We’ve all had those awful homeschooling moments. The ones where you look around at your kids and realize that everyone is going through the motions, but their education isn’t where you want it to be. Tears are flowing, projects are left unfinished, grades drop, and your visions of the perfect homeschool vanish.
When my crew is in the thick of homeschooling, it is easy to just put our “noses to the grindstone” and do the next thing. I focus on getting work done but rarely question the work itself. This has come to some disastrous results. At one point, I suddenly realized that I had been reteaching my daughter how to count to 10 for years. Something was wrong. I had to put everything on hold while I spent time in agonizing self-reflection to pinpoint how to proceed with getting her learning disability diagnosed and altering all of our lessons to reflect reality. It was a harsh change from my dream of what school would look like, and it was apparent that something needed to change. But what?
Self-examination is required if we are to look critically and find the source of the problem, but true self-examination is difficult. It requires us to analyze every aspect of our approach, including our methods, assumptions, and biases. It requires deep honesty and a courageous willingness to challenge our own beliefs.
Nobody likes to have their assumptions challenged, and we certainly don’t want to have our self-assessment reveal that we are contributing in any way to our children’s struggles. It is easy to avoid doing this work, but challenging our assumptions, objectives, and yes, even homeschooling itself, will push us to become better.
Get a pen and notepad or download our assessment form. We are going to mercilessly examine your school. For each question below, you will look at the following areas.
You will need five columns.
1. The original question
2. What are your assumptions?
3. In what do you base that belief?
4. Should you challenge this belief? If so, how?
5. To do.
The basics: Academic Reassessment
- Are you on track to complete the school year?
- Look at each subject independently. Are your kids struggling or mastering material?
- What methods are working best?
- What causes the most tears?
- What creates the most joy?
- How do the kids feel about school in general? Are they excited, content, anxious?
- What one subject do you most feel that you need to tweak to fit your homeschool?
- What is holding you back?
- What do you really not want to change?
- What materials did you pay too much for?
- Look at each outside activity independently. Is it a good fit for your child?
- Are there any signs of learning disabilities? What are they?
- What subject are you not spending enough time on?
- What subject are you spending too much time on?
- What should you drop entirely?
- Do you know your children’s learning styles? Do your lessons reflect this?
- Is your record keeping system working well for you?
- Are you pushing or challenging your students?
- Are your children exploring on their own?
Leave room for imperfection. Not all students are capable of straight As, and purchased materials don’t come with charts that factor in exactly how to handle that month of drastic illness you suffered. It is okay to not be perfectly in sync with where you want to be, but strive to find a balance point.
- In general, how is your home running?
- How many days are you out of the house? Do you feel okay with that number?
- What one area are you struggling most in? (cooking, cleaning, laundry, time management, outside activities)
- Are you delegating well?
- Are your school supplies well organized and easy to reach?
- Is there clutter that is distracting you or the kids from schoolwork?
- How well is your routine working for you?
- What time of day is best for your students? Worst?
- What doesn’t work well for you as the teacher? As Mom?
- Do you find yourself scrambling right before lessons to find the supplies you need?
If your time management is out of order, take a moment to do a bit of backwards planning and see where your time hogs are. This will help you to determine exactly what to keep, what to drop, and where to buckle down and simply work faster.
- Is there a specific subject, topic, or time of day that seems to create the worst attitudes?
- Are you feeling distant from any of your children?
- How well do your children interact with one another?
- Is your child’s relationship with your spouse positive?
- Are there discipline issues that you need to focus on?
- Are the kids healthy?
- Would you describe your children as happy?
- Are there any physical or emotional impairments that should be considered?
- What is the role of religion in your home? Is this helping your relationships?
- Are you demonstrating good manners and consideration?
- Do your children have friends who are a good influence?
- What are you doing to help your children to build strong friendships with others?
- Are special projects and field trips helping or hurting your relationships?
How is your own attitude? Our kids feed off of our energy, and our attitude can set the mood for the entire family’s day, week or even year. Remember, be completely honest with yourself while doing this assessment. Our kids learn more from what they see us do than what they hear us say.
- Are you healthy?
- Would you describe yourself as happy? Would others?
- Are your daily actions demonstrating what you believe to be true?
- Are you available to help with lessons when needed?
- Does being needed frustrate you?
- Are there changes that should be made in your diet or exercise routine?
- What are you most afraid of? Is that fear impacting your life right now?
- What methods or materials are you using simply because they are easy?
- What are you neglecting?
- What one thing should you stop doing?
- Is there one subject that you can delegate?
- What distracts you?
- Are you hovering or empowering?
- How comfortable are you with the amount of preparation you need to do?
- What are you doing really well?
The hard part: Goal Reassessment
These may seem like fluff questions, but they are really at the heart of the matter.
- Why are you homeschooling?
- What is it that you want to achieve at the end of your child’s school career?
- Is your child on track for college entry?
- What should your child know by the end of this year? Be realistic and specific.
- What teaching philosophy do you believe in most? Do your lessons reflect this?
- If you could pick only one priority, what would you teach your kids?
- Are you accountable to anyone?
- What is the most important change you need to make?
- Is homeschooling right for your children?
Just do it
This is where the rubber meets the road. You now have a list of things that you would like to improve. Things that can help revitalize yourself, your home, your school, and your kids. It’s a long list. It is challenging, and it may involve some pretty major changes.
At this point you must remember that the purpose of re-assessment isn’t to point out all your failures or inadequacies; it is to find the areas where you can make positive changes. None of us feel like we are “doing it right.” We are all concerned that our child isn’t progressing perfectly in one subject or another, and we all have areas in which we need to improve. No one is capable of making giant changes all at once. Choose just a few areas that you feel will be the most beneficial to your kids’ school experience and focus on only that.
Reassessment is just the first step in the process. Are you ready to find out what changes you need to make? Download the assessment form and get started.
Sheryl–Sheryl is living her dream in the house on Liberty Hill where she is a full time wife, mother, and teacher. She is passionate about turning children’s natural curiosity into activities that will inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Learn more about her adventures at libertyhillhouse.com