Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mid-Year Check-Up: 3 Questions to Direct the Rest of the Homeschool Year

January is fast approaching. This is one of my favorite times of year because it marks the midpoint of the homeschool year. It's time to evaluate how the school year is going. I decide where we have met, exceeded, or fallen short of our plans. I often realize that the priorities and goals we set at the beginning of the school year no longer reflect the children I have now. My children have grown and changed. Depending on the year I may need to tweak things a bit or I may need completely new priorities and plans.

This week I think about each child as an individual. I want to make adjustments to our course for the rest of the school year. It is a simple process that consists of just three questions.

What are this child's strengths?

These areas are ones that I want to encourage but may not need to provide as much support. We tend to use our strengths out of habit. If the child's strengths are writing and art then I'll be sure to offer opportunities for them to use them but I won't prioritize one on one work focused on these areas as often. They don't need me right beside them every day for these areas.

What are this child's weak areas?

These are areas that a child needs more support, areas that they struggle in. In the example above the child's weak areas might be word problems and following directions. When they are doing word problems my one on one support and partnering can be the weight tipping the scale toward success. I can be their guide, their reminder, and their cheerleader. Effort put into practice in a weak area consistently will help it turn into a strength. Eventually.

What is ONE weak area we want to give priority to for the next several months?

I try to select one area that I think will make the biggest difference for my child to have support and to give some extra focus to in the coming months. Choosing more than that makes for an overwhelmed child, and an overwhelmed child shuts down. We have time. They do not need to master every thing in one month or year. Learning is a lifelong pursuit.

An example - My 7 turning 8 year old Oliver and I will focus on reading independence. He is so close to that crossover to being an independent reader. Becoming an independent reader will have massive impact on Oliver's ability to learn any time he wants to. It is a foundational skill.
Giving priority to one weak area means I will do my best to make sure there is consistent opportunity to work together on that weak area. I give support, I find ways to encourage the child's practice, and as much as possible I help to make it fun. With Oliver this means we will work daily in All About Reading level 2. We will play games with words. We will find books on topics he is interested in and will partner read - taking turns sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph.

I have nine children and seeing how they develop and learn in different ways and timelines is fascinating. Children truly are individuals. I am excited to see just what growth and changes will happen with consistent, focused effort in one weak area.

Do you do a mid-school-year evaluation? Will you be adjusting goals and priorities for the next few months of learning?


  1. How did your nature study for science go this autumn? It's something we try to do once a week - on Fridays, but I will admit that some weeks it doesn't get done or it's more of a wander around outside and draw what we see/try to identify something but that's as far as it gets. Which I know is perfectly fine, but I worry that my own lack of knowledge about the intricate workings in nature may keep me from sharing/teaching them really neat stuff! I'm trying to learn along side with them and I'm just hoping to at least peak their interest in nature - which I think most of them are.

    1. It went ok. I've decided that nature study for us is a mix of getting out in nature and bringing nature indoors to explore. So some of the things we did this fall:
      - Observed several different plants in an ongoing, year-long nature study. We do this by going to Dawes Arboretum to check on them. While we are there, sometimes we go into the nature center to sit at the bird window and ID birds, watch the bees, etc.
      - Spent time in our own backyard, identified bugs, creatures, tracks, birds.
      - Stargazing. Tracking the phases of the moon.
      - Weather watching. Checking temperature, looking at clouds, watching storms.
      - Indoor - rock studies, insect studies of dead specimien, looking at seeds in our foods, dissecting flowers, watching our pets (cat outside, hermit crabs, snake, bearded dragons). We've brought in leaves to study.
      - Leaf and bark rubbings, then identifying trees.
      I don't know nearly enough. And the kids generally haven't enjoyed nature journaling for long. I figure that if we just keep at it then we can spark interests.

  2. On my wish list for the week is interviews with each kid so I can so some mid-year evaluations. Odds are I'll post them as I get them done. :)

    Oliver's goal sounds great. I wish you both well with that. :)

    1. Interviews are so fun, I look forward to reading about yours!

  3. I hadn't thought much about checking where we're at in our work. I know textbook wise we're right on track for where I wanted us to be. Some other things I'll actually have to sit down and think about ... plus I probably should ask the kids how they're liking things lol


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