As home schoolers, it seems that we like to double guess our decisions just a few months into the year and then make changes. Why is that? From my personal experience, I believe that some of it is just on a whim, feeling overwhelmed by the choices available to us, while on the other side of that is the fact that our child isn't getting the curriculum we invested in. Being able to sell the curriculum to another home schooler can really make this decision even more enticing, however I would like to share a few tips in knowing when it is time to make mid-year changes and how to incorporate these changes for success.
Have a Form of Evaluate in Place at the Beginning of the Year
With all the pressure a home schooler have, the pressure we put on ourselves out weighs everything else. I have found that by having a way to evaluate my child's progress, is the best way for me to gage if changes are necessary or if the urge is due to try something that a friend is having success incorporating into their home schooling.
Here are my steps of evaluation:
- Create a syllabus for the year – I create a list of books or resources for each subject that I expect my children to complete by the end of the year (being Charlotte Mason home schoolers, living books are our curriculum for most subjects). If we are not half-way through the syllabus by mid-year, we need to evaluate to determine the problem and address it.
- Having a method of education versus just having a curriculum – This is where using the Charlotte Mason method has helped me to understand that learning is all about the atmosphere, not just about getting books done. Methods seem to acknowledge the way an individual child learns and puts an emphasis on the individual verses the subject, resulting in the child being excited about what they are learning verses what is being taught.
- Acknowledging the areas that are important down the road for better success in their life's path, like reading, writing (spelling, grammar and the ability to articulate thoughts into words), arithmetic and comprehension – If for any reason these core educational parts are missing or not where they should be (meaning a steady show of progress for the individual child), then a mid-year change should be a priority.
- Considering the whole education, including character, spiritual and responsibilities – We set HIGH standards for the school year, but it doesn't take long for those standards to be pushed aside and allow habits to derail these standards. Set realistic standards for the year, making progress based off the previous year.
- Determine if there is a problem with how you are leading your home school – Many times it isn't the method of education, the living books or the text books, but the environment or lack of attention we give to the important aspects to the success of our children's education.
Once you have a good sense of what needs to be evaluated, how to evaluate and what is important in the progress of your child's home schooling year, you will be better capable to identify what is wrong and how to fix it.
How to decide what mid-year changes are necessary:
- Making changes to a syllabus – Using living books, as we do, changing a syllabus is rather easy, because it only involves looking for a different title within a category. For instance, if the subject is earth science but your student seems more interested in the animals all around them, you can put aside the books for earth science and use the library to get animal books, make time for observation and even add journaling.
- Methods don't change, curriculum does – if you use a method, like Charlotte Mason, classical or interest lead, you will be able to stick to what is working and critique what doesn't. However going with a straight curriculum (text book), you will run into a lot of expense to make changes and the work you have already done will have to be redone. I like to incorporate books, visuals and audios into all of my subjects, so it will target the learning style of the individual child. Once they have been introduced to a new knowledge, their own excitement is fueled and I can just sit back and watch them enjoy learning.
- Be diligent to the 3-R's of education (reading, writing and arithmetic) and comprehension – If a child is behind in any of these areas, the solution isn't changing curriculum, but rather having a determined focus to push hard until the child gains momentum and success. Pushing through and requiring more in the areas when a child struggles is the perfect way to see progress. Consider breaking up the sessions and utilizing the best time of day that works for the child's attention. I would recommend this be the first thing on the agenda for the day, as it has proved helpful in our home.
- The whole education of a child is the best place to do a mid-year change – After a Christmas break, habits are out of control! This is where I think most families would benefit when considering mid-year changes. Many times it is the other things around the house that get our homeschooling success off track and by evaluating the atmosphere of the home, you can really make some highly effective changes that will impact your homeschool and child for the positive.
- How is the relationship with in your home? If you are finding a lot of strive within your walls, I would recommend implementing a ‘sibling playtime', where your children can learn to enjoy each other. If a child is the one causing strife, omit that child for a time in order to set boundaries for that time. Once they learn to play well together, they will cherish this time.
- How are the chores around your home? This is one of the areas that our family is making as a mid-year change! Finding 102030Go! Chore Chart system to be amazing, we are implementing it in our home. Each child is responsible for little things around the house each day, while I too, have my own chores. By the end of the week, our house will be completely tended to with only 30 minutes a day from each of us! You will easily find that making chores a part of your day, will help the productivity of your homeschooling.
- How are the character traits of your home? Another wonderful aspect of 102030Go! is their Responsibility cards, where the child not only learns to cross off their 10 minutes of prayer, 20 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of chores, but also learns important character traits, their meaning and a scripture to go with it. This is an area that I want to be faithful in doing with my children and will go along perfectly with the Character Sketches that we are using for the next few years. They are working on a homeschool lesson plans to help us home schoolers incorporate these tools within our daily routine! I can't wait… I just love ‘good things'! Be sure to enter below for a chance to win a FREE 102030Go! Family Kit!
- Evaluate what habits you have that are affecting the productivity of your home school – Several years ago, I realized that the little things, like answering the phone or being on the computer during school hours can really effect the productivity of our home schooling and the progressive learning of my children. My mid-year evaluation is always a good time for me to determine if I can do better in any areas. Right now, the ages of my children do allow me to have some computer and phone time (for necessary calls) during school time, but I attempt to be diligent with getting up early so I can utilize those hours more than the schooling hours of my children.