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The Blessing of a Lesson Planning Retreat

Photo Credit: Tracy Miller

One spring a number of years ago, a friend invited me to participate in a lesson planning retreat that she and a few other homeschooling moms enjoyed each summer. I was blessed to be able to go on this retreat four years in a row. It was an incredibly valuable time set apart—free from the distractions of daily life and responsibilities at home—to focus on preparing for the coming school year.

One or two of the ladies would drive and we would load the vehicles with crates, tote bags, and boxes full of our curriculum and resources, plus a few essentials like snacks and comfy clothes as well as office supplies, notebooks, laptops, and a copier, too!

After stopping for lunch on Friday, we’d begin our trek northward for a three-day retreat to seek God’s direction for our families and to get our thoughts and plans organized.

We held our retreat at a Christian retreat center about 2 ½ hours north of Phoenix. The retreat center worked well for us because it has houses that sleep 6-8 people and there was enough room for each of us to set up a six-foot folding table (provided by the retreat center) to spread out our materials and to work on our lesson planning.

Going to a retreat center also made it easy because meals were included. We didn’t have to spend time shopping, prepping food, or cooking, so we were able to dedicate more time to working on lesson plans. This was a big help!

If you’re like me when you hear the word retreat, images of rest, relaxation, games, down time, teachings, worship, Bible study, and friendship probably come to mind.

I quickly discovered that a lesson planning retreat is quite a different experience! I was amazed and inspired by the intensity and seriousness of these ladies the first time I went. They weren’t there to relax—they were there to work. And work we did!

We arrived Friday and got busy unloading our supplies and setting up our work areas. We worked for a couple of hours until dinner and put in another hour or two after dinner.

It wasn’t all seriousness and labor, though. Friday evening we watched a movie and ate snacks we brought along. We talked and laughed together, then went to bed and tried to get a good night’s sleep. (It’s always hard to get to sleep that first night.)

After breakfast, it was again time to work. I found that by Saturday morning I had found a good cadence and I was able to make good progress thinking through many of the subjects I planned for my children to study the coming school year.

During breaks, one of my favorite things was the opportunity to chat, ask questions, browse through the other moms’ curricula, and glean ideas.

We all learned so much from one another over the course of those three days. And the Lord certainly provided direction and brought clarity as we took time to seek Him in areas that previously were fuzzy in our minds.

The blessing of having uninterrupted time with other moms to bounce ideas off and to ask questions is priceless! Focused time away allows you to concentrate, read, preview materials, and write lesson plans. Having a plan for the year can help make you a less scattered mom and a more confident teacher.

Without a doubt, the opportunity to get away for the weekend and focus on preparing for the coming school year was more beneficial than I ever could have imagined it would be.

I know that my family’s homeschool experience was more organized and purposeful the years I went on the lesson planning retreat. I was blessed with some very special friendships that were formed during those retreats as well.

A lesson planning retreat is a worthwhile investment of time and money to help you prepare for the coming school year. Here are a few tips and hints to help you as you consider organizing your own lesson planning retreat.


Schedule your retreat. Get it on the calendar. Make reservations at a retreat center, cabin, or hotel. Factors to consider when choosing a venue include price, availability, accommodations, and location. 

Think through details such as where you’ll stay, who will watch your kids, how you’ll get there, who you’ll invite, what you’ll eat, and what you want to accomplish on the retreat. 

It is helpful to schedule your retreat for after your state’s homeschool convention so you have your new curriculum in hand. The retreat is also a great opportunity to listen to some of the workshop recordings from the convention. (Bring headphones so you don’t disturb your fellow retreat moms while listening.) 

Discuss the expectations for the retreat together ahead of time. Establish boundaries and a schedule for work times, free time, meal times, and fellowship. 

If you’re carpooling, make plans to share the travel expense by having each participant give the driver a predetermined amount of gas money. 

Think about the goals you have for yourself and your children for the coming year. Try to narrow down what’s most important for you to accomplish on the retreat and focus on that. Pray and seek God’s direction on this before you go. 

Focus on subjects that need the majority of your attention. These might be core subjects such as history, English, and science, or it might be a supplementary subject like geography, art, or a foreign language. You might also spend some time planning meal schedules and chore charts if that’s a priority for you.

Realize you probably won’t get everything done and that’s okay!


Find out what is provided by the venue and make a list of what you need to bring. Make sure you have the supplies you need to have handy so you can focus on lesson planning.

If you won’t have Internet access at the retreat, be sure to download any videos or documents related to the subjects you’ll be working on so you have everything you need.

A laptop is great if you like to type your lesson plans and notes. We found that bringing a copier to share is very helpful, too! Remember to bring copy paper, extra ink, and necessary cables and cords.

Bring your Bible, curriculum, resources and books, calendar, lesson planning worksheets, pens, pencils, highlighters, and other office supplies such as index cards, post-it notes, stapler, 3-hole punch, notebooks, 3-ring binders, etc.



Assess what works best for you and what your goals are for the retreat. The number of people also depends in great part on the facility and accommodations.

A group of about six moms seems to be just right from our experience—not too many to be a distraction and enough to provide diversity for fellowship and idea sharing. However, going on a retreat by yourself or with just one other mom can work well, too.

Choose moms that are like-minded and have the same goal of getting away to work on lesson plans. You may regret inviting a mom whose main desire it to get away to fellowship or who has a hard time refraining from talking for long.


Stay focused while you are there. It’s easy to want to socialize all weekend, but if you aren’t disciplined you won’t get your work done and neither will the other ladies. Be respectful during work times. Limit distractions. Minimize talking during work times and limit socializing to breaks, meals, or scheduled time for fellowship and recreation.

Spend time praying together and for one another. You might even plan a time of worship together.

Jot down ideas that come to you as you read, pray, and talk with the other moms. Getting away on a retreat tends to get the creative juices flowing and you’ll want to remember those gems when you get home.

Be willing to share your experiences and learn from one another. We each have learned different things that could be helpful to someone else. Don’t be so focused on your own lesson planning that you miss the opportunity to encourage another mom.

Go expecting to hear from God. He will meet you there. He has a good plan for your homeschool and family.


Many of the tips and hints in this article were shared by several fellow lesson planning retreat participants.

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Reader Comments (3)

I always look forward to your posts!
I especially agree with your point "Stay focused while you are there. It’s easy to want to socialize all weekend, but if you aren’t disciplined you won’t get your work done".
Good stuff. Keep'em coming!

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDon

Such a wonderful idea! I might just bring some planning when we go in 2 weeks!

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Love it! Buzzy

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBuzzy Anderson

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