Planning for a successful school year starts with three areas that most people would not consider part of school planning. I find that the lack of planning for meals, household chores, and extra-curricular activities or work are the areas that can easily derail our homeschooling. In this post I will share the three areas that I think are most important to plan each school year.

Meal Planning and Shopping

It’s common to joke in the homeschool community that our children are Hobbits. Look at the Hobbit meal times and see if you don’t agree. Hobbit Meal Times: Breakfast at 7 a.m., Second Breakfast at 9 a.m., Elevenses at 11 a.m., Luncheon at 1 p.m., Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m., Dinner at 6 p.m., and Supper at 9 p.m.

Sigh . . . If we don’t have a good plan in order, we won’t have enough food to get through the day, let alone the whole week. In the summer it’s easier to wing it, but add school into the mix and we will sink into oblivion by dinner.

I begin by going through my cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer to see what I already have on hand, then use those ingredients as the starting point for a menu. To make meal planning easier each day of the week has a theme. Monday is pasta, Tuesday is Mexican-themed, Wednesday is soup, stew, or casserole, Thursday is sandwiches and potatoes (for example hamburgers and fries or sandwiches and chips), Friday is pizza and salad, Saturday is leftovers, and Sunday is a big dinner and dessert. I have a rotation of breakfasts and lunches that I serve so I don’t have to come up with new ideas each week.

Some of my friends are using ChatGPT to assist in their meal planning. I haven’t tried that one yet. I like to grab my favorite cookbooks and recipes and make my plan. Once I have all the meals planned, then it’s time to make a grocery list and shop. To make shopping easier, you may want to subscribe to a grocery delivery service. I particularly like Walmart Plus. You can subscribe by the month or for a full year. Consider the subscription fee as a homeschooling expense!

Household Chores

If the house is cluttered and the dishes pile up, homeschooling and making meals becomes more difficult. If your chore routines fell by the wayside over the summer, now is the time to get some new ones in place.

I find that doing chores at several set times each day is optimal for keeping the household running smoothly. We break our chores into daily chores, weekly chores, and monthly chores.

If this is your first year homeschooling or you haven’t required your children to do many chores previously, you may not be sure what to expect from your kids. The Kids Activities blog has a great post on what to expect at each age from your child.

You may think it’s easier to do it all yourself, but that’s a quick path to burning out and not having the energy to homeschool your child, plus it deprives your child of valuable skills they need in the future.

Work and Extra-Curricular Activities

It may seem counter-intuitive to plan everything before you factor in time for school, but since we often can’t adjust the times that extra-curricular activities are offered, if we want to participate in them we need to plan around them. Likewise if we work either in the home or outside of it. Once you have these items scheduled, then you can see when you can do schoolwork. I like to use Google Calendar. Each person and pet has a color assigned to them. Each person in our family can easily see what’s on the schedule and what the openings are in our schedule for adding activities. If I am at the park and someone invites us to participate in an activity, I can easily know if we are available. There are quite a few free online calendars, but whatever you use, putting activities on a calendar that everyone can access will prevent you from double-booking yourself or forgetting someone that you wanted to do.

If you haven’t taken the time to plan these areas before now, I encourage you to give it a try and see if it doesn’t improve your homeschooling this year.