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For the New Year: Getting Your Homeschool Year Back on Track

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I love the start of a new year for many reasons. For one thing, winter and I don't get along. And when we head into January, it's a sign that we're on the way to spring. I also love thinking about the year. I'm a planner, and there's nothing like a blank calendar to plan my whole coming year.

But one of the big reasons I love the new year is because it's a time to make changes, to do things differently, to have another chance. I can set new goals to accomplish what I maybe didn't do well last year. I can plan to try something new. And when it comes to my homeschooling, the new year can be a time to make important changes as we head into the second half of the school year.

I know some folks that have planned their homeschools to run by the year instead of by the traditional school year. I completely understand that way of thinking. For us, it really doesn't matter what we call our school year. And many homeschoolers- us included- do at least some school all year round. But I've kept the traditional school year as our school year because it gives us chance to regroup and make changes over Christmas break before the new year.

And don't we all sometimes need that time to make changes, to get back on track. Occasionally I can see things that have been slipping. Maybe I haven't been following through on checking work. Maybe we need a different schedule. Maybe we need to stick to the schedule we have! Maybe it's a need for different curricula. Whatever we need to do to get back on track, the new year offers us the chance to do that as we head back into school after Christmas break.

So what do you need to do to get back on track before the new year?

1. A new schedule. You may read this and laugh because you don't even have a schedule. I would say that any successful home and homeschool runs better with a schedule. There are different ways of scheduling. Some people like a very detailed schedule. I read Managers of Their Homes early in my homeschooling years. If you've never read it, I highly recommend it. But the schedule that the author teaches you to make is very detailed- measured in thirty minute increments with specific things for every person during every block. I tried that. It doesn't work for me.

What does work for us are routines. We have a way that we start every day. We start by a certain time every day. We have a flow of work that is the same every day. The actual time isn't very detailed. Some days we spend one hour reading history and Bible in the morning. Some days we may only read for thirty minutes. Sometimes we are making it to lunch at 12. Other days it's closer to 12:30. But we follow the same routines every day.

If your schedule hasn't been working for you, take a look at why. Do you need to change something so that it works for your family? Sometimes it really is that we need to be more diligent. But occasionally we just need to tweak the way we're scheduling. The new year gives you the chance to do that.

2. A new curricula. I'm not giving you permission to go to the homeschool bookstore website and order hundreds of dollars of new books. Believe me; I wish I could do that! But sometimes we need to change up what we are doing in school.

Maybe there is a book you're using that just isn't working with your child. Do you have a book on your shelf that might work better? Can you look through the book and try to make adaptations? Maybe you just need to add in something fun. Up until this year there were times in the year that we would just do a fun unit study together. It's been harder this year with Kathryne doing high school work. But, sometimes a fun family study is just what you need to break up the monotony and get kids refocused. Free lapbooks and unit studies can be found all over the web:

Homeschool Share has free lapbooks and unit studies, some based on literature and some themed.
Currclick- has resources to buy but also has some great free stuff always.
Homeschool Helper Online has lots of free lapbooks.

The new year is a perfect time to pick something new and fun to change up what you're doing.

3. New activities. As homeschoolers we are often flooded with choices of activities. I know I'm constantly getting emails about things going on locally for homeschoolers or classes for homeschoolers online. It's easy to get overwhelmed and do too many things. But it's also easy to get bogged down in the same activities and never do anything new.

The new year can be a good time to take a look at the activities you're doing and reevaluate. Maybe you're too busy, and there are things you need to drop. Maybe there is a new activity you think would be good for your family. Use this break over Christmas to take a look and change up some of your family activities for the new year.

Take advantage of the new year and get your homeschool back on track. Hold a family meeting and discuss things that need to change. Get the kids on board, and let the new year be a time to refocus and start anew. I've got a blog post coming up that's going to share some of my new plans for our home, our homeschool, and my blog. Stay tuned.

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