Initially, the idea of planning for the next school year paralyzed me. In fact, it was several years into our homeschooling journey before I could successfully tackle the task. Because of my background in education, I did a lot of “shooting from the hip” in the early days. But as we had more children, and as they grew older, I had to get serious about what goals to set and determine how those goals could be reached practically through their everyday lessons.
How Planning Became Easier
Each year, planning became a little easier, not because I could repeat what I had done previously with an older child. I couldn’t; they all learned differently. But planning became easier because I developed a step-by-step process. Every summer I would follow the process, tweaking it at times, but working methodically through each step.
I began to enjoy planning. I actually became excited to decide what the children would be learning, what books they would read, and what type of assignments they were ready to encounter. Oh, I was still overwhelmed with all the details, but the process helped to conquer the paralysis. I could move forward and even find pleasure in the task, and you can, too.
Evaluating Last Year
You start the process by taking a look back at the previous year. Learn to effectively evaluate what your children have done. What did they accomplish? What did your children learn academically? What life skills did they incorporate into their daily lives? What habits did they master? What social skills were embraced? What character traits were developed? How have they matured? What success can you celebrate?
Notice that your evaluation does not focus solely on academics. Of course, academics are important, but that isn’t the whole of educating your child. Evaluate the emotional, social, spiritual, and physical development of your child as well. As you assess where each child is, what he can do, how he is able to think, his attitudes, behavior, and habits, both good and bad, you will be able to better discern the next steps in his education.
Then ask yourself, “What didn’t work? Should I consider a different curriculum, a different approach, less or more challenge? How do I need to change as the parent/teacher?” This information is crucial to discover what changes should be made to ensure success for your students.
Giving You Confidence
Looking back at the previous year guides you as you set new goals and establish your planning for next year. It gives you confidence.
Did you look back before you started your plan for the new year? Even if you will begin lessons in a few weeks, if you haven’t taken the time to evaluate what your children accomplished last year, do it now. It’s not too late. You will be better equipped to give them a strong start and fill them with hope as they anticipate the days ahead.
Would you like assistance with your evaluation process? You will benefit from The ABCs of Looking Back, a valuable, digital fill-in-the-blank resource with questions to guide you through a thorough evaluation.
You can start the new year with confidence!