This is the time of year that I undertake to review where we are and take a look at where we should be. The two are rarely the same.
We are currently at week nineteen and the only reason we are is that I had us start in early August. I took stock of the calendar for the year and realizing that we had a week long Thanksgiving vacation, several big family events, and a good long break in Advent (for my sanity) I started us even earlier than I usually do.
An early start is only early if you are following the traditional school calendar of September to June and many homeschool families do not. I try to do August to May since we devote much of May to our Shakespeare production and I travel a great deal in spring. This is what works best for our family right now. I would actually love to switch to all year long school with long breaks in between semesters but it just isn’t workable at this time.
So, the review.
On a quarterly basis I use a homeschool teacher service day to do a review of the children’s work and the schedule but I also find a mid-year review of myself, my goals for the homeschool, my goals for my work and check on the temperature of the family. This keeps us all on schedule, on task and generally healthy mentally (as much as can be expected).
I started my mid-year review two weeks ago by shanghai’ing my husband for a mid afternoon date at the diner and telling him my world was coming apart at the seams. To many outside commitments (again) and too little time home, was resulting in my being behind in almost every aspect of life. The big picture was not a pretty picture and I was (and continue to be, although a little less so) more frazzled than I had ever been.
We brainstormed some solutions and came up with a few strategies for going forward. We instituted a shut down on all extra activities, nothing new, and tried to find solutions for lightening the load. It still is bad but I’m hopeful things will get better.
Next was to revamp the morning basket, review the chore charts, look at the lesson plans and make a new winter/early spring schedule.
To help me organize my thoughts I typed up an easy chart to attach to my clipboard while I brainstormed a big picture plan for each of my students. For example for Erin in January I need to amp up her SAT prep and scheduled a few AP exams for the spring. She has several performances coming up and a lot of rehearsals to keep track of as well as home time practice. So a little chart was in order to keep track of the goals and such.
I am happy to share it with you here in both Word and PDF. Please just use it for your own personal planning.
Other things I write in the chart are specific goals for the month, for example Sean needs to master the multiplication tables (Sean has a learning disability so this has been slow going), Brendan needs to practice sounding out and Bridget needs practice in her cursive handwriting. I use the chart for very broad goals, some of which are not school related at all, mastering a chore or character trait is also recorded.
Like Dawn this process also gets me thinking about upcoming reading assignments, books stacks, read-a-louds, and book baskets so I’ll be posting all about that pretty soon.
Do you do a mid year review?
Hi Mary Ellen,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on reviewing and planning. We have been homeschooling for five years. With an eighth grader this year and plans to homeschool for high school, do you have any thoughts, resources, ideas for planning out the high school years and staying on track.
Dear Ann: Thank you for commenting. I do have many ideas for high school. I have successfully graduated one and have a junior right now, as well as a seventh and eighth grader, so we are all about high school. Look for a post in the next few days.
This is great, Mary Ellen! I just started doing a mid year review because we are using Kolbe for high school and I needed to send it semester reports. It was a shocking amount of work and my husband and I had a world coming apart at the seams kind of talk as well. I feel much better going forward after completing it though. Definitely a great idea.
Jamie Salvucci says
I would love a post about how you DO handle outside activities. I have four kids. Only two are school ages (3rd and 1st) and already this year I was overwhelmed with the commitments. We are getting the work done, but not how I want it and the leisure time…where you can read aloud and bake etc etc….just isn’t happening. Thankfully this week, more than halfway through our school year, I was able to switch two things to a different day and now we only have activities twice a week. I am already worrying about next year….and forget when all four are school aged.
Thanks for asking Jamie, I’m working on such a post (if only I could blog from the car :))