The Good ‘Ole Summer Time. Time for refreshing watermelon, lazy days on the beach and even the sound of the cicadas. Summer is also when many homeschool teachers are preparing for the next school year. (Although, it is tempting to just relax on that beach.) During this period, when things slow down a bit is the best time to evaluate the previous year. What worked and what didn’t. It’s easy to become frustrated, disillusioned and even fearful when the school year didn’t meet expectations. Questions fill your head: ‘Am I doing a good job, are my kids learning, have we done enough, should I put them into a traditional school next year?’
First of all, take a deep breath. Exhale. All teachers have doubts in themselves whether they teach in a traditional school or a homeschool. Life happens. Maybe you had a baby this year; discovered one of your children had a learning disability or a serious illness; had a death in the family or experienced a move. All of these things and many more reasons can disrupt the whole flow of your school year. I repeat…Breathe.
I love that line from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: ‘Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it (yet).’ That really is something you have to internalize as you evaluate your previous year. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If last year didn’t go as planned…get in line. We’ve all been there. But in being a homeschooler we have flexibility on when and what we teach. If you didn’t get as much history or grammar in this year, then that can be a focus in the next year. If you plan to homeschool through high school, you have plenty of time to get everything covered. Even if you only plan to stay home one more year, that is still one more year to address the areas that need special care.
First, make a list of everything that worked well. Those are the things you will most likely stay with next year. If your 1st grader did well in one particular phonics program then you should stay with it. If, on the other hand, it didn’t work; you may need to search for something different.
Then make a list of those things that didn’t work for you. Those are the areas that you need to make a change in. Talk with friends in your homeschool support group. More than likely they will have ideas for you to check out. Visit some of the online homeschool curriculum groups. Post a question. No doubt you will get lots of advice and help.
After that, put together some yearly goals specific to each child. This doesn’t just have to cover academics but also spiritual, emotional and social aspects as well. If you have goals you are more likely to reach some or all of them. When you just have a vague notion in your head, it may stay just that…vague and wishful but not concrete and affecting your school.
Next, consider which subjects you will cover. Did you have too many topics to cover everyday so that you didn’t have enough time to tackle the hard or struggling subjects? Maybe you didn’t cover enough subjects. Asses which exact subjects you wish to cover with each child and try to combine the grades together as much as you can if you have multiple children.
Plan. As much as you can, plan out your days. Give your older ones a list of all they need to finish for the day. This keeps them on task with a goal to attain. The more you plan, the more of a chance you have of actually fulfilling your yearly goals.
Finally, think about your schedule. Sometimes life gets in the way day after day and that should be a clue that your schedule isn’t working. If you have younger and older children, schedule the older ones to work on independent work while you work with the younger ones in reading. And keep in mind that the schedule which worked during the 1st quarter may not be what you need nine weeks later, so adjust and change as needed.
Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it. It’s a lovely thought isn’t it? Of course, what we do each day does affect tomorrow; but we can’t get bogged down by yesterdays and what ifs. Instead, we have to keep learning and assessing for the future.