Wow! It’s the middle of July already! Have you started thinking about the new homeschool year? Or, are you still trying to wrap up last year?
I enjoyed taking the month of June off from homeschooling. I did order a few books for the upcoming year, because one of my favorite publishers had a sale. When the books arrived, however, they went on a shelf. I was determined to give myself a break even if it was a short one.
Now that it’s July, though, it’s time for me to start looking ahead to next year. However, before I start actually planning our new school year, I find it helpful to reflect on the previous school year. I need to take a look back at what worked and what didn’t work with our schedule and our academics.
So, how do you look back in order to move forward with a new homeschool year?
I ask myself the following questions to help determine which direction to go next year:
Q1: Did my child struggle to learn the material being taught?
If so, is it because the curriculum was a bad fit? Or, is that a subject my child would struggle with regardless of what I use?
My son used to be a horrible speller. I used no less than five different spelling programs over the years before I determined that he is just a phonetic speller. The spelling rules don’t make sense to him. Today, as as he is about to enter his second year of college, he relies on spell check on his laptop. It gets the job done.
If this is the case in your homeschool, you have to determine whether or not it’s worth investing in a whole new program or just pushing through what you have.
Q2: Were there tears every time a certain subject rolled around each day?
Sometimes, the curriculum is to blame. If, for instance, a child is an auditory learner, and we are asking them to fill out worksheet after worksheet, there will likely be tears. They may not be understanding the concept, because it’s not being presented in a way that fits their learning style. This might be a time when it is worth changing curriculum to better meet our child’s learning needs.
It’s our job as the parent-teacher to foster a love of learning in our children. To do that, we need to teach in a way that is conducive to their learning style.
Q3: Was there a particular subject my kids couldn’t wait to do each day?
When our kids enjoy a subject, it makes teaching so much easier. It’s a no-brainer to order it again the following year.
There are a few subjects that my daughter thoroughly enjoys. She looks forward to completing those lessons each week. At the end of the school year, she requested to continue with our current history, Bible, and vocabulary programs. I can easily cross those off of my ‘to research’ list as I look ahead to the new year.
Q4: Was there a subject they didn’t particularly enjoy, but you could see that they were successfully mastering skills or retaining information (and not just for the test)?
I have not had one kid who liked the math curriculum we use. However, 2 out of 3 of my kids were very successful with it. They mastered the course even if they didn’t particularly enjoy it. Actually, they hated it.
Sometimes, I will change up a program if I find something similar that’s a little more “fun.” However, I do not subscribe to the belief that all learning must be fun. Some things have to be learned just because they have to be learned. So, I’m okay with a boring math program or a boring grammar program if I can see that my kids are learning and retaining the information being presented.
These are just some of the questions I ask myself at the crossroads of a new school year. For those of you just starting on your homeschool journey, you can still do a little reflecting before you head in to your first year. If you have pulled your child out of school, reflect back on the positives and negatives of their last school year.
Was there an area where they excelled? Was there an area where they need a little extra help? Do they learn better reading things for themselves or hearing the information being presented to them? Do they need to put their hands on things to make it all make sense? Do they need a schedule or a routine to be productive? Or do schedules and routines stress them out?
All of this information is important to know as you begin to make decisions about what to teach and how to teach it.