Written by Toni Anderson of The Happy Housewife
This week marks the halfway point in our homeschool year. I have to admit I’m celebrating a little because usually we don’t reach the halfway point until February! This year we are on track for an early finish and a full summer vacation. (The first we’ve had in several years.)
While I don’t give report cards to my younger children, the halfway point is a great place for me to reflect on our year so far and evaluate our progress.
It is easy to get distracted by the day to day of homeschooling and not adequately evaluate our homeschool program until it is too late. Spending a day or two at the halfway point is a great time to evaluate progress and change course if necessary.
Here are a few questions I ask myself (and the kids) to help plan the second-half of our school year.
Are We Having Fun?
This is the most important criteria for my younger children. Maybe not every day, but I want school to be fun for my children. I don’t want them to arrive at the school table each morning with long faces and bad attitudes.
When evaluating the “fun factor” I consider our current curriculum- is it boring, filled with busy work, or too difficult? I also evaluate my job as their teacher. Am I pushing them too hard, is it all work and no games? Has completion become my end goal rather than education?
If I find that I’m too focused on tasks then it is time to step away from the red pen and teacher’s manual, schedule a few field trips and put the fun back into our homeschool day.
Are We Making Progress?
Sometimes it is hard to tell if your child is making progress because you are with them every day. Before school starts each year I do a simple assessment as an easy way to measure progress throughout the year.
For younger children this might be number, shape, color, and letter recognition. For early elementary it might be a word chart or books read list. If you didn’t you can check progress by comparing work from the past few weeks to work done early in the year.
If you don’t see any progress it is time to re-evaluate the curriculum and your teaching method. Perhaps you are lecturing your visual learner, or maybe your kinesthetic learner needs more experiments and hands-on projects.
If your child is struggling remember to ask them for feedback too.
Is the Curriculum Working?
It’s okay to change horses in the middle of the race. One year I used a certain math program with my children. They hated it–we had tears, fights, and struggles for the entire year. I was determined to make this math program work, since so many other people loved it, so we stuck with it for the entire year.
The curriculum did work, if you are judging it by math skills learned that year. But it failed miserably if I factored in developing a love of math. My two children who I forced through that curriculum dislike math to this day. Before we used it, they loved math, but all it took was one year to ruin math for them.
Had I switched curriculum mid-year I might have two kids who enjoy math. At least they might not dread it and still talk about the year I made them use a certain curriculum.
In our homeschool a mid-year evaluation is not something that requires extensive record keeping or a lot of time. It is something simple that can be accomplished in a day or two and is incredibly helpful in making the second half of your homeschool year a success!
How do you evaluate your homeschool progress?