Guest author Paige Mckinney
With the break of the holidays behind you, starting your homeschooling routines and schedules in the New Year lies enticingly before you. But starting up homeschooling after the holiday break may involve compensating for shorter days and coaxing kids who may still be a little sleepy and slow to get started.
Before you launch straight into establishing order and getting things on track, this is actually the perfect time for you to take a moment to assess what has been successful, and not so successful, in the previous months of your homeschooling school year.
1. Assess What Has Been Successful
-What curriculum inspired your children the most, provided successful results, and helped maintain or encourage positive attitudes?
-Which curriculum had the opposite effects? What routines and schedules worked best for each child and the homeschooling parents/teachers/grandparents?
-What things took you by surprise?
-Was there a particular interest that was sparked in one of your children? (Read a blog post about interest-based homeschooling)
-Was there a particular activity your children wanted to engage in more often or fun and popular homeschool activities you want to help encourage in them? (Read a blog post about creative ways to introduce fun into your child's learning)
-Did you attend a field trip that sparked an interest in a topic that is still going strong? (Read about a homeschooling family who uses field trips to base all of their lessons around)
-Did something you thought would work turn out to be a disappointment instead, or bring on homeschool burn-out for you? (Read this PBS article about combatting homeschool burnout).
2. Discuss with Homeschool Friends
After you’ve taken the time to evaluate these things, either on your own, discussing them with your homeschool friends ( explore Facebook groups offered by Secular Academic Homeschool) or even writing them down (check out bullet journaling for the homeschool parent), this is a good time to use these observations as a way to steer your path for the rest of the homeschool year in a more specific direction.
Take out the things that your children are not enjoying or that are not helping you in your homeschooling. If those things are fundamental to your homeschooling path and program, and cannot be removed, then you will want to look at substitutions for them (read about switching homeschool curriculum mid-year).
3. Turn Your Attention to Curriculum, Resources, and Schedules
When you are ready to turn your attention to the curriculum, resources, and schedules that you and your children enjoyed the most, this is where you can really begin to direct your homeschooling in a different, more personalized way. Determining the reasons that certain things worked well for your children will help you in making other selections that will align well with their interests and needs for the current school year.
-Is the math curriculum successful because it has less repetition and lets your child really connect with the concept (such as the math lessons and classes for middle and high school students led by Math educator, Mr. D. Math)?
-Does your child need more repetition and the math curriculum works because it provides that extra practice time for them (such as what is found in a Classical Math approach, like Saxon Math)?
-Does your child need extra time to wake up and is energized after lunch (read this blog article about balancing kids and parents with different scheduling needs by the Pioneer Woman, “Night Owls, Early Birds, and Homeschooling”)?
-Did a field trip spark an interest that you were able to tie a lesson to (check out Homeschool Concierge’s Field Trip listings)?
Each homeschooling family will have its own rhythms, needs, struggles, and triumphs. Evaluating where you are at the mid-school year, right after the New Year, gives you a chance to identify those things that didn’t work and as well as those that did work.
Here’s to hoping that you find a way to implement more of the things your family likes into your homeschooling for the rest of the school year. Happy Homeschooling, everyone, and Happy New Year, too!
This guest post was written by veteran homeschool parent Paige McKinney.
Paige is a mom of 2 grown unschoolers, and 1 nearly grown unschooler who attends a self-directed democratic school. She has over 19 years of experience in homeschooling and unschooling in Orange County, California, including working with homeschool groups, educational
non-profit organizations, and independent study charter schools.
More recently, Paige decided to follow her heart and move her family to Pennsylvania, where she is exploring alternative education on the East Coast.