My homeschool year is officially finished. At least, it’s supposed to be. I’m cleaning off the bookcase to get ready for a new year, and a new plan, but I can’t help feeling like I am doing something wrong.
Last year, I dreamed big. I made the same mistake many other homeschoolers do, and I overcommitted. I planned not one language arts curriculum, but three, which overlap in more than one place. I wanted to teach Spanish AND Latin, and the kids are still mastering English.
What was I thinking?
At the end of the year, I realized I had barely dented about a quarter of the books I had planned. We did finish some things (the important things) . . . but my year did not play out the way I had planned.
So what do you do when you are faced with unfinished books at the end of the year?
1. Evaluate what you did finish
When you’re feeling the end of the year woes, the first thing you really need to do is give yourself a reality check. Sure, you didn’t cover everything you wanted this year, but you did teach something.
Partially finished curriculum can still be counted as unit studies. For example, we did 6 weeks of a geography book before I dropped geography. We completed the first unit on cardinal directions and basic maps. My kids get credit for a unit study on maps.
Any curriculum you did finish completely requires some thought–what worked about that particular program? Was the layout easy to teach? Did it cater to a specific learning style? What made it work?
2. Give yourself credit for out-of-the-book success
Maybe you abandoned the books this spring because Junior found a passion for tinkering, and spent a couple weeks in the garage working. Maybe your daughter spent time volunteering at the animal shelter.
Sit down and make a list of the things your children did and learned this year when they were off being kids. Older students can even help brainstorm. I bet your kids learned a lot when you weren’t looking; write those things down and keep the list with your homeschool records.
3. Take a close look at what didn’t work
As much as I’d like to just hide away the books I didn’t finish, it’s important to see why they didn’t work. Was the format too difficult to work with? Did it need more time to plan than I had? Was the content redundant, or too advanced for the children?
You have to know what didn’t work, so you can fix the problem. Sort these books into two piles, one for books that deserve a second try in your home, and one to sell/donate.
4. Check your plan for next year
Now that you have evaluated what worked and why, you need to take a look at next year’s plans. Set yourself up for success. Choose programs that are more like the ones that worked for you in the past, and avoid ones that are like the programs you couldn’t make work. Streamline your plan to avoid curriculum overlap.
This year, my plan is not nearly as long and impressive as my curriculum plans for last year, but I am confident I can come closer to completing them with my children.
Best of luck to you as you plan for a more successful year next year!