By Ann Clay
By now you’ve at least decided on your manner of showing evidence of progress, and most of us have completed the steps. Now you know (or soon will) how your child performed this past year. It’s comforting to have some feedback, isn’t it? You know where you need to spend more time and effort with your homeschooler, and it’s clear what the child has learned.
Why not do a further evaluation—of your homeschool itself. It’s a good idea to sit down and reflect on what you’ve accomplished, where you (think you) failed, which approaches seemed to work and which ones fell flat.
You’ll note that much of this examination is in the form of questions. There are no right answers! This is the time for you, the parent(s), to examine how you’ve met your own goals this year.
First, consider how you spent your time this past year. Time is precious. Can you believe how much they’ve grown and changed since last summer? Are you making the most of their growing time?
Do you feel completely spent at the end of the week/day/morning? Is the schedule too packed? On the other hand, is there not enough to do? Do the children wear you out because they need constant attention and entertainment? All of these are good questions to ask ourselves. There’s a definite balance that each family needs to find, and it’s not going to look like anyone else’s.
Consider you family’s values when it comes to spending time. Are you a go-getter parent who wants to cram in loads of experiences for your kids so they won’t miss anything? Perhaps your style is laid back, go-with-the-flow, learn-as-we-go easy. Are you somewhere in between? Take a good hard look at how you and your children have spent the time available during the ‘school’ year and see if it matches your value system. Then see if it’s working for your kids (even within a family, children have different needs). Do they feel a good kind of tired at the end of the day? Are they sleeping well? Or do you hear a lot of griping about how busy (or bored) they are?
List some things you think are worth their time. Here’s a start, but add your own and subtract items that don’t apply:
- Socializing with friends that they choose
- Outdoor play
- Having friends over/visiting friends
- Building/designing/solving problems
- Cooking/growing food
- Learning to drive/ride bike/walk
- Personal health habits and skills
- Handling money, budgeting, earning
- Fixing/repairing/maintaining their belongings and home
- Science experiences/experiments
- Reading for pleasure
- Reading content (other academic areas)
- Field trips
- Taking formal classes
- History/geography/social sciences
- Game night
- Holidays and special days
- Weekly planning together
- Spending time with extended family
- Meals together/cooking together
- Physical activity (formal and informal)
- Artistic expression
- Screen time for fun
- Screen time for learning
- Spending time in nature
That list is pretty daunting, isn’t it? But it’s a reminder that there’s more to homeschooling than passing a test at the end of the year. Is too much (or not enough) time being spent on academics? Are things you value being neglected? Are you over/under-scheduled?
Then there’s the issue of adult burnout. Are we spending too much time trying to stuff in all these experiences for our kids?
Finally, remember how important it is to schedule a non-structured amount of time every day, especially for our kids, but maybe we adults need it too. Jeanne Faulconer, who has successfully homeschooled three very different sons, says, “I had to schedule unscheduled time. Meaning, time at home with no agenda, no friends over, etc. The introverts and inventors in my family needed just plan unscheduled time.”
Read through the links and get thinking about how differently to use time next year.
Ideas of other ways to spend our children’s time:
Teen Activities for Summer (but as homeschoolers, we can tackle this all year long)
Check back next month for Part II of our summer evaluation!