Finish The Year Strong
With warmer weather comes spring blossoms and rushed feelings to hurry with school. As the end of the homeschool year dawns on the horizon, we need to make every effort to finish the year strong—for children who are in typical 9 months/180 days and those who homeschool year-round.
Paul reminded Timothy that, at the apparent close of his ministry, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 ESV). Using this as a model, we too can finish our year strong.
Fight the Good Fight
Every race has a finish line. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to choose an end date for this year’s homeschool. That gives you and your children a goal to keep in mind. To unravel this date, assess where your children are in their curriculum and determine exactly what needs to be finished before this year ends.
It may be that a math curriculum needs to be completed, or you want all the subjects done. Determine what exactly needs to be accomplished and how long that will take and make the end date accordingly. Be mindful, though, that just because you have an “end date” for curriculum doesn’t mean learning has to stop. If your child doesn’t want to stop learning about history or science, by all means, encourage him to learn as much as he wants.
For most states, the end of the year means the required standardized testing. Look over all the testing options now, and choose which one you want to order. Most standardized testing groups ask for a date you want to start testing and will send you hardcopy tests in the mail, or you can choose the online versions. Regardless, choose a testing date, order the tests, and schedule a period of review to go over concepts one more time.
Whatever you do, remember this: homeschoolers are lifelong learners, and we don’t “teach to the test.” Encourage your children that this is just an assessment of where they are and what they need to work on and to give it their best effort. It is not a whole image of your child or his accomplishments. Your child is so much more than a testing rubric.
Finish the Race
When runners race in marathons, often encouraging people will give them pep talks or cups of water to push them forward. With many days of homeschool behind us than there are before us, homeschool fatigue can be a real thing. Recognize the symptoms of homeschool fatigue (irritability, not wanting to do school work, taking a long time to do assignments, daydreaming, etc.) and do something about it.
A change of scenery is often just what is needed to push through. Pack a picnic, a blanket, and school work, and head outside—either to the yard or to a park—for school outside. Instead of testing with paper or worksheets, have your children talk about what they’re learning.
Along those same lines, if you are homeschooling multiple children, have them teach each other. If you’re studying ancient Rome, assign an aspect of that civilization to each child to teach the others, complete with worksheets or papers to write (and have the teacher grade them!). It’s been shown that we learn best when we teach a subject so turn the tables on them and have them be the teacher!
Assigning hands-on projects is a great way to learn about subjects. From history to science, even language arts and math, projects get the creative juices flowing and remind everyone why we choose to homeschool in the first place.
Keep the Faith
Keep the faith about why you’re homeschooling. If you have a bad attitude and just want to “hurry up and finish,” so will your children—and learning will suffer.
Routines are even more important now, especially with Daylight Savings Time and more sunlight to tempt your children. Keep bedtimes sacred, along with necessary household chores and schoolwork. We all have a job to do to keep the homeschool going, and bedtimes, chores, and schoolwork play massive roles in that.
A good many homeschooling families enjoy “Back to Homeschool” beginning-of-the-year traditions, like pictures or decorating notebooks, etc. Delight in end-of-the-year traditions, too, like packing up curriculum to share or sell, cleaning the homeschool space together, creating portfolios, celebrating with a special dinner or time at the park. Be sure to take time off, even if you homeschool year-round, to celebrate endings and beginnings.
Terrie McKee is a follower of Jesus Christ and homeschools her daughter Laura. Terrie blogs at Homeschooling1Child.com, encouraging and inspiring parents homeschooling singletons and children with special needs. Follow her on social media at Homeschooling 1 Child.