Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Planning Your Year Anew

It's once again time to begin planning for the new homeschool year, if you haven't started already.  For anyone new to homeschooling and starting at the very beginning of things, I'd like to share with you a series I've done for newbies: How to Plan Series. You'll find seven simply steps to get you on your way. (Anyone looking for a refresher is encouraged to take a look too.)

For many of us who have been doing this for a minute, we may need a few reminders or some pointers on just what we need to focus on as we end a year and start anew.  For those of us in that boat, I'll be sharing some tips and reminders over the next few weeks to help keep us all on track. This will be 'How to Plan 2.0.'

I invite you to join me each Wednesday for a quick tip/reminder and a resource or two.  I'd love to have your feedback and input on how you're already planning; what things you're already doing to put things in place for your children for next term. We all learn from each other and I invite each of you to share as you're able.

Here's the first tip/reminder in this new series: Take time to assess and evaluate where you and your children are at this moment.

Depending upon how old your children are and what levels they are on will determine just how much you'll need to review and reflect upon. I typically pull out the plans and goals I've written at the top of any given year and look to see if we've met them.  I look at our calendar of events to see just what 'impromptu' activities may have helped get us to where we wanted to be and what may have taken us in different directions.  I also review their journals and logs.

As your children grow, I suggest adding conferencing to your assessment and evaluation time.  Yesterday I had meetings with each of my children that focused mainly on their thoughts about this year--what they enjoyed learning, what they didn't; how much they felt they'd learned and what other things they would have liked to cover this year.  After listening to them and asking additional questions based on their answers, I took notes and asked them to start thinking about what they'd like to add to our learning experiences for the coming months. In another day or so, I'll meet with each again for this follow-up conversation--one of many, I must add. Although I did this more formally this year, we speak often about how they believe they're doing and how they'd like to improve.  I have found that they are taking more ownership in their learning since starting this a few years ago.

Depending upon where you live (state) determines just how you're required to do record keeping for this homeschool year ending. In Georgia, we're only required to write a summary on what each child covered in each subject. By reviewing our goals for the year, talking to the children and making my own assessments as to the successes and challenges we've had I can quickly write these summaries in my planning book.  These summaries are the record keeping that is required and are kept with the previous years' summaries. We then will take time to select some of the work we've done to go into our every growing portfolios--many of them have been lap books.

By taking time to assess and evaluate where you are, you set yourself up for figuring out where you need to go from where you are to where you'd like to be.  Don't feel rushed during this step.  Let me say that again--Don't feel rushed during this step. Paying close attention to just what your children know, how well they can complete specific tasks and what their challenges and deficiencies may be will assist you greatly in planning appropriately for next year.

Part of this assessment should include feedback from your partner/spouse and other family/friends whom your children interact with regularly.  If you're part of a co-op, speaking with other parents who teach or have taught your child or interact with them, may be helpful as well. We spend a lot of time with our children and may not always see things objectively.  Allowing other trusted adults to give us feedback on how they see our children is beneficial.  We may be surprised to hear that our children are learning and exhibiting the habits and behaviors we've been working so hard to teach them. Should we hear things that aren't what we expect to hear or would like to hear about our children, we can use this information too in redirecting and reteaching them. Either way, we can use this feedback for the good.

At present, I am seeing that my children are feeling pretty good about where they are right now. Each of them wants to do more and sees the areas in which they are challenged. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them about what interests they have and what subjects they may want to explore further in their learning. Of course I have a list of things I'd like them to learn too (smile), but that will come after I hear from them first.

Where are you with regards to assessing and evaluating? Have you started this process yet? Remember, knowing where each of your children is and how they're doing is key to planning well for next year. Take your time, listen and we'll move forward to the next step next week.

See you next time.

Be well.

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