The Best Planning Tool for Homeschooling High School

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Everyone has their own planning style. Some moms love a planner filled with boxes that they can check off. Some moms love those stickers and pretty planning tools to go along with their boxes. Some moms love a good schedule type planner with lots of lines and delineations of time. But, when it comes to homschooling high school with a neurodivergent teen, planning and recording isn’t always about what you prefer. It has to align with what your teen can manage. Otherwise, it’s all an exercise in frustration fraught with empty boxes and missed times. The Best Planning Tool for Homeschooling High School will show you a simple tool with a strategy that you can customize any way you’d like for your needs and, more importantly, your teen’s needs.

a spiral notebook with a Cricut design on the cover with texts stacked spine up next to it and index cards and post it notes next to them all on a wood surface

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If you’ve been a reader for any length of time, then you know how much I love a good spiral notebook for planning. I’ve tried all the kinds- digital (both online and offline), fancy paper planners, hand made printed planners, the works. But, I finally came back to the spiral notebook that we used when we first started homeschooling. I’ve never looked back!

Planning for Neurodivergent & Sick Teens Looks Different

a teen boy smiling while sitting in his chair in front of a computer with two large monitors
Still in replace the flooring mode, our youngest got two new monitors for his 17th birthday in June, 2022.

I’ve homeschooled four teens and all of them have had chronic issues which changed the course of their high school years. If you have teens who struggle, then you probably know how difficult it is to stay on course each school year. If your teen is unable to do much school, check out my list of strategies on working with teens who have chronic illness.

  • Keep your teen’s daily list simple– don’t over load the day
  • Choose a few tasks per day– include non-negotiable items and rotate subjects to make sure your credit goal is met
  • Journal at the end of each day– so you know what was accomplished, what was not finished, and to say a word or two about how it went
  • Write out the next day’s plan– include anything that wasn’t finished and add another thing or two in
  • Put these on repeat– be consistent. If consistency is an issue, spend some time learning why.

Cultivating Peace in Your Homeschool High School Plan

a blue spiral on a wood surface with the words cultivate peace and in between is a hobbit door with leaves and mushrooms around it

Cultivating peace when you are homeschooling high school is super important if you are working with neurodivergent teens- and those who are not can benefit from peace.

What does cultivating peace mean?

  • It means not transferring my own anxiety to my teen- because when you a timeline slipping, it’s stressful (until you nurture a new perspective).
  • It means focusing on what is before us right now- without dwelling on everything left to be done (this is wise advise for us all!)
  • It means not skipping the fun things because you want to get more done- just because your struggling teen is working at a slower pace, does not mean they cannot take time for the fun things.
  • It means avoiding too much anxiety inducing news- even though we’re homeschooling teens, this is necessary for avoiding thought spirals.
  • It means being mindful about content- avoid topics that disrupt peace. Thank that’s not good for teens, check out this post on reading with anxious teens.
  • It means enjoying the learning process- lean in to what’s getting the most positive responses from your teen
  • It means listening to your teen- read the room and determine what on the list for the day can happen, and what can’t.

Pro Tip: If the “can’t days” are adding up, spend some time determining why.

Doing so will have a huge pay off, more more so than mediocre work that is forced. Plus, you’ll learn more about your teen and you’ll be able to put the right tools in place with them, so that that can be successful.

Homeschooling High School Planner Supplies

open spiral notebook with writing on it and an open fountain pen
  • Mead Five Star Notebook– in the size of your choice
  • Loose Leaf Paper– I’m a bit of a paper snob, so I will get the Mead Five Star college ruled or Staples college ruled paper in the 8.5×11 siz3.
  • ProClick Binder– this binder is so flexible and easy to use and your handmade spiral is customizable.
  • Binding Coils– to use with your binding machine. They can come apart if you need to make changes to your planner.
  • Laminator– I’ve had mine for 12 years and it still works like a charm. I use the laminator to protect the covers of my handmade planners.
  • Laminating Pouches– these are the pockets you put your paper in to laminate them in the machine.
  • Post It Note Tabs– I use these to mark out goal lists and our quarterly summaries. Plus, I use them to mark out any long term planning I do in my planner.
  • Fountain Pens– because I can’t waste the chance to tell you about them again!
  • Cricut Maker 3– this is the machine we used to create the Cultivate Pace vinyl sticker on the Mead notebook.

You can use these supplies to build your planner any way you’d like.

The important part is that the planner is customized for you.

Homeschooling High School with a Big Picture Plan

Dream Big & Take Action Course - college girl at a machine withdressform

Before the start of the year, we establish our vision of the year together.

I bring my teens to the table to talk about their goals for the year.

If you are planning high school alone, you are already behind.

But, I am the vision keeper.

That is to say, I am the one who holds that vision in mind as we plan and implement our year.

This is especially true if you are homeschooling neurodivergent teens.

It’s hard to keep that forest in mind, when you are mired in the underbrush surrounding the trees.

That’s what it feels like when you are on any sort of struggle bus.

Make an annual plan to include what subjects will be taught, curriculum and resources, and your teen’s goals

More Homeschooling High School Help

schedule grid and a ruler with the title Strategies for Scheduling High School

Strategies for Scheduling High School– this exercise is effective for knowing how much work to do in high school and how to build a sustainable schedule with your teen.

Dream Big & Take Action: Goal Conquering for Teens– if creating goals with your teen is new to you or you and your teen struggle with this, you can do this course designed to bring this process to life and put it on repeat. It’s what we’ve done with our teens and kids throughout their schooling. Pro tip- subscribers have the chance to purchase this $47 course for $27. Just subscribe below!

Homeschooling the Fifth Year of High School– there are good reasons to give out of the box teens an extra year of high school. It’s worked very well for our teens when we’ve done it.

Homeschool Planning with a Spiral Notebook– a great post if you want more nuts and bolts on building and using the planners

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Inside membership, we meet three times a month to talk about topics related to planning an out of the box high school.

You’ll learn how to implement these planning techniques and what that means for preparing for an applyting to college.

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