Now is the time to plan your curriculum for next year. Reflect on the previous year: what worked, what did not work, what just needs a little bit of tweaking.
The first thing I do is to go through each child's schoolbooks from the previous year (the ones that were not completed and therefore not stored or discarded) and see if the book will last another school year, or if I will have to purchase the next book in the series. I make a list of what I will need to order. For example: we use Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. I begin these books when my child is in 2nd grade (for Daily Grams) and 3rd grade (for Easy Grammar). We usually do not complete the entire book in a single school year, so I have the child just pick up where he left off when beginning the new school year. I have them work through each book before advancing to the next. Building Thinking Skills books are completed the same way. For subjects like math, we advance to the next grade when the new school year begins even if we did not complete every single page (this happens with my younger children who use Horizons math, but not with the older ones who use Teaching Textbooks--TT has about 118-125 lessons in a course. My children always complete their TT book within the school year.)
Next, I make a list for each child that includes what subjects he will be studying next year and what books and resources he will need. Most of my list is comprised of history books---biographies, historical fiction, literature, and general information about whatever time period the child will be studying.
I spend a good bit of time browsing through all of the homeschool catlogs that I receive this time of year. As with all tasks, I don't have large hunks of time, but I keep the catalogs and a pen in a bag, and whenever I have a spare moment (waiting in the car, in bed at night, a few minutes after lunch, etc.) I go through each catalog circling what I may want to purchase. I turn down the page if I circled an item on that page. I also spend short spurts of time online browsing curriculum websites and online catalogs. I put any items that interest me in a shopping cart for later use. After spending two or three weeks doing this, I am ready to make my order list. I handwrite this list rather than type it, because I work on it in a variety of places at a variety of times. I keep the notebook with my order list in the same bag as the catalogs. Since I have turned down the pages and circled the items that interested me, this does not take much time. By this time, since I have looked at curriculum at so many different places, I usually eliminate several items from each catalog or online shopping cart as I review them. I write down the name of the book or item and its price. Then I do all of my ordering online, crossing off each item as I order it. I try to group as much as I can into a single order in order to save on shipping costs.
Now, what to do with all of those books as they arrive?!?