Two Steps To Finish Your Homeschool Year
- Cindy Short and Sue Welch Contributing Writers
- 2007 6 Jun
As your school year has ended, don't just fade away, perhaps in discouragement over perceived failure to reach all your goals.
If you are not finished with the studies you had planned to do this school year, you are not alone! (Even most school teachers do not finish all their plans.)
So do not panic, feel guilty, or envy those who did finish on schedule.
Talk to the Lord and your husband and consider continuing a few selected studies at a more relaxed pace during the summer.
Help your family focus on the progress you did make this year and the many good times your family has had together.
Don't forget to thank the Lord for the opportunity and freedom to home school, and for the guidance, wisdom, and strength He provides.
Step 1: Record Your Accomplishments
Set aside a day or more to do the necessary task of gathering, filing, and recording the year's schoolwork. The rewards will be that:
- You can find your records easily.
- Your children have meaningful memorabilia.
- You get more space for more books and materials.
- You might even be able to sell books you don't need anymore for some extra cash to (you guessed it) buy more books!
Gather up all your schoolwork for the year, then sort and dispose of everything appropriately.
- Select samples of work for each child in each area of their studies to put in their permanent files.
- Send some samples to grandparents (with the clear understanding that they are free to toss them after enjoying them for awhile)
- Give each child a certain amount of space in which to keep what he wants.
- Throw out the rest.
- Store some books for younger siblings.
- Shelve some books for reference.
- Give some away (to a family who needs them, your support group's library, or a thrift store).
- Trade some with another family.
- Sell some at a local used curriculum sale.
You might need to keep a record or a portfolio of your children's studies to comply with your state's laws or an umbrella organization, as well as for your own benefit.
Choose any or all of the following options. Depending on their ages, your children may be able to help you with some.
- Record the date and student's name after he finishes each concept on your scope and sequence chart or list of educational goals.
- Use lesson plans as records, checking off and dating each assignment or objective as it is done.
- Keep track of hours spent by subject if you are required to do so by your state law or wish to for your own information (e.g., for a high school transcript).
- Copy records of family projects, unit studies, field trips, etc. for each child's individual file as applicable.
- Keep a journal for each day of a unit study, briefly listing books read or activities done.
- List all books read by the family or individual students, including the title, author, and publisher. (A brief description of contents and your personal evaluation will make this list more valuable to you and your children in the future.)
- Place artwork and writing assignments in a notebook or file.
- Take photos of art, craft, and science projects and activities such as plays, costumes, and field trips. You can use a computer scanner or digital camera to create a CD containing these photos as well as pages of school work, compositions, etc.
- Put your records in a labeled box for the year or for each child.
Create a yearbook by placing photos, sample work, and other memorabilia in a scrapbook.
Tape record some of your family's answers to the evaluation questions below (especially the positive ones!) as a sound recording of your school year.
Step 2: Evaluate Your School Year
Use this checklist or make your own to see what went right and what went wrong this year so that you can adjust for next year.
This needs to be done now, while things are fresh in your mind!
You might want to discuss these items as a family and/or do a private interview with each member to get a complete picture.
Be sure to include your husband and each child for their individual perspectives. You will need to adapt the questions for each one (e.g., Dad: Do you know what our children learned this year? What would you have liked them to learn that they did not learn?).
Please do not let this evaluation discourage you! Rejoice and thank the Lord for what went well and learn from weak areas so that you do even better next year.
__ What did you like best about our home school this year?
__ What did you like least about our home school this year?
__ What did you learn?
__ What did you not learn that you would have liked to?
__ Were basic foundational skills of reading, language, and math improved, mastered, reviewed, and practiced enough?
__ Were specific facts connected to the big picture of overall knowledge through the use of a globe, maps, timelines, charts, and related information?
__ Did we use a variety of teaching methods and materials, (e.g., textbooks, workbooks, unit studies, hands-on activities, computer software, library or supervised Internet research, field trips, oral and written reports)?
__ Were thinking skills taught and encouraged by the types of discussions we had (e.g., comprehension, knowledge, analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation)?
__ Were various educational resources available and their use encouraged and modeled (e.g., reference books, videos, audio tapes, educational games, software, and supervised Internet use)?
__ Was there enough good supplemental reading done as a family or independently?
__ Were there time, resources, and encouragement available to pursue individual interests?
__ Did your family read God's Word and pray together daily?
__ Were Bible knowledge and Bible study skills increased?
__ Were Bible reading and memorization given at least as much importance as academic studies?
__ Were subjects taught from a Christian worldview?
__ Was character development an important part of our school (e.g., honor and obedience to mother and father as teachers and parents; kindness to siblings; diligence; truthfulness; and attention to details in studies)?
__ Was child discipline maintained in a simple, straightforward, and kind manner? Were the rules and consequences clear and consistently carried out?
__ Were there enough positive motivations and negative consequences?
__ Were life skills included in our training and related to academic subjects (e.g., budgeting, cooking, shopping, driving, cleaning, organizing, scheduling, repairing, maintaining a house, yard, and car, voting, finding information by phone, letter, or supervised Internet use)?
__ Was the schedule realistic and easy to keep? Too strict or too lax? Was doing schoolwork a regular, daily habit (along with chores and personal grooming)?
__ Did we have a good balance between group and independent study?
__ Were the classes we did as a group interesting, and did they allow each student to learn?
__ Was mother available for individual help when needed? Was there a need for alternative activities or procedures when she was busy with another child?
__ Did we care for our toddlers and babies in the best way for them and for our studies?
__ Were the settings for our studies appropriate and conducive to learning (e.g., dining room table, couch, individual desks)?
__ Did we have enough, not enough, or too much independent study? Were there enough time, space, supervision, and help available for these studies?
__ What got bogged down that could have gone more quickly?
__ Were there enough organization and planning for space, materials, schedule, and chores?
__ Were there enough varied experiences or too many outside activities? Were our supplemental and outside activities worth the time and effort?
__ Was the atmosphere of our home warm, loving, and supportive?
__ What do you want to do the same or differently next year?
Use Your Evaluation To Plan Your Next Year
Use your evaluation outcomes to make general, broad plans for next year and for your summer studies. You can do specific and detailed planning later; this is just to be sure you include the valuable input from this year's evaluation.
Make quick notes beside certain answers on your evaluation forms. Then set dates for your comprehensive planning for next year, allowing time to purchase and become familiar with any new curriculum.
Veteran homeschool sisters, Cindy Short and Sue Welch edit a free e-mail newsletter.
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