So you have decided to begin the journey of learning at home and you have considered the question of registration. Now you need to begin making your plan. This plan is for you, regardless of whether you decide to register or not. You need to consider what the big picture of home education looks like for you.
You need to think about where you are, where you want to go, and how you want to get there.
This big picture plan sketches an outline to assist you in moving forward, filling your days with books, people, and experiences that move you along in the right direction of your learning journey.
Imagine standing at a viewing platform as you take in the view of your destination and the path that will lead you there. You can see where you are, where you need to walk, and what the terrain is like as you head to your destination. This is what's involved in big picture planning.
Your Big Picture Plan
Asking questions about your home life, your teens learning experiences and needs, interests and goals are the best way to get started on your big picture planning. How you respond to the following questions will help provide a reference point when choosing learning experiences, resources, and courses. Your responses here will provide the groundwork for a concise and clear learning plan for the year ahead and you can return to them each time you need to plan your next steps.
Where You Are
What is your family culture currently like? What do you like to do together as a family? How do you communicate? Do you share any mealtimes together? What community groups are you a part of, do they enrich your life and the life of your children? What does education mean to you? How does your teen feel about learning? Does your teen currently have any learning struggles or areas they would like to work on?
Where You Are Going
Is there anything you would like to change in your home to enhance your family culture and to encourage an atmosphere of learning in your home? Does your teen have any vocational or personal goals they would like to work towards? Do you need to spend time deschooling or take time to encourage positive mental health? Why are you homeschooling? What skills, character traits, or knowledge would you and your teen like to have achieved at the end of their homeschooling experience?
How You Are Going to Get There
How do you communicate best with your teen? How does your teen connect positively with friends, family, community? How does your teen like to learn? What is your teaching style? What resources, experiences, and books will best support your teen's learning and your family culture?
Now you can begin plugging in your responses to the thought questions above and begin to refine them into points, plans, and goals.
Educational & Personal Goals
Short term - these are the goals you'd like to work towards during the year ahead
Long term - these are your big picture goals that you are working towards when you reach the end of your homeschooling time
Overview: Learning Needs, Styles, Teaching Strategies
Take note of what your teen needs to learn, how they learn best, and what strategies you will use to guide them in their learning. This is a general overview and the framework you will use to make specific plans for specific learning areas.
Overview: Home Learning Environment
Your home is the base for your learning. Here is where you take note of the physical and motivational aspects of your home that will support a healthy learning atmosphere. Physically you need to consider natural lighting and airflow, organisation of resources and books, spaces in your home that allow for quiet independent work, group work and family connection time and outdoor spaces that are welcoming. Motivational aspects of your home learning environment include considering a variety of learning experiences such as interactive learning, real-life learning, daily routines, hands on learning, and small group opportunities.
Home education takes a real-life wholistic approach to education, recognising that our whole life and our whole world offer opportunities for meaningful learning, engagement and relationships. As home educators we have the opportunity to take a step back and consider what social opportunities will best support our teen's learning and social development. We begin with whether our teen is an introvert or extrovert and what areas are best learned within a group setting. We begin with our connections with our community. Our relationships, friendships, and social learning grow from there.
Now we can plan our curriculum as the questions leading up to this point will enable us to choose the best resources, books, experiences and teaching methods that will provide the best learning experience for your teen. You may reference guides written by home educators who embody the philosophy of education you implement and it is sometimes handy to reference the Australian Curriculum or Queensland Key Learning Areas as you pull together your plan.
Pick Your Planning Template
Now it's time to consider how you are going to plug your big picture into a workable term by term or yearly plan. The simplest way to do this, and feel confident you are covering everything the HEU wants to see in a home education plan, is work with one of the templates they provide. At the time of publishing this blog post the HEU has 6 Templates to choose from. These templates can fit with a variety of approaches, styles, and learning philosophies. The trick is to pick the one which fits you best. Browse these templates, consider your resources, methods, and philosophy and think about which template might suit you best to start with.
In my free guide below I offer my suggestions on which templates work well with various homeschooling approaches.