Do you evaluate your homeschool mid-year? If you answered “yes,” how’s it going for you? Do you think it’s helping? If you answered “no,” then allow me a few moments of your time to explain how valuable these can be for your homeschool. Before you think, “Great, something else I need to do!” Hear me out. Setting aside a little time to review what’s going good, bad, right, and wrong in your homeschool can keep you from getting stressed and overwhelmed. It can also be the much needed mid-year boost to help get past the winter slump.
What is a mid-year homeschool evaluation?
In a nutshell, a mid-year review involves putting your homeschool schedule and the subjects you’re teaching under the microscope. It’s looking at how well things are going, what’s not working at all, and/or what could use some improving. You’ll want to ask questions that help you decide what stays, what goes, and what should be tweaked. This is where being honest with yourself really comes into play.
Why do you need to evaluate your homeschool mid-year?
Do you ever have those feelings that you’re behind or there could (or should) be more to do? Perhaps you’ve already noticed a particular curriculum isn’t working but you haven’t identified exactly why. Doing a review of the first part of your homeschool year can help put that into perspective. It’s also a great idea to do a mid-year review so you can approach the remainder of your homeschool year with fresh eyes.
You’ll definitely want to do this during a break — like winter break — so you have time to focus without the hustle of writing lesson plans, planning field trips, or booking it to the next co-op meeting. If you’re homeschooling year round or start your homeschool year in January, don’t worry so much about the time of year as much as just making sure the evaluation is done at the halfway point.
How to Evaluate Your Homeschool Mid-Year (the easy way!)
The easiest way to begin your mid-year review is by grabbing a piece of paper and jotting down all the subjects you’re teaching. Make sure you go beyond the core subjects (English, math, science, etc.) and include any electives, your morning basket, enrichment lessons (ie: piano, art, dance, gymnastics, karate). Once you have them listed, create a key to use for easy reference. For example:
- Use a checkmark for things that are working well.
- Use a question mark for things that use some tweaking or changes.
- Use an “X” for things you absolutely want to get rid of or swap out.
As you navigate through your list, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do my children enjoy this subject?
- Is this subject easy to teach?
- Are the resources I’m using helping my children learn effectively?
- Are the resources I’m using helping me teach the subject effectively?
Depending on your answers to these questions, put the corresponding mark next to each subject. Once you’ve moved through the entire list, go back to the subjects with the question mark (or whatever you chose to indicate a change could be made). If there is tweaking that needs to happen, brainstorm what this could look like. In some cases you may need to put this subject at the beginning of your homeschool day, or maybe it’s a subject that could be combined with another one.
For a subject that has an “X,” you’ll want to figure out if it’s the subject that is the issue or the curriculum you’re using. It can be as simple as looking for ways to completely replace the subject or swap out the curriculum for something completely different. Of course you don’t want to completely toss it out if it’s a core subject like math; however, taking a small break can sometimes alleviate any resistance. Some parents find relief in outsourcing difficult subjects, whether it’s with online courses, co-op classes, or hiring a tutor. This was the situation for us with high school math. We ended up both switching to an online curriculum AND hiring a tutor.
The overall goal here is to create a plan that will help you cater your homeschool to truly meet the individual needs of your children. There is no need to continue with a subject, curriculum, or resource if it’s simply not working or causing more tears than cheers. Use this opportunity to evaluate your homeschool subjects and curriculum to boost what works and change what doesn’t. And no guilt allowed.
Evaluating Your Schedule
Your mid-year evaluation can also be used to make sure your homeschool schedule is complementing your family. A lot of times we naturally gravitate toward attempting to change our family to meet a homeschool demand when, in fact, it should be the other way around. Homeschooling should be seen as part of your lifestyle and your schedule should reflect that.
On the backside of the same sheet of paper used for evaluating your subjects, jot down what your current homeschool schedule looks like. Include wake up times, naps times, evening routines, and everything in between. Then, same as before, give each time space (or block) a symbol to reflect if it is working, needs changing, or has to go altogether. Ask yourself questions like:
- Is our schedule consistent?
- Are our days too short or too long?
- Is the current schedule helping us meet our homeschool goals?
- Does our schedule complement my children’s learning styles?
With these questions in mind, review your list and see where you can make any necessary changes. Keep in mind your unique family dynamic and take into consideration things like:
- Homeschooling multiple ages and grades.
- Any learning exceptions/disabilities.
- Kids who are still napping.
- Older children who may be working.
- Extra curricular activities.
- And so on…
Each of these aspects play a key role in your homeschool running smoothly.
What if I need to make major changes in my homeschool?
This is one of the most common questions asked by homeschoolers and one that tends to bring the most stress. Although veteran homeschoolers will tell you that major changes are okay and don’t necessarily indicate that something is wrong, it’s not always easy seeing what that actually looks like. If you find yourself needing to make big changes, keep the following things in mind.
Change is necessary.
As your children grow and develop, their learning styles may change. Their level of independence may also ebb and flow, changing how much of your individual time is needed. This means the way you teach and what you’re using to teach may need to change as well. Always tell yourself that change is necessary and doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Change can be very good.
It’s okay to take (unplanned) breaks.
When you begin to see homeschooling as a natural part of your family’s lifestyle, then you’ll feel better about taking unplanned breaks. These could be due to a new baby, a chronic illness, an unexpected move, or any other life moment. Remember that you can pick up where you left off and look for unique ways to make up anything that was missed.
Put together a support system and utilize their help.
Even if you don’t have a local support group, or no one in your immediate circle is homeschooling, there are other ways to build a support system. Thanks to technology today you can join Facebook groups, follow certain Instagram accounts, or find other platforms that offer support and help. Sometimes it does a journey good to glean from others who can offer tips and advice.
If you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your homeschool mid-year, it’s not too late to consider doing it. Use the tips mentioned above to help get started. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you! Have you ever evaluated your homeschool before? What was the result? Let me know in the comments below.