Many homeschoolers take a break from schooling at least some of the time in December, in order to enjoy the holidays. January can bring a new jumpstart to the educational process, as families “get back into the groove” following traveling, hosting, and Christmas events. The new year is the perfect time to take a look at your homeschool and do some reevaluation – what is going well? What needs to be changed?
Reevaluate your schedule. Look at the days and hours you homeschool. Is it working for your family? Does something need to be tweaked? TheHomeSchoolMom offers a free homeschool planner and links to a number of third party planners and organizers to help with scheduling, or you can check out these guidelines for homeschool schedules. Consider some of these ideas:
- Homeschool at night (or later in the afternoon) for children who are “night persons”
- Start with the least desirable (or most difficult) academic tasks and move to the most fun
- Make the most of naptimes for younger children – do academic work that requires more concentration for older siblings (or more direct teaching from you) during this period
- Save Fridays as “field trip day”
- Do projects or science experiments in the afternoon, when attention is waning
- Take academic assignments for siblings with you to sports practice, piano lessons, or other extra-curricular activities, and school “on the road”.
Reevaluate your curricula. Some curricula looks great on the shelf, or in the catalog, but just doesn’t work for a particular child. If your child is struggling with a particular subject, or lacks interest in a subject area, it may be that simply changing the materials you use could make all the difference. Likewise, by adding in a new, exciting resource, you can reignite your child’s passion in a particular area. Keep in mind your child’s learning style as you choose curricula; choose resources that are more hands on for kinesthetic learners, materials with lots of graphics and colors for visual learners, etc. TheHomeSchoolMom offers plenty of homeschool curriculum reviews by homeschoolers who have used the resources themselves. Consider these ideas for the new year:
- Find new ways to utilize online resources, such as educational websites, videos, interactive educational games, online books, and research resources.
- Incorporate some field trips to places that related to what you are studying.
- Attend a homeschool convention in your state. Homeschool conventions have incredible curriculum fairs, as well as workshops on how to choose the best homeschool curriculum. Check out TheHomeSchoolMom's updated list of homeschool conventions by state.
Reevaluate your priorities. In spite of the fact that we often look at other homeschoolers and believe “they” have it all figured out, no one gets it all done perfectly. There is only so much time, and lots with which to fill it! Take this time at the new year to look anew at the things you want for your homeschool, and prioritize what you consider to be most important. Is it having your child be able to read well? Is it inculcating certain values and character? Is it instilling a love for learning? It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of homeschooling so that we forget to focus on those things we actually consider to be paramount. If one of your biggest priorities is to develop children who have a sense of responsibility, then instead of filling up your day with academic tasks, take some time every day to have your kids take care of their chores around the house. Pay attention at the beginning of 2011 to whether or not your daily homeschool activities are actually moving you along the path toward the outcomes you desire.
Happy New Year!