How to do a Simple Mid-year Homeschool Assessment ?
Editor’s note: this homeschool assessment process works at the end of any semester, not just in mid-year.
I always love the first weeks of January, don’t you? December can be crazy. After all, if you’re not really intentional about it, getting through all the activities in December is like trying to squish your after-holiday body into a pair of too-tight jeans.
January means a new year and a fresh start to our homeschooling. Remember ripping into the brand new notebooks, art supplies and books last fall? You were full of plans and excitement about the homeschool year ahead.
You know how to regain that organized confidence you started the year with?
Do a simple mid-year homeschool assessment.
Doing a mid-year homeschool assessment will help you:
- look at exactly where you are in your homeschool year.
- figure out what kept you from being where you wanted to be by now (if you’re not where you would like to be).
- make a plan to work through the problem areas so you can have a more smoothly running homeschool and household.
- be more organized and therefore more confident.
You’ll feel so much more energized and organized instead of flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you’ll get done with school on time.
Also, you’ll have a chance to identify and fix some of the issues that have held you back last semester.
So, instead of constantly putting out fires, you’ll be able to be so much more intentional in the way you spend your time.
Calm, confident, and organized. That’ll be you.?
Mid-year homeschool assessment: Academics Step 1 – how far are you?
Let’s start our homeschool assessment with the academics. How’d everyone do last semester? How are your kids progressing in each subject?
First, across the top, figure out and write down how many days of your school year you’ve completed so far. Then divide that by the total number of school days you’ve planned for the year. Then you’ll know what percentage of your homeschool year you’ve completed.
In this example, this family has completed about 50% of their school year.
Then list your kids’ names in the left-hand column. Leave some spaces after each child’s name for the subjects they are studying. (Again, check out the example if that’s unclear.)
By looking at how much of their curriculum your kids have completed, you can see if they’re on track with the homeschooling time you’ve spent so far.
Ideally, you’ve done about the same percentage of school work as the percentage of the year you’ve finished.
Do I hear you laughing?
Unfortunately, you’re not always as far along as you planned. You get busy. Things happen.
In the subjects kids like, they’re often right on schedule. In the areas they (or you) aren’t as crazy about, they can lag behind.
And there are other reasons to be behind… we’ll look at those in a minute.
Now you know in what subject areas you need to spend time catching up.
But that’s only part of the picture.
Mid-year assessment: Academics Step 2 – Are they mastering the material?
It’s helpful to know how much of your planned content or curriculum your kids have completed. But there’s another part of the academic picture to think about.
Do your children actually understand and remember what they are learning?
Are they getting their lessons done, but not retaining much?
Or does it seem like they are understanding and remembering what they’re learning?
To see mastery, look for the following:
- They’re showing in their conversations and narrations they understand the vocabulary of their science topics.
- Their written narrations and reports show improved grammar, spelling or sentence construction.
- Your highschooler is using simple algebra to decide how much of an ingredient to use when tripling a recipe.
- When playing a game or having a discussion, your students exhibit their knowledge of a historical figure or time period.
- At the library, your students ask for extra books about a subject you’re studying that intrigues them.
If they’re showing mastery, that’s fantastic! Great job, Mom!
What if they’re not retaining what they’ve been taught?
They’re getting through their material, but you don’t see any evidence of actual learning.
They aren’t going to learn/remember everything… but you should see some evidence that learning has taken place. Here are some ideas to think about before next semester:
- Math: Do you need to spend more time going over examples? (Or take lessons more slowly, spreading the tougher ones out over two days instead of one?) What about another curriculum that matches the way your child learns better? Hands on learner? Try Math-U-See. Auditory/Visual Learner? How about Teaching Textbooks?
- Do you need to add more activities or experiments to your science to help your students grasp a concept? Put away the science textbooks, especially for younger students, and read some REAL books. Especially books with activities.
- How about making history more real by incorporating more excellent children’s historical fiction into their studies? Or try a literature-based curriculum for a more interesting alternative to textbooks.
- Or maybe your kids would enjoy more high interest hands on activities into their schooling. (Especially good for kinesthetic learners.) Like cooking meals from the time period or culture they’re reading about. Or dramatizing a scene from a story. Or working as a group to throw an authentic Middle Ages banquet.
You can also ask your kids for opinions.
I don’t know why we never think of doing this.
What do they like or not like about what they are learning or how they are learning it? What ideas do they have for making particular school subjects more fun?
Mid-year homeschool Assessment: Step 3 – If you’re behind… analyze WHY.
This might be the most important part of doing a mid-year assessment.
If you’re behind schedule, think about WHY that’s so.
- Have you had a lot of illness in your family? Or have things outside your control happened that have kept you from being able to keep up with school? Like moving, or having a baby…)
- Are you behind because you have one or more children that aren’t willing or motivated to get their work done?
- Maybe you’re out of balance with the amount of time you’re spending on field trips, sports activities, church activities, or music/art lessons.
- Could the reason you’re behind is that you’re too busy juggling other tasks to focus on keeping school going?
- Or maybe the household or school materials are too unorganized. You know – you’re ready to do math but who knows where that math book is.
Take an honest look at your first semester and write a list of things that are keep you from getting school done as you’d like. Be specific.
The things that are getting in the way
Now take a look at your list of things that have kept you from getting more done this last semester in your homeschool.
If your family had a crisis of illness, extended family issues, or other circumstances outside of your control… I’m so sorry you had a rough semester.
Don’t beat yourself up about it. It was outside your control, so just be as consistent as you can from here on out.
It would still help to do this assessment, just to see exactly how much school you have done/have left to do. And knowing that may help you decide to change your overall plan for the year. (For example – lower your expectations considering the season you’re in…work into the summer…. double up on some lessons…)
Again, don’t beat yourself up about it. That doesn’t make it any easier.
Do you have things on your list that ARE under your control?
Make plans to start working on them, one at a time.
Hear me: One at a time. Work on one thing at least a month before adding anything else. Otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed.
But your’re already overwhelmed, right? Sadly, it doesn’t get any better leaving things the way they are, so please start somewhere.
Mid-year homeschool assessment: Step 4 – Create strategies for improvement
If you have character issues in one or more of your children that keep from getting work done, make a specific plan to deal with the issue. Don’t get so busy that you neglect it. It won’t get better on its own.
And believe me –what is difficult at age nine is going to be a lot worse at age 13!
Look at your time management. How much time are you spending in the car versus home getting school done? If you need to cut down on activities to get your school done, do it!
Do errands on the weekends or group them and listen to audiobooks in the car. If you need to get out of the house, try doing school at a park, the library or even in the backyard.
Do you work at home (or outside the home)? It’s a juggle, isn’t it? Can you manage your time so that you can get both homeschooling and work done?
Perhaps trade childcare with another working mom. That way you can each work for a concentrated amount of time without interruptions. Or get your husband or a friend to help with watching kids and work on the weekends.
Or maybe it would help to go to bed earlier than you’re used to so you can get up and get some work done before your children get up.
Common Household Issues
Not planning meals in advance
Do you stand in front of an open fridge every night about 5:30, wondering what you’re going to be serving for dinner? Take a little time on the weekend to make a meal plan for the following week. It will save you a ton of stress. And time.
And money, if a common solution to this problem is to jump in the car and go out to eat.
This is a tough one. Especially if you weren’t raised in an organized home.
If you aren’t used to this, you can learn to do it. It’s just a skill that you develop, like any other skill.
Start by having a specific place for your school stuff. Then put everything back at the end of every day.
It might sound simple, but this one habit is huge.
First you may have to take a day or two off school and work together to get the house in order and find places for your school stuff.
But you can do that. After all, you are in charge of your schedule! Getting organized is worth your time for things to go more smoothly.
Please understand that I’m not trying to minimize your issues. I’m not saying that there aren’t obstacles that can be really tough, like homeschooling as a single parent, living in a very small space, or with a non-existent budget, teaching kids with learning issues, or dealing with chronic illness.
If you need help with this, could you write and tell me what your issues are that seem insurmountable? I would love to hear them and pray for you.
Just hit reply and pour your heart out. I read and respond to every email. (Although it might take me a few days).
Maybe you’re already back into the swing of things and don’t want to stop and do a homeschooling assessment right now. That’s okay. But please consider doing one sometime this month. You won’t regret it.
It will be worth your time, I promise!
So have you ever done a mid-year assessment before? What’s kept you from doing it in the past?