How To Evaluate Your Homeschool Year So You Don’t Feel Like A FailureHomeschooling
1. Who’s done with schooooooooooolllll?? Not meeeeeeeeee!!! It’s okay though. We’re in the homestretch and everything is fine.
2. No seriously, all’s fine. We’ve made TONS of progress and we’re ending on a high note!
3. So I feel TOTALLY qualified to give advice on how to evaluate your homeschool year. Join me on this delightful, and NOT AT ALL panic inducing year-end review! (Brown bags optional.)
In my state, I’m not required to present anything to the local school district or meet with any evaluator. If your state has different requirements, you’ll want to modify this review to meet your needs.
4. First, I pull out each child’s course of study form, which I completed at the beginning of the year, that lists the materials used for each subject. I also have each child’s bin of books, notebooks, etc. Did we finish the books I assigned? Or at least make substantial progress? If not, was the material too hard, or not suited to my child’s learning style? Are there subjects you may need to continue through the summer? I make my own notes, then I ask my kids. Even when they were little and perhaps not quite able to fully articulate their feelings on a given subject or text, it was usually easy enough to figure out whether or not they liked something we were using. I make notes on what to keep or swap out for next year and pull out samples of work I want to keep. “Official” paperwork is saved in each child’s file box, artwork or school work I like, gets snapped and saved in Evernote. (And, sometimes used as fire starting material in the winter.)
5. I do a review with each child, before tackling family subjects; the big question being – are they getting done at all??? Does the current schedule allow us to meet and work on things together or do family subjects get pushed off? Do we need to switch up curriculum or our daily or weekly routine? Maybe your family does morning time together (or circle time or morning basket or whatever the trendy name is in homeschooling circles this week). Now would be the time to evaluate how that’s going and whether or not it’s time to drop certain materials for new ones, or move the time earlier or later in the day. In a co-op? Review how that commitment played into your homeschool this year as well.
6. Finally, I pour a big glass of wine and take a look at myself as the teacher. I ask my kids and my husband for their thoughts before hiding in my room to cry for a few days. When I emerge, I ask myself the tough questions. What did I enjoy this past year? What was hard? When I locked everyone outside for “physical education class” was I justified? Would the police think so? Having just looked through the kids work, I know that, despite any rough patches, progress will have been made, usually more than I realize. I think about when I was most discouraged, burnt out or frustrated, and make notes of when to plan breaks. What caused problems: extra curriculars, illness, family emergencies? Is it recurring problems I can plan for going forward, or did we just have a really rough year? I look at the organization of my lesson plans, school records, old school work; is it all a disorganized mess? Can I easily find what I’m looking for? I plan a separate time for cleaning out the school room. filing my lesson plans for the year and tossing old paperwork. If I think I need a different type of lesson planner, I make a note of that too and start shopping around online at my leisure. At about this point every year, I pull down a few worn homeschooling books and reread them for encouragement.
7. After all that, I reread our family’s homeschool mission statement. Did we stay on plan, and stay true to our goals or get distracted by outside activities or some shiny new curriculum? Our mission statement is the roadmap to our homeschool; did we stay on the path or wander off and get stuck in the mud. Having clear goals, short and long, makes it easier for me to see how well the year really went. I don’t get caught up comparing my kids to those in other homeschooling families or to those in school. My kids are making good progress if they’re moving towards the goals we’ve set for them, even if those goals look totally different from the Common Core or what’s on a standardized test for their grade level. It makes it easy when times are hard because I know where to focus when we need to go into survival mode, and because we stick to the most important stuff (for our family) when things get kinda crazy, we’re still always making progress.
Although I always start out my end of year review slightly hesitant, I usually come away feeling satisfied. I’ll probably do our review in July after enjoying a couple of school free weeks. If you homeschool, do you do a year-end review? Any other suggestions to add?
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