Tips on Evaluating Your Homeschool Schedule

As you finish up the first semester of the school year, this is a great time to look back and evaluate all aspects of your homeschool to determine if there should be any changes made for the next semester.

When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to take time to evaluate how things are going, so taking a little time while on holiday break can help the next semester go even better than the first!

It’s also a great idea to assess each child’s progress spiritually, academically and in character.

At the end of this post, I’ll be giving away a free assessment tool you can use to help you evaluate each child’s individual progress.

As you take time to reflect, ask your spouse to sit down with you and help you assess what’s been happening with school in your home. They often see things that you might not be aware of.

Most importantly, ask the Lord to guide you and give you wisdom as you reflect and evaluate your first semester and consider making any changes.

 

Here are some questions to consider as you evaluate:

  1. How did things go with the daily schedule you had for this last semester?  Do you need to tweek it at all?

 

Did you find your children were complaining or having bad attitudes related to school?

We found that starting our day with family devotions really helped everyone have the right attitudes for the day.   Also, reading books on godly character such as the Miller Family series or missionary biographies seemed to help.

heroes-then-and-now

Did your children seem to struggle with the more difficult subjects?  I found most of our children did better at concentrating in the morning, so it worked well to have them work on Language Arts and Math in the morning since these both required a lot of focus and concentration.  Determine when your child tends to be most productive or able to focus and assign the harder subjects for that time of day.

 

Do your children seem to lose focus and get distracted easily? It’s also very important to take breaks throughout the school day. Young children especially need stretch breaks every 15-20 minutes. As children get older, they can work for longer periods, but you should give your child opportunities to stretch and move around – it really improves their focus and ability to concentrate.  Brain Breaks, by Heather Haupt, is a great resource to help you come up with ideas for what to do during breaks throughout your school day.

 

Did you feel stretched in many different directions throughout the day because more than one child needed help from you at the same time?  Could you rearrange the schedule so only one child would need your help at a time? Can you assign older siblings to care for little ones while you’re working with another child on a school subject?

 

Did you feel overwhelmed trying to accomplish all that you had planned for each day?  Do you need to cut back some on what you’re trying to get done on a given day?  There are so many great things to learn! I understand the desire to pack the day full of great learning opportunities…but if it’s causing you stress or your children are overwhelmed because you’re trying to fit too many things in a day, then you need to cut back.  As you cut back, you’ll find that there will be natural learning opportunities that God will provide and it will be much more relaxed and enjoyable!

 

  1. Were there distractions or frustrations that you need to address and find solutions for?

If you have babies, toddlers or preschoolers around, you WILL have distractions.  It’s part of the territory of having little ones around.  It can help if you prepare some things ahead of time for them to do so they can play independently for a little while.  Check out my blog post on Activity Boxes for Preschoolers to get some ideas.  Also, as I mentioned earlier, having older siblings help with the little ones while you’re helping another child with their school work can keep distractions down as well.

One of our biggest distractions were the family dogs.  It was a challenge to keep them from wanting the children’s attention, but we found that if they were given some focused time before we started school (playing, going for a walk, etc.) they were less likely to interrupt things.  Sometimes it was the children that caused the distraction because they initiated interaction with the dogs. It’s hard to stay focused when there’s a fun pet to play with! There’s always the option of keeping the family pet in a different area of the house during school time if necessary.

Sibling rivalry can also be a distraction. When you’re spending 24/7 with one another, some conflict is normal.  We found these great resources to help you deal with sibling conflict:  “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” by the O’Malley family, and the “Young Peacemakers” study.

young-peacemaker

  1. How about the curriculum you’re using? Is it working well for you? Is it working well for your children?

I know it’s hard to think of changing curriculum mid-year, but if you have a curriculum that you are dissatisfied with, or your child doesn’t like, is it truly worth going through another four months using it?  Switching curriculum is okay!  Give yourself permission to sell or give away curriculum that doesn’t work for you. Because Math and Language Arts are sequential and follow a specific order of the material your child is learning, you need to be careful that you check that the new curriculum you choose covers all that your child might not have studied yet in the curriculum you are getting rid of.  (Tip: look at the table of contents in both curriculums and compare to see that your child won’t miss any important information)

  1. Did you have too many activities outside the home that kept you from finishing your school work well? Or do you need to increase your activities outside the home to help give your children more opportunities for growth?

I think it’s a common struggle to find the right balance of activities that we’re involved in outside the home.  Too many activities, and you’re not really HOME schooling anymore, you’re CAR schooling… but it’s good to have some interaction and opportunities outside the home to help your children become more well-rounded and mature as well.  You’ll know if you have too many activities because the stress will show itself through irritability in the children, and probably in you as well.  Children who are over busy and stressed by it will often act out. Or if your children become very shy and struggle in social situations, they may need more activities outside the home to help build their confidence in handling social situations.  Finding that balance takes time and you need to be intentional and think through what your family needs.

  1. Take time to assess each child’s progress in three areas: spiritual growth, character growth and academic growth.

One of the reasons many of us choose to homeschool is so we can help our children grow spiritually and help them develop godly character.  We need to be intentional about this, or we may end up not focusing on these areas as much as academics.

Spiritual growth can come through family devotions, church programs, and our children’s personal devotional times as well. Have you given enough focus on helping your children grow spiritually this last semester? Do you need to do more in this area?

How about character growth? Have you spent enough time focusing on developing godly character in your children?  There are a lot of great resources out there to help our children grow in character. If you need more info on that, see my series of blog posts on developing godly character.  MACHE also has some great articles written by Kris Hage in each of the Paper MACHE magazines that focus on building godly character. Go to www.mache.org and find the past Paper MACHE magazines to check these out.

Homeschool parents tend to be very aware of how their children are doing in each subject because they’re interacting with them each day and checking their work. Some homeschoolers don’t believe in assigning a grade level (i.e. 1st grade, 2nd grade, etc.) to their child. Others are very concerned that their child is at the grade level appropriate for their age; and then there are those who fall somewhere in between these two views. Either way, we need to assess where our children are at academically to determine if we need to change what we’re doing to help them be more successful in their learning.

A great resource to use to assess how your child is doing academically is the book “What Your Child Needs to Know When” by Robin Scarlata.

As homeschoolers, we often wonder if we’re doing enough, and this book can help you assess just that.  She not only gives you information on what your child should know according to their grade level academically, but she also gives some great character building resources with scripture!   Her book helps you know what your child needs to know according to the state and also according to the Bible.

what-your-child-needs-to-know-when

Another resource for assessing your child academically or to use for planning what to cover each year is “Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School”  by Rebecca  Rupp.

home-learning-year-by-year

I’ve also put together a free assessment tool to use for each of your children.  This FREE individual student Evaluation and Goal Setting Sheet has questions that you can ask yourself about each child to help you think through how that child is doing in these three areas listed here. Please click HERE to download it and print out a copy for each child.  I pray it will be a helpful tool as you think through how to help your child grow in these areas.

May the Lord bless you and your homeschool as you seek to follow His leading on how to most effectively teach your children!  May 2017 be a wonderful year of great learning opportunities and growth for your family!

Kris 

its-mid-year-evalution-time

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *