daily schoolwork assignments
9:00 p.m." Bed time
10:00 p.m." Light's out (8 or more hours was a must!)

My family found it helpful to have each child studying the same subject simultaneously and we adjusted these times as our children grew older. We also copied the public schools hours to enable our children to play with friends and avoid the annoying question, "Why aren't your children in school?"

Purchase daily planners " Both you and your children will benefit from a daily planner. Children can record and remember assignments as they're given and you can stay calm and eliminate the stress of tracking "to do" lists, menus, and special events in your head. Parents that use the LIFEPAC® curriculum can also get a better understanding of how to plan and organize their school year with the LIFEPAC Parent Starter Kit.

Laying out a plan for the school year takes time, but in the long run, a little planning makes for smooth-sailing the rest of the year. By seeing the overall picture and breaking it down, you'll eliminate those overwhelming feelings and be well on your way to a successful homeschooling year!