07 Apr, 2023 SPRINGING toward the end of the homeschool year
Advice & Opinion
By Kathryn Knight
Images: Deposit Photo
Spring is exciting for many reasons. We celebrate Easter. We can put away our coat and spend more time enjoying the warm sunshine. I can put a big check mark on another successful homeschool year.
As we wrap up each subject, I start looking forward to the next year. New books. New ideas to learn along with my children. Field trips to plan. As a longtime homeschool mom, I know that the end of school is often fuzzy; it tapers off instead of ending on a precise day like traditional schools. Even if you do not follow a traditional school year calendar (most years, we don’t), spring is still a time to look ahead to the next school year.
One of the most fun things about wrapping up the school year for me is planning for next year. Some folks use the same curriculum again as each kid progresses while some families try new curriculum each year. We fall somewhere in the middle. I have always used Unit Studies, but I’ve tried several and have chosen different Unit Studies as kids grew up and family dynamics changed.
Even if you have the “perfect” curriculum (is there really such a thing?), as you close out this school year, look at your entire homeschool experience with fresh eyes to evaluate what is working and what could be improved. Try to evaluate what went really well and needs to stay as part of your school for next year. Find anything that was not effective and seek to find curriculum that works better for your family. Talk to your kids about what worked for them and what they liked or didn’t like. Although you cannot drop math class because your darling daughter says she doesn’t like it, you can try to find a different curriculum. Maybe add an incentive program for classes that are not a favorite. To encourage spelling diligence, I used to offer a trip to the bookstore and a new book for five perfect spelling tests. A Starbucks gift card works better for my current speller; tailor the rewards for your crew.
Another “next year” idea is to offer your (non-consumable) curriculum to another family either as a gift, trade or loan. Gifting and receiving used curriculum are both blessings. Remember to keep a list of all the books you’ve loaned out so you can make sure to swap back all of your loaned curriculum.
What Was Missed In Your Homeschool Journey?
We homeschool parents all want our kids to have an excellent K-12 education that prepares them for college and beyond. I recently asked a few young, successful 20-something homeschool graduates what they wished they had studied in their K-12 journey. One said geography, another said how to study and take good notes, one mentioned test-taking skills. Interestingly, a young mom of a two-year-old said her families’ academics were fine, but she would have liked to have learned more practical, day-to-day ideas for raising toddlers.
I also asked a mom or two…my favorite answer came from a veteran mom who has graduated all but one of her 11 children. She said although her kids loved all the excellent activities in which they participated over the years, she wished that they had spent more time on Bible memory. I concur. Bible Bee, Scripture Memory Fellowship, the Navigators and many others offer Bible memory programs for all ages.
Enjoy the Journey
The enduring article “Tyranny of the Urgent” shows how easily the important things are left behind in our busy lives. So as you wrap up this year, start planning for next year. Ask other homeschool families what worked for them or what curriculum you could swap. Think of how you could tweak or restructure your homeschool to meet changing family dynamics. Your homeschool is for your kids. You can change what you want and not keep doing the same thing year after year…unless you want to!
This spring, we’re all busy and probably need a break. Remember to enjoy the journey of homeschool and not just sprint through it (I have to remind myself of this often. Did I mention my mental checkmarks as we finish each subject?). One final note to young moms: If you’re in the middle of morning sickness, changing a toddler’s diaper and teaching someone to read or add, it seems that there is a very long road ahead in your homeschool. It will shock you how fast the years pass when all or most of your kids have graduated. As you plan each year and enjoy the journey, keep assessing and restructuring your homeschool to best meet the needs of your family dynamics for next year.
The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team.
Kathryn Knight, EdD, has homeschooled for over a quarter of a century. Four of her five girls have graduated and Kathryn is loving the new adventure of homeschool with an “only” child. She loves teaching all subjects, especially history, and has made an art of educating her kids with hands-on projects, re-enactments and travel.
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