As you roll into the new year, it's an opportune time to take stock of how things are going in your homeschool. Don't let yourself feel locked in to your original plan for the year; if something isn't working, change it!
Maybe there is a specific curriculum or resource that *sounded* great but isn't really working out, or one of your kids has gotten really into a new interest, or there is a new circumstance that needs to be taken into account. Mid-year planning helps make sure you get off to a fresh start for the new semester. It only takes an hour or two, but it can make a big difference.
Questions to Ponder
The intent of the mid-year review is to look at the following with regards to your home school:
What has been working well?
What needs to be improved?
What needs to be removed from our curriculum?
Is there anything new to focus on?
What specific needs does each child have over the next few months?
You can start the process of your mid-year review by writing out the answers to these questions. Think back on the previous semester with an open mind to identify things that need to be changed.
Sometimes there may be a particular book or curriculum resource that you were very excited about, but that your children don't engage well with. You may find that there are some subjects that never even got off the ground, and you need to decide whether to re-commit to working on those or let them drop off the to-do list.
Think about each of your children and what needs you can identify. Perhaps they are struggling with a certain activity, chore, or skill. Perhaps they need extra support in some specific area. Maybe there is a relationship problem with a sibling or parent, or maybe they just need some new socks.☺Also, think about each child's current interests and ways that you can direct your schooling to make the most of those interests.
Once you have written down your own thoughts, the next step is to have a conversation with each of your children to discuss their goals and desires, needs and wants. During the first couple years I was homeschooling, I didn't involve the children in the planning or mid-year review process. One of the many things I've learned while implementing the Leadership Education model in our home school has been the importance of giving my children ownership of their own educations.
In the end, the goal of our kids' educations is not to cram information into their brains so they can pass a test. Rather, the goal of their education is to prepare them for their own life missions, to allow them to pursue their own passions and lead fulfilling lives.
To this end, rather than acting as the *teacher* with your children as the students, you can choose to be a mentor who supports your children in pursuing their own interests and fulfilling their own goals. Children are ultimately responsible for their own educations, and this means that their own interests are just as important as our own agendas for their learning.
As you talk with your child, write it all down. This shows the children that their input is valued and important. Some years, we like to use this free homeschool compass to record what each child wants to focus on in the coming months.
Give plenty of time for the children to think about what they want to accomplish and what they need. If you have many children, it may work best to hold your mentoring conversation in a quiet place with each child.
While you may make gentle suggestions during this process, it is best to let the children make the final decision on whether or not they want to focus on anything in particular. This gives children a sense of ownership over their own educations, and sets the stage for a successful deep learning experience during the teen years.
Bringing It All Together
Once you've had mentoring conversations with your children, put together an action plan. This is a to-do list for *you*, not for the kids. Plan the things you can do to support each child in the coming months, ways you may need to re-structure your homeschool days, and ways you can lead-out in pursuing your own education alongside your kids.
Not Just for Home Schoolers
Mid-year reviews are not just for home schoolers. Any parents who are fostering a love of learning could benefit from periodic planning and mentoring sessions. These are wonderful tools for focusing your efforts on the things your children need and desire in order to find their own personal missions.