Close your eyes and imagine it’s August or September. Your bookshelves and homeschool supplies are nicely organized, and the spines on your teacher’s manuals are barely cracked. You’ve decided on this year’s curriculum, and you’re ready to go: it’s going to be an AWESOME year. All you need to do is establish your routine or schedule, and you can homeschool on autopilot for the whole year, right?
I mean, unless you never make any mistakes choosing curriculum, all of your activities end up being a good fit for your family, and your children progress developmentally and academically precisely how you planned they would.
If this is you, by all means, stop reading now. But if you, like me, have hit a few roadblocks or are maybe even feeling a little bit dismayed or frustrated by how your plans are working out, it’s time for a mid-year homeschool review.
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It is important to set yourself up for success in the beginning with routines, habits, and wise choices — but there is some maintenance required from time to time. Halfway through the year is a great time to do a little homeschool check-up.
Why do a mid-year homeschool review?
- The curriculum or learning plan you set out on may not be meeting the needs of your children.
- The work you and your children are doing may not be advancing you towards meeting your goals.
- You may actually not even be doing what you planned on doing (good intentions and all that!)
- The extra-curricular activities you are participating in may not be meeting the needs of you or your children or contributing to your homeschool goals.
- You may have fallen off course, behind schedule, or jumped ship altogether!
- You need to evaluate what you are doing before you can plan for what you are going to do. Make sure you do a review BEFORE you get out the curriculum catalogues or go to a homeschool conference!
It’s a good idea to take a critical look mid-year (or more often!), evaluate your home and homeschool, and give yourself the opportunity to make minor or major adjustments in order to be able to meet your original goals or make new ones.
After spending some time reviewing our original plans, weekly schedule, goals, and progress, I’ve made some adjustments in our homeschool and begun planning for next year. Here’s a look at what’s working and what’s not in our homeschool, and the changes I’m making going forward:
What’s working in our homeschool
- Our Morning Time. This year we moved our morning time from the family room to the dining room table. There are so many fewer wiggles this way! I’ve also added a special treat to our Morning Time to make it more cozy and enjoyable for everyone — a hot beverage! We haven’t been having our afternoon tea times/poetry teas as often as we would like, so I consider this a sort of Morning Time/Poetry Tea hybrid.
- Our writing, grammar, and spelling curriculum. We are chugging along making good progress through the lessons and the kids are achieving mastery of the content.
- Math with my 6-year-old. While she is definitely a reluctant participant in our homeschool day, math seems to be coming quite easily for her using Math-U-See Alpha.
- Penmanship. My 9-year-old is still loving all things cursive & copywork, and my 6-year-old has shown a lot of progress. A year ago it was a struggle to get her to pick up a pencil!
- ArtAchieve online art lessons for my 9-year-old. She’s really enjoying these lessons and has produced some beautiful work!
- Latin. This is a first for us, and we have been getting our feet wet using Song School Latin Book 1. My girls are in first and fourth grade, and while the program is below my 9-years old’s level and above her 6-year sister’s, it is perfect for us to do together orally during our Morning Time.
- Chores. My girls are gaining competence in their work around the house and it is making such a difference for me! My 9-year-old recently began loading the dishwasher after meals and doing her own laundry — this makes me such a happy mama! Attitudes surrounding chores have greatly improved as well.
- Using a paper planner. I’m actually not much of a planner (I’m a do the next thing kinda gal), but this year I have been using a paper planner to record our extracurricular activities and what we did each day. It has been great for helping me monitor our progress, adjust our pace, and keep us on track. Since I don’t assign particular subjects/activities to specific days of the week, this ensures that we don’t end up doing grammar 4 days a week while completely forgetting spelling.
What’s not working in our homeschool
- Out-of-home activities. The first half of the school year felt a little too busy for my comfort. Now I’m guarding our time at home more carefully.
- Piano practice. I never remember to make sure the girls are practicing daily, so I’m making piano practice part of their pre-breakfast routine (get dressed, make the bed, do chores, play piano), which will also give them something more productive to do while waiting for breakfast than telling me how hungry they are.
- Math with my 9-year-old. We haven’t completed a single math chapter since before September. She was chugging along all right until she hit lesson 25 in her Math-U-See Gamma and her marks tanked. We’ve been reviewing or drilling ever since with little improvement. Time to try another strategy!
Do you do a mid-year homeschool review in your homeschool? What changes or adjustments have you made to your homeschool this year?