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Evaluating Your Homeschool Year & Planning the Next!

Posted Apr 20 2009 11:46pm

Joyful HS copy

Summer is almost here! Time to hit the beach, go on vacation,...and buy next year's curriculum. Maybe you homeschool year round, but our family, loves summer vacation. Before you hit the beach, why not sit down and evaluate the past year so that you can make a wise plan for the coming year. How did this past year go? Were you able to finish all the work you planned at the beginning of the year? Or are you planning to spend the summer "catching up" on this year's work.

Buried heads beach Often, we make excuses when things did not go well and assume that next year will be better because it will be different, so we make similar plans. My husband tells his congregation that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." An honest evaluation will tell us what is working, what is not, and why.

Pull out all your lesson plans, records, and completed schoolwork from the past year. Compare records to lesson plans. More important than finishing work, did the children learn what you wanted them to learn? What helped everyone learn and remember? What unexpected "teaching moments" or "real-life experiences" made the school year memorable? Why? What did you enjoy teaching the most this past year? What were some times that you felt the children really "got it"?  When did the children finish all their schoolwork, but still not "get it"? Do you see any patterns?

Here are some questions you can ask your children:

What did you like best about this past year? What did you like least?

What was the best book you read this year? 

What things that we did this year would you suggest for other families? (If you know families with younger children, mention them by name!)

Did you work with all your heart this year in school? Do you think Mommy worked with all her heart to teach you? How can we all honor the Lord more in our home school?

Now, comes time alone with God. Take the information you've gleaned from your child, your own personal evaluation of their school work and, even their test scores to the Lord. Are there recurring areas of weakness? I remember a teacher going over the difference between effect and affect several times one year.  I have never forgotten how to use the noun and when to use the verb. She made that stick with me for life. That's what we want to do--teach so that things stick with our children for life. What things does God want to stick with your children for life that you can teach them this coming year?

Aug 2005 Jim on beach Prayerfully consider God's plan for your family next year. Try, as much as possible, to have some subjects that the whole family can study together or, at least, be studying the same thing. Make a list of what you want your children to learn and brainstorm all the ways you could teach them, even if they sound impossible. I always imagine learning geography by traveling around the world, but it somehow never fits into our budget! This idea led to us "cooking around the world" to learn geography. Find out what other families are doing next year and what they are using? Are there any coops, enrichment classes, or 4H Clubs that are covering topics that interest you? Is there something you've always wanted to study, but never found the time? Why not next year?

What about living books? What books has your child not read yet? Cricket in Times Square? Tom Sawyer? Uncle Tom's Cabin? Are there some books that you've always wanted to read aloud with your children? Swiss Family Robinson? Pilgrim's Progress? Chronicles of Narnia? Schedule in classic literature for the coming year. If you don't plan ahead, another year will slip by without reading those classics you've always meant to have your children read.

Read reviews of homeschooling materials: Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews, Reviews by Heidi, TOS Crew, Take Root and Write Homeschooling Curriculum Reviews, or The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Product Reviews. If possible, talk to friends who have used the curricula that you are thinking about. Plan a potential schedule and curricula list at the same time. This way you can see if your plans are workable or unrealistic.I encourage you to visit a curriculum fair or state convention, just so you can look through the materials you are considering.

Once you have all your ideas turned into plans and your new curricula purchased, comes the real fun. Gather everything you are using next year and completely cover the dining room table (my husband would not know that summer has arrived without this step!). Get out books, supplements, possible supplements, DVDs, CDs, coloring books, and anything else you might need. You can divide your materials up in piles that represent months (who says only kids can make a mess?) and do your lesson planning. Figure out how many weeks you will be homeschooling the next year and subtract two weeks. Set aside two weeks for "catch-up"; one in the fall and one in the spring. Set aside any other weeks that you might spend doing a unit study. How many weeks do you have left? Divide you planned schoolwork among those weeks. Pretend you have a science textbook with ten chapters with thirty weeks to cover the book. You have three weeks per chapter for the year.  That is how simple lesson planning is!

Spend the rest of the summer relaxing, doing crafts, and enjoying your children.  And don't forget to hit the beach!

Wishing you glorious summers days!

Meredith Sig Homeschooling copy

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