Setting Goals & Choosing Curriculum
It's the time of year when many homeschool moms are busy planning for the upcoming school year, choosing subjects, buying curriculum, and all the work that's involved in that process. While you're in the middle of all those homeschool catalogs and shopping lists, don't forget to plan for a restful homeschool year.
Part of creating a restful homeschooling environment is focusing on what's important. If you find yourself frazzled from trying to juggle too many subjects, it might be time to pare it down.
When I find myself feeling that way, I take a moment to sit down with the goals I set at the beginning of the year, and really take stock. Have I been focusing on my goals? Or have I been so busy trying to fit in all the extras and other subjects that don't really meet my goals? Will we accomplish more if we cut back?
It takes time and often painful decisions have to be made. Sure, that pretty new program seems like lots of fun. But if it's throwing you off your game, messing with your schedule and generally creating chaos, it might be time to set it aside.
That doesn't mean you'll never use it. Consider it a summer learning program instead - when you'll have time for more interest-led pursuits.
It really all comes down to your goals
One of the most important parts of planning your homeschool year is to assess your goals and set new ones. Before you start buying all those new programs.
It's one thing to just purchase the next level of those programs that work for your and your kids. But don't create a whole new plan without setting some goals first.
Each year our focus has been a bit different, depending on TJ's age, what skills I thought she needed to work on, and what life events might disrupt our usual environment.
For example, my focus for 5th grade was twofold. I wanted to work towards solidifying her math skills before beginning the upper-level math sequence in 7th grade and I wanted to focus on her writing skills - namely taking notes, outlining, and writing a one-paragraph report.
So, when we would read and work on history assignments, I made sure we were working on her writing goals a little bit every day.
For math, it involved a new program (which didn't work for us) and returning to our standby program and just making sure she worked on math every day.
Of course, we covered more subjects and lots of fun things, but I always had the bigger picture of my goals for the year in mind.
Once I know what we'll be focusing on for the coming school year, I am ready to get to the fun part - buying all those new books!
Most of the time, it's fairly simple - we just buy the next level in our current program.
Sometimes that means taking the leap with something new. But there are a few steps I take before clicking buy.
Evaluating new programs
My first step after considering a new program is to compare it to my goals for the year. Will it help me meet my goals? Is it just a fun extra (that might be okay or not, depending on how full our schedule is)?
Then I consider my teaching style and my daughter’s learning style. Will I find it easy to teach from? How much adapting will I need to do for my daughter?
Finally, I consider how much extra work will be involved. Will I need to spend much extra time preparing each week? How much tweaking will I need to do before it will be a good fit for us? How much time will it take each day/week?
Sometimes a program looks good on aper and even might fit your goals, but if it’s going to take over your homeschool day, it might not be such a great program for your family.
Will these programs promote a restful homeschool?
The final question to consider – will this help me achieve a restful learning environment?
Sometimes we want to make sure every possible contingency is covered and we’re leaving no gaps in our children’s education – to our detriment. We bog ourselves down with too many programs and books, creating stress, or worse, killing a love of learning.
Instead, pare back on the programs (it’s okay to have some gaps!) and create a restful environment conducive for learning and your children will thrive.
My friends Chelli from The Planted Trees and Sara at Classically Homeschooling are also sharing their thoughts on choosing curriculum while maintaining a restful homeschool check out their posts by clicking the links above or by clicking on the images below.