I love Christmas, but I think I love the New Year just about as much. There’s something exciting about a fresh start that makes my heart happy. This is especially true in homeschooling. Usually, by the time October rolls around, I’m feeling a little mentally cluttered and by December, I am screaming for a complete overhaul of everything.
Sometimes, by the time Christmas break rolls around, I am almost convinced that I need to put the kids in public school. Am I the only one?
Thankfully, the winter break usually gives me a bit of perspective. Most of the time, I spend the break thinking over what’s working, what’s not working, and what we need to emphasize in the final semester of the year. The past few years, I’ve developed a pretty good system for re-evaluating my year. Here are some thoughts and questions for you as you look ahead to the second half of the school year.
1. Look at Your Schedule
- What’s really working?
- What’s not really working?
Take a pencil and scratch out what’s not working. Switch things up a bit if needed. You have permission!
2. Shake Up Something
A fresh, new semester calls for a bit of a shakeup. If you happened to find some extra time in your schedule from step one, consider adding something that you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time:
- weekly poetry tea parties
- art studies
- music lessons
- nature study
Usually, the second semester is a long stretch of time without a whole lot of excuses for breaks. So, it’s nice to add in something unique for the second half of the year.
3. Evaluate Your Curriculum
Would your budding scientist benefit from supplementing science with a subscription box service? Maybe you need to add in more hands-on activities. Make a plan for your changes.
A word of advice here...don’t go wild. This is not overhaul time. This is a great time for two or three slight changes. Kids thrive in predictability and routine, so if you try for an overhaul, you might find yourself with a mutiny on your hands. Don’t ask how I know this. Just trust that I’m speaking from experience!
4. Evaluate Your Space
- Is your space working?
- What could be better?
- Could you add a cozy reading nook in the corner?
Maybe your child needs a quieter place to work. Take a day and straighten your bookshelf. Clear out the clutter from your own space, and have the kids clean up theirs. This will definitely help you and your kids to start the year off with a clean slate.
5. Evaluate Academic Progress
Take some time to consider how your child did this last semester.
- Did they progress?
- Are there any areas that need to be revisited?
- Are they thriving with their schoolwork?
- Is their work satisfactory or sloppy and half-hearted?
- How will you address this?
6. Write Goals for the Semester
I have used the practice of goal-writing on and off for many years now, and I can tell you that it is incredibly beneficial to write out goals. Having them written and printed out for quick reference really keeps your mind laser-focused in the areas in which you would like to grow. I write out my personal goals as well as goals for each of my kids.
On my personal goals, I include Family Goals, Work Goals, and Spiritual Goals. For my kids, I write out Academic Goals and Character Goals. I’ve found that by writing down the areas that my kids need to work on, I am more apt to develop opportunities to help them do just that.
7. Have a Heart to Heart
Each semester, I try to sit down with each of my children and have a heart to heart. I want to know how they are feeling about the current flow of our school and home, and I always try to ask how I can help them meet their own personal goals. This is a much needed time of intentional focus, and it’s valuable to both my kids and me. I always walk away from our discussions with ideas that I never would have thought of and insights that I didn’t know.
8. Take Care of You, Mom
Finally, I try to do some self-care during the winter break. It’s a crazy speed we keep during the school year, and I find that I rarely have time to do much for myself. So, during the break, be intentional about giving yourself some breaks.
- Get your hair done.
- Schedule a massage.
- Take an afternoon off.
- Go flea market shopping. (Or is that just me?)
The main goal here is to recharge your batteries. You’ve been running a marathon, Mom. It’s time to take a well deserved break.
It’s easy to get focused on the school things and forget the family things. So before starting the second semester, take some time to do something fun with the family. And don’t forget to count your blessings that you get to take this journey with the people you love the most.
When You Resume Your Schooling
When you do resume your homeschool lessons after your break, expect some regression. A few weeks, or a month, is a long break for new brain pathways. What you learned before the break is still there, even if it seems to have vanished. Expect that you’ll need some review, but it should go more quickly, learning it the second time.
If, after working through this self-evaluation and making changes, you find yourself still dreading part of your homeschool, ask for help. Post in the Sonlight Connections Facebook group or call an Advisor if you would like some additional perspective. You don't have to go it alone any time of the year!
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