It’s August and you’re starting to see all of those “Back to School” sale signs again. You’ve purchased all of your curriculum, the blank notebooks, the new pencils, crayons, markers, and gluesticks. You’ve even got things labeled, color-coded, and stacked for each child in his own special basket. But how else can you prepare for a great homeschool year?
We have found that one of the biggest things that makes our homeschool year run smoothly is to (drum roll please):
define the expectations from the very beginning.
This means that we (the parents) have spent time looking over teacher’s manuals and assignment plans, and have determined, more or less, what each child needs to accomplish (or is capable of accomplishing) on a daily/weekly basis to get through this year’s material.
This also means that we sit down with each child and explain these expectations and give them some tangible way to record their progress. We have found this process to be a great help to the smoothness of our schedule and the overall success of the homeschool year.
For instance, we would explain to our child that there are x number of math lessons this year, so we need to do x number of lessons each week to finish. And we add math to a chart for her to check off each day when we finish. Next we add handwriting, reading lists, and other subjects, breaking them all down into manageable weekly chunks (or daily or monthly) if that works better and giving her a way to chart her own progress.
We also explain that though we will help her, she is primarily responsible to see that these are completed and checked off, and we will check in at a certain time each day (or week) to be sure it is happening. We also outline the consequences that could take place if the the expectations are not met.
I believe this process helpful for two reasons:
- Everyone knows what is expected of him/her. There are no surprises, and they are not just waiting for the parents’ directions at every moment.
- The child (in most cases) will rise to the challenge of taking more responsibility for his/her own education.
This pattern can be adjusted for younger children, where you may have a picture chart for them to cross off the assignments as they are completed each day. And for older children, you may go so far as to have them plan out their own lessons for the year in their own lesson plan book or monthly planner. With older children the check up/oversight may be considerably less.
What are your tips for a great homeschool year? We’d love to hear them!
Katie has played teacher for as long as she can remember. With a master’s degree in education and experience teaching public school system, she now teaches her 4 children at home. She is also developing a curriculum for Spanish speaking home educating families. Katie promotes home education in her blogs Educando en el Hogar and Paradise Praises, and resides in Mexico, where her family serves as church planting missionaries.