It’s important to perform a homeschool mid-year review to evaluate what is working and what needs adapted in your homeschool.
The Christmas presents have been unwrapped and the decor has been stored away for another year.
Pounds of cookies have been consumed.
You haven’t peeked out from under your covers before 9 am for two weeks.
Why? Because you’re on a homeschool break. You’ve survived the first several months of your homeschool year, so it’s time to relax and take a break from the everyday.
But hold on! There is one thing you need to do as you head back into the school year.
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What do you need to do as you begin homeschooling after the long holiday break?
You need a homeschool mid-year review. You need to evaluate the past few months and figure out what’s working and what, if any, changes need to be made before you continue on with your homeschool year.
Why Do You Need a Mid-Year Review of Your Homeschool Year?
You may be wondering why you need to evaluate your homeschool year when you’re on a break. Shouldn’t you be able to just take some time off?
Of course! We all deserve a break and time to unwind! But it’s during that time when we’re not in the thick of the chaos, stress, and busyness of a homeschool year that we can be most effective in our evaluations.
After we’ve taken time off to spend relaxing with family and friends, we can look back at how our current year has gone with fresh eyes. Without the stress of our day-to-day responsibilities, we can take an honest look over our school year to decide what has worked and what has not.
How to Begin Your Homeschool Mid-Year Review
The very first thing I like to do when reviewing how the school year has gone is to write a list of all of our subjects on a sheet of paper. List everything: not only the math, history, and science, but also what you cover in your morning basket or enrichment lessons.
Once you have your list, then go through and star everything that is working great. Next, put a sad face or a minus sign next to anything that is not working. Anything that is working pretty well and hasn’t been much of a problem can be left unmarked.
After you have your list of what is working and what isn’t, then you’ll want to ask yourself some questions.
Ask Yourself These Questions to Evaluate Your Homeschool Mid-Year
Is Our Curriculum Meeting My Family’s Needs?
Remember that list you made? Go back and look at each item on the list that has your negative symbol next to it. Then determine if the resources or curriculum you are using for those subjects are meeting each child’s needs. If not, then think about why it’s not working. Is your child not ready for it? Does your child need the information presented in a different way? For instance, perhaps instead of using a textbook math curriculum, your child might get more value out of an online curriculum instead.
One subject that isn’t working for us this year is geography. At the beginning of the year, I purchased Geography II from Memoria Press to continue on from last year. However, I realized pretty quickly that my 4th grader was having quite a bit of difficulty with it. So I decided to hold onto the books until next year.
Then I decided to just do some country studies using library books and notebooking pages. The boys enjoyed doing the studies for the first three countries. But then it became too much of a hassle to get to the library and fit the studies into our week. So I decided to move the rest of the country studies to a summer project.
Many times you may need to change curriculum if it’s not working. However, you should ask yourself this question first…
Am I Using the Curriculum in the Most Effective Way?
What if the problem isn’t with the curriculum, but with the way it’s presented?
For example, when we started this school year, I had decided to do our nature study in the afternoons. I thought it would be the perfect time to get outdoors. Plus my 3-year-old still naps at that time, so I figured we would get more done without chasing him around.
However, a couple of months into the school year, I realized that we were having problems fitting our nature study into our day. It wasn’t that we didn’t like it, or didn’t like the resources we use with it. The problem was the time of day. By the afternoon, we all wanted a break. The boys were ready for the school day to be over. Plus, I needed to use my little guy’s nap time for my own work.
Now we cover all of our group work in the mornings. We start our day with our morning basket, then move into our nature study before finishing with the core subjects we do together. It’s working so much better in the morning. A no-cost, easy fix! You may only need to create a better homeschool routine.
So before you rush out to buy new curriculum, think about your why. Is it not working because of how you are presenting it? Or perhaps when you are presenting it? Decide if it’s really the curriculum that’s the problem before making any changes with it. You’ve already bought it, so you might as well try a different time or way to implement it. Then if it’s still not working out, perhaps that’s the time to consider something new.
If you want to learn how to tweak your current curriculum to meet your needs, check out this homeschool masterclass by Cindy of Our Journey Westward. In this hour+ long class, she’ll teach you how to make the curriculum you already have work for you. It’s much cheaper to tweak it than to search and buy new curriculum!
Do I Need to Buy New Curriculum?
Now you may realize through your mid-year review that you do indeed need to choose a different curriculum. We have certainly had to do that before. Sometimes even a curriculum that works one year may not be the best option the following year, as was our case with the geography. Additionally, what worked for your oldest may not fit the needs of your youngest.
Never feel that you are stuck using a certain curriculum. One of the wonderful benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility afforded us to teach our children how we see fit. If a curriculum isn’t working for you, even though you’ve tried using a different approach, then stop using it. Sell it, share it with a friend, or shelf it for another year or child. Remember that your curriculum is there to guide your teaching, not to control your teaching!
Is Our Learning Area Best Serving Our Needs?
Along with evaluating your curriculum to consider if it’s best meeting your children’s needs, you should also look at your learning areas. Especially if you’ve been having discipline issues arise this year, the problem could be where learning is taking place.
For example, several years ago all of my children worked at a table. But I was having discipline problems with my oldest son almost daily. His curriculum was working great, so that wasn’t the issue. After considering their learning environment, I realized that he was being over-stimulated and couldn’t focus.
This problem that had been driving me crazy for months had the easiest solution. All we had to do was bring down a small desk from his room. We placed it against the wall, so he could sit alone with no distractions in front of him.
If you are having difficulty with behaviors or children bothering each other when they are supposed to be working, perhaps a move in furniture will solve the problem. Maybe your oldest needs the quiet of their bedroom to focus on their work. Perhaps you need to have a highly distracted child face a bare wall to work in a timely manner.
Do I need to organize our materials better?
Additionally, organization can be a problem. If children do not have a set area in which to keep their work, or their own materials with which to work, it can create messes and arguments. Both of those can waste precious school time.
In this post on organizing your homeschool, I mention that each of my children have their own spaces to place their school supplies. We use bookshelves and baskets to store their books and binders. Caddies store their school supplies. Those have been so wonderful in reducing fighting over whose pencil is where or who the box of crayons belongs to. Especially for the items that we can’t color code.
Do you need a new homeschool routine? When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll receive homeschooling tips, ideas, and resources in your email inbox. As a thank-you bonus, you’ll also receive my 5 step guide to Create Your Own Weekly Homeschool Routine.
To sum it all up…
Spend time over your break, and even that first week back, evaluating how your homeschool year is working so far. Decide how your curriculum is meeting your child’s needs, or if you need to switch to something different. However, you should consider that sometimes just a change in the time of day or the way the work is presented will make all the difference. Also, glance around your learning area to determine if better organization or a change in design will better equip your children for learning. Evaluating your homeschool in a mid-year review will ensure that the second half of your school year goes smoothly.