Reviewing Your Homeschool Year: How to Know When It Isn't Working...And a Look at My School Year Review

You picked that perfect math curriculum this year, the one that you were just sure was going to be so great for all of the kids. Everybody jumped into it at the start of your new school year. But by the time Christmas came around, all of the children were frustrated. You were frustrated. This did not work as well as expected. The problem was that you couldn’t afford to buy another curriculum then. Your curriculum budget was used up. So you plugged along, making it work through the rest of the school year.

Does this sound familiar? It’s an experience I’ve had multiple times over our years of homeschooling. Sometimes the perfect curriculum isn’t perfect for your children. But you just don’t know until you’ve used it for a while. That’s one reason that homeschooling is great. When something doesn’t work, you have the opportunity to change it and do what does work.
Whether you take all summer off of school like a traditional school or you only take a little time off and homeschool through the summer, the break between one school year and the next is a perfect time to review what you’ve been doing to see if it’s really working for your family. There are a few areas I always like to think about when I’m reviewing our homeschool year.
Reviewing your homeschool year

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The Curriculum

This is a pretty obvious one. I love homeschooling because we can be flexible and change curriculum when we need to. I can even have different kids working with different curricula. It is sometimes difficult to change up a curriculum in the middle of the school year. But when you have a break and move on to the new school year, you can make curriculum changes as needed.

The Schedule

It’s amazing that homeschoolers are often criticized for being unsocialized when the fact is that we are often so busy that we and our children become tired and burned out. When we stop and take a break before the next school year, it’s a good time to reevaluate your schedule. Think about outside co-ops and extracurricular activities. Think about the sports your kids are involved in. Think about your church activities. Do you need to cut things from your schedule?
A book that helped me tremendously in looking at my schedule and fitting in activities was Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell.. I will say that I do not follow as strict a schedule as they recommend. We are much more flexible. But the book helped me because it showed me how to list out all we do in a day to visually see how it fits in. And it helped me to get a concept about how to see if activities are going to fit in or be too much.

The Planning

Do you have a lesson planning system that works? Some people cringe at the very thought of planning because they like spontaneity and don’t like a strict schedule. But if you don’t have any kind of plan, often no school work gets done. If you find that it isn’t working because you don’t ever seem to get school work done, it’s time to find a planning system that works for your family.  Is your planning system working?

The Other Stuff

Here’s the thing about homeschooling. It happens in the midst of all of the other life that’s going on at home. Besides homeschooling, you’re also cooking and cleaning and taking care of younger siblings and nurturing a marriage. There is no such thing as perfectly balancing all of your roles all of the time. During different seasons of life, you’re going to need to devote time to different things. During your school break, take time to evaluate all this other “stuff.” Do you need to change up how the kids are doing chores to help with housework? Do you need to start using a meal plan to help with cooking meals every day?
Build-a-Menu is a meal planning resources that has helped me at times. This online meal planner has recipes to choose from and allows you to build your own menu, complete with shopping list. they also offer preplanned menus that you can opt to have emailed to you each week. The preplanned weekly menu comes as a bonus to a membership.
The things that are working really well in our homeschool:
  • CTC Math- I’m almost afraid to say we’ve found a math curriculum that seems to be working for all of the kids. I’m afraid I’ll jinx something. But by the end of this school year all four kids are using CTC math and doing well with it. I’ve reviewed CTC here, and I have another review of it coming up.
  • My Father’s World- I still love My Father’s World for Bible, history, and literature. I’m using it again for my younger girls and for Kathryne’s senior year of high school. I love the living books it uses and the cycling through the time periods of history. Ashlyne and Rachel will be covering ancient history this year while Kathryne covers modern American history.
  • High school co-op- Kathryne loved the class she took at our local high school co-op. She’s taking three classes through the co-op this coming year, and Charles is taking one. I’m also teaching a class because this helps me to pay for their classes.
  • Extracurricular activities- We backed off this year of the amount of extracurricular activities we were involved in. It’s been a very good decision. Charles is working now, so that has made more running back and forth with me, and the high school co-op adds running around time as well. We’re not planning to add more activities this year except for the extra co-op classes.
Things that aren’t working so well:
  • Chores- You’d think that in almost seventeen years of parenting, I’d have this whole chores thing figured out. But it’s not so. I need to be more diligent about holding kids accountable for doing chores because I know that only be being accountable will they actually consistently accomplish their chores.
  • Meal planning- Uggh. Can I just skip working on this on and just accept the fact that I don’t cook? Maybe we could all become fruititarians and only eat apples and bananas?
I love the feel of wrapping up one year and starting a next. I feel like it’s a fresh start, a chance for new beginnings. Having the chance to review what’s been working and what hasn’t helps us to get started with a new year on the right foot.
 Planning your homeschool
What’s working…or not…in your homeschool?

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