January Homeschool Checklist: Taking InventoryValerie Mcclintick
The new year is here, and even though it isn’t a new homeschool year, there is some housekeeping to be done! January is the perfect time to do a mid-year review of your homeschool, assess your progress, and set goals for the rest of the year. This ultimate January homeschool checklist will get your homeschool organizing and thriving.
Tasks to Focus on in January
- Mid-year review of your homeschool
- Portfolio organization and planning
- Student assessments
- Homeschool goal setting and evaluation
- Organization systems for your homeschool
How to Do a Mid-Year Homeschool Review
Do you remember the excitement when you finished plans for the year and the new books arrived? How are you feeling about your choices, now? Sometimes, we have the “best” plans but they just are not the best for our family. Or, we realize that there are gaps that need to be filled. A mid-year review gives you the opportunity to evaluate how your homeschool is running, and how your children are learning. This is not a time to be overly critical. If aspects of your homeschool need to be changed, feel empowered that you can change for the better. Do not worry about the “should have” or “could have” ideas. The best homeschool are ones that grow and change with family needs.
Mid-Year Homeschool Review Steps:
- Evaluate how you feel about each book or curriculum resource. Is the beautiful language arts book dull and dry? Are you pleasantly surprised by the last minute science choice? Do you wish you had never bought that geography curriculum? Be honest with yourself and make a list of what you would like to change in your homeschool.
- Ask the children about how they feel. Child input is essential to a healthy homeschool. Ask them to recount how they feel about their progress and resources.
- Track your goals and set new ones. Have you met your goals for first semester? Are there topics you still haven’t addressed? Where do you want to be in June?
- Organize and evaluate your portfolios.
- Assess your students and look for gaps and growth. See if anyone is ready to skip ahead, or needs some extra support to keep going. Where have they blossomed? Where are they struggling?
- Look at organization systems in your homeschool. Where do you need more organization? Are the systems you have working or do they need a little tweak?
- Consider your homeschooling schedule. Is your general plan for the day still working? Are there unexpected difficulties that you need to address? Are you spending enough time on schooling? Are you spending too much?
- Formulate a plan to fix what is broken. Decide which areas need the most attention. Choose how you will address these concerns.
- Revise your plans for the year and proceed with confidence.
Tracking your homeschool goals is essential to meeting them. It also helps you form better goals in the future. Look at what you planned to do before the year began. How are you doing with that plan? Are you meeting your goals? Have you surpassed them?
- Take out your homeschool checklist of goals for the year
- Check off the ones that have been met
- Circle those that you have not gotten around to
- Evaluate if your original goals are realistic
- Decide which goals were easy to meet.
- Rework goals that are unrealistic
- Rewrite your goals list for the rest of the year
Portfolio Planning and Maintenance
Portfolios are the perfect way to track progress and evaluate your children. They also provide ongoing records of what you learned for state evaluations. However, building a portfolio from scratch in June is a daunting task. Take the time to plan what you will be including and do some maintenance work on your portfolios, now. This will make the rest of the year easier and mean that you have a completed portfolio at the end of the year.
- Make a list of what must be included or take out the list you already made
- Make a note of any items missing from the first part of the year
- Ask your child to do a self assessment on their portfolio. How does he or she feel about the work included? What would he or she change?
- Set up a routine for updating portfolio contents
- Update record keeping logs
- Celebrate what you have already accomplished this school year
How to Assess Students with a Homeschool Checklist
We often think of student assessment as tests or stressful requirements. An assessment is simply evaluating where a child is and where he needs to be. It does not have to be a written test and can be completed fairly quickly. A thorough assessment of a student’s abilities, needs, and accomplishments will help you build a better educational experience.
- Where has your child done very well?
- What new skills has he mastered?
- Can he demonstrate his learning in each of the core subjects?
- Where is he struggling?
- Is there a gap that needs to be filled?
- How is his learning style affecting his progress?
- Is he investing enough time and effort into his studies?
- Is there something that would make his learning easier?
- Are there environmental factors? Work space? Noise levels? Dietary needs? How can you provide a better environment?
- Is there something your child really wants to learn in the new year?
Tips for Homeschooling in January
It is important to not be overly hard on yourself in January. A new year is a new beginning. You have 365 opportunities ahead of you. Focus more on what you have accomplished and less on what you didn’t. Also, do not take too long doing a mid-year assessment. Work through the January homeschool checklist and move on. There is still plenty of year left for homeschooling.
- Go gentle on yourself and your children
- Take the time to work through the checklist and evaluations, but don’t spend too long.
- Approach the next half of the school year with optimism
- Make sure your children know what they are doing well, and where they can improve
- Be willing to let go of resources, goals, or preconceptions that don’t serve your family
- Celebrate how far you have come