We’ve been living outside of the United States for quite some time now. So what does it look like for us to wrap up a school year?
1. Review and Update Our Yearly Plans
Where we live, we need to register and submit our plan for homeschooling every year by the end of April. And we need to upload electronic records of what we did according to our previous year’s plan. We follow the regulations to have access to the
local schools and resources. We are blessed because we can join the local school’s soccer team. Daily soccer practice is the main reason we chose this particular school.
We can register and propose either a yearly plan or up to a 3-year plan. We chose to update our plans for the coming year. Homeschooling allows us to move faster with our son and there is no need to wait for any “school year,” so we will also
consider continuing lessons during the summer to finish level 2 and progress to the next level.
2. Yearly Family Interview by School District
The school district conducts a yearly interview to verify what your student studied. This was our first time doing the interview, so we were nervous, even though we heard what to expect from others who have gone through the interview process.
We prepared all the notebooks, workbooks, and a selection of photos and videos. Our son also made chocolate chip cookies for the interviewer. Who could refuse homemade goodies? He also took his soccer ball. When the interviewer asked our son, “What
would you like to share with me about your homeschooling this year?” my son said that he wanted to show us some tricks he learned during the term.
The rest of the interview consisted of the teacher asking what he liked and what he needed, if anything, from the school in support of his studies. Overall the process went smoothly and the teacher felt our son was very happy and well adjusted. Our son said he loved homeschooling!
3. Examinations: Homeschool and Local School
As mentioned, since we are registered in the local school system, we also are blessed to have access to any class we’d like to take. We can also pick and choose which textbooks and exams we’d like. Our son’s homeroom teacher keeps us
in the loop, and we are happy to see what the local school kids are learning and the tests. During the middle and end of the semester, we are asked to provide the teacher with our son’s grades which we assess by ourselves.
It feels awkward at first to assign your child his grades. But we honestly follow the exams we have administered him in combination with the school tests. It’s best to have an accurate reflection of your child’s progress. The local school teacher asked us would we be assigning him all 100%? No, we submit them as the results reflect.
The grades we provide are for first grade math, language arts (English and Mandarin), science, music, PE, and health. We are not included in the ranking of students per grade which is the norm here, but we are fine with that. However, since we are not
in competition, our son doesn’t have any concept of class ranking or grades. In Asian society, it’s fairly common to compare and boast about your children’s grades and ranking. Maybe this happens in some ways everywhere?
But one advantage we have is that we can see what methods and subjects are covered here, and compare them to what we are providing our son. There are clear differences, especially in math. The schools here are teaching more advanced topics earlier! But
that is a whole different topic. We are happy with the level of progress we are making. The most important thing we consider, as the homeschool interviewer highlighted, is that our son seems happy!
4. Planning Summer Vacation and Camps
I think no matter where one lives, you are going to plan a summer vacation, right? As homeschoolers, we can plan a trip almost any time of the year. But if you want to go with other kids that don't homeschool, you have to wait for the summer. We have planned some camping already and that’s one of our favorite tough but fun things we do.
Our family has also joined a co-op recently which meets two times per week. So the plan is to still work through the summer with lessons and do some group field trips together as well. A co-op is a great way to keep busy, share some responsibility, and have some fun with other families during the summer.
Last summer we also went back to Florida for a few months to be with the grandparents, but this year we will stay and experience summer schooling! It’s almost summertime, and we can’t wait to go camping and maybe do a little homeschooling in the woods!
Photo credit: First image, iStock. Second image courtesy of author.