Whether or not you’re one to make new year’s resolutions, the beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on goals and refocus priorities to finish the school year strong.
At this point, you can usually gauge if it is possible to finish the school year “on time” or whether you need to assess how far into the summer you’ll need to work to complete your goals. Setting a pace for the end of the year with those completion goals in mind will help you feel productive and accomplished as you breeze into the spring.
From the time I was a homeschool student–and into my few years as a homeschool mother–I have enjoyed looking at the total number of pages in the curriculum, subtracting the pages I’ve already done, and dividing what’s left by the number of calendar days left in the school year.
It is important to be honest with the number of school days left–don’t count major holidays or birthdays and leave yourself a few wiggle room days (usually at least one a week), so you don’t hem yourself in too closely.
Even if you decide to double the pace you prefer, it can be encouraging to know exactly where you stand and that your hard work will pay off with completed goals at the end of the year.
Our mid-year assessment also affects our extracurricular activities. Is the co-op class we’re attending adding enough substance for the time and energy it takes? Do we have time to devote a few evenings a week to YMCA Sports? An honest assessment of the cost of participating (or sitting out) can save you from burnout as you sprint toward the end of the school year.
Now is also a good time to plan how to motivate yourself and your students to you reach milestones as you push toward the end.
While our family really enjoys tangible motivations–tasty treats and gift-wrapped surprises, I also enjoy practical motivations such as an occasional bonus day off or a field trip outing.
For families like ours that do some form of school all year round, it can also be encouraging to think of the “fun school” you’ll be able to do when the formal school year winds down: more science projects, arts and crafts, and field trip outings.
Another motivational tactic I employ over winter break is to clean out and reorganize our school space. Is it hard to access the pencils? Is the paper drawer always a mess? Is it difficult to pull out (or put away) learning aids? Is the bookshelf too cluttered? At this point, our family usually needs to restock dry erase markers, colored pencils, and printer supplies. This year, we’re also researching the best printer we can purchase for bulk copies as well as printing.
Mid-year planning can also reveal things that you want to do differently in the coming year. Does your schedule need to be revamped? Are you actually studying each of the subjects you started with? Because our family purchases curriculum for the following school year in February, I like to assess how we feel about the curriculum we’ve been using so far before purchasing another round for subsequent school years. Taking good notes on the current year will help you set better expectations for next year.
Just as the beginning of the school year holds the most promise for successful studies, an honest mid-year assessment after the winter holidays can energize you and your students toward a fruitful year.
Photo credit: iStock.