If you follow a traditional school schedule, then you are at the conclusion of another homeschool year! You did it! Give yourself a moment to celebrate! While the past 9 or 10 months are still fresh in your mind, now is the perfect time to reflect on this school year. Was this your first year, your last, or somewhere in between?
The following list of conversation starters is a great way to wrap up this year and plant the initial seeds of the next. This could be a personal reflection with a cup of tea on the sofa. Or perhaps you’d like to make it a family affair and include your spouse and children sitting around the kitchen table. Either way – sit down, relax, and ponder.
Here are some topics for you to consider:
Did you have any goals this year or were you just going with the flow? I always try to set at least a simple goal or two for our year. Maybe it’s something like helping your child master reading, or nailing down those times tables. In our house, I graduated 2 more children! Three down, one to go!
Big or small, what happened this past year that you consider a success? Ending on time? Mastering a new skill? Make a list – it can be anything: a really fun field trip, or a book you read together as a family that everyone loved. Celebrate those wins!
These are intentionally called “unintended outcomes,” not failures! Anything that comes up in this section should not be dwelled upon. Simply acknowledge these issues and create a game plan for moving forward.
Now that you’ve thought about those things that didn’t go as planned, think about why. Does your child need a more hands-on approach to math? Is science always falling off your schedule? Reflect on it decide what you need to do differently next year.
Maybe you found something that really clicked for you and your children this year – a curriculum, a fun class, or a new-to-you homeschool philosophy. Make a list of recommendations to share with other homeschooling parents.
I would guess one of the biggest 2020 incidents beyond your control was COVID-19! Discuss or internally ponder how much of an impact this pandemic had on the end of your homeschooling year. What else provided challenges that you just had to roll with? How will you deal with it going forward?
Did you reach any homeschool milestones? Did your child read their first chapter book cover to cover? Were you able to tackle a difficult math concept with less effort than you expected? We often forget to note these moments of magic. Celebrate them with your children!
Was there a small stack of books leftover that you had hoped to read this semester? Is that awesome science kit you bought last summer still collecting dust at the top of your bookshelf? Think about why those things didn’t happen. Are they not right for your child? Are they boring or uninteresting to your children? Is it something you can pass on to someone else who might appreciate it more? We all tend to hoard curriculum “just in case”, but speaking from years of experience if you haven’t used it yet you probably won’t ever. Let those things go!
Hindsight is 20/20, but take credit for anything unfavorable you saw coming and dealt with proactively! Albert Einstein said, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” But sometimes, solving a problem before it happens teaches you the same lesson.
This has been a stressful year for everyone, but we don’t need to make it more so by trying to do too much. Look over the past year and see what things you can streamline. Did you spend too much time on one subject to the detriment of others? Did you find school taking too long most days? See what you can do to make the next year run more smoothly.
Whether this is a shopping list or a list of research topics for Google, what did you wish you had or had known this past year? It doesn’t have to mean buying an all-new curriculum. Maybe you need to upgrade to a better pencil sharpener or get a new set of color pencils.
You earned it! Do something fun to celebrate this milestone! Homeschooling isn’t easy, but you did it. You completed another year. Bake a cake, plan a family game night or movie night, get some take-out, and give yourself some time to just breathe and rest.
If this lessons learned activity was difficult, you may consider taking notes next year in an informal homeschool journal. I’m a big fan of bullet journalling – it can be a great way to track your day-to-day homeschooling and note those little victories as well as the pitfalls. At the end of the year, flip through the pages and you can easily recall your victories, challenges, and items you wanted to work on.
Not quite done with your school year yet? Bookmark this page and tuck it away until you are ready! You may not be there yet, but you’re closer than yesterday.
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.
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