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?
Great post. I like the idea of mid year evaluations. It can really help to evaluate whether you need to switch gears or switch curriculum mid year rather than waiting until a full year has passed. Thanks for the reminder.
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Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
Halfway point for us too:) I love the questions you use to evaluate your progress! Thank you for such an encouraging post!
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These are good points. We have a hybrid program where we are in a “parent partnership” school through our school district. We do much of our learning at home, and some interesting classes that we choose at our school. Because of district oversight, we have to write out a progress report every month and submit it to our advisor. Initially I chafed at these requirements (in addition to having to create a plan for each semester) but have found it incredibly helpful in keeping track of our progress. By taking time each month to write out everything we do in each subject, I can see where we are truly making progress, and where we are just getting by. I can start to see patterns emerge, and by looking back at the first of the year I can tell how much growth my kids have seen. I would never do anything this structured if I didn’t have to, but am so glad I do them now. We love our program, so the extra work is worth it to us.
We’re at our half way point too! Thanks for the reminder to evaluate our progress! I think I’ll do an “interview” with my 2nd grader at our Tuesday morning meeting 🙂
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Totally curious what math curriculum you’re talking about… 😉 We’re going through that same thing right now. But it’s a good reminder that we can change course midstream.
LOVE THIS. Thanks for a half-way point reminder!!
It is really important to bring the kids into the halfway point discussion. Great post! 🙂
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I hear ya sista… I just spent two days working on three of our seven kids portfolios…it felt like a Monkey was chewing on my neck…so I thought chipping away at it would help relieve me…and it did. Not only did I get some work done on the portfolios it really helped me to see where we need to be headed.
Thanks for writing this.
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I’m also curious about your math curriculum. We need to make a switch at this point too – I can’t have a 3rd grader who hates math already! We’ve been using Singapore math and while I love the concepts and ideas behind it, it just isn’t working for us right now… Thinking about Math-U-See…
Love this post. We are NOT at the halfway point, at least I don’t think we are! (I’m not consciously tracking it b/c I’m planning to do school all year.) Your first question: Are we having fun? really strikes home for me. I’m new to the whole homeschooling thing as I have an almost 6 yr old, 4 yr old and 18 month old so I tend to feel that I must do it by the book, focusing on crossing things off our list vs ensuring we have fun! But he’s only in kindergarten so of course fun should be our daily goal.
What a wonderful reminder.