Thursday, March 01, 2012

Homeschool Planning...part 1

It's that time of year again...

The homeschool materials catalogs will come to my mailbox in just a few short weeks, and I find that I am excited about planning for our next year.

But let's face it, those sleek new curriculum packages and words like "guaranteed" and "success" and "less work" sure do sound enticing...

It is tempting at times to scrap everything I've done so far and start over from scratch - relentlessly chasing after the next great curriculum. If I make changes, I want them to make our homeschool better - not just different!

Here are some guiding principles my husband and I use to plan our homeschooling materials purchases.

1. Assess your year.
image courtesy of Surachai
My 2 oldest children are given a "Pro & Con" sheet of paper. Their job is to honestly assess all of the books and materials we used and tell us what they liked about it, and what they didn't. Obviously, there are some cons listed that can be ignored ("I hate spelling") but sometimes the children have insight into what works for them. One time, Precious Girl commented that the pictures in a particular workbook were distracting when she tried to work. That was something I had never thought of. Upon further discussion, we decided a change should be made.

I also do my own Pro & Con list for our school year. I try to honestly assess how each subject worked (or didn't) and then also figure in ease of use, prep time, etc.
After all the votes are in, we can better see what is working well and what may not be. Sometimes the things that aren't working can be tweaked without switching (what if we only did 2 lessons a week instead of 3?). If you can't come up with a practical "fix," it may be time to switch what you are using.

2. Ask questions.
When we were having trouble with our history lessons last year, I asked a few friends who also used the same book how it was working for them. I tried some of their suggestions to make it better, but eventually found that we did need to change. Had I not asked questions, however, I may have hastily switched and wasted money on something I didn't need.
With lots of online forums available, chances are really good someone else is:
1. Using the same materials
2. Experiencing (or even better) has overcome the same problem
See if other homeschooling moms have a creative solution! You can always feel free to post questions here or on Homeschooling and Other Adventures on Facebook.

3. Buy used.
We are blessed to have a large number of homeschoolers in our area so there are several used curriculum sales that can really save a lot of $ $ for our family. Knowing what you need before these sales can save a lot of headaches and unnecessary purchases. I research by looking up the average cost of the materials online. That way I know whether I am getting a good deal at a used book sale or if I need to keep on looking. Knowing what materials you need will save you from impulse buys just because something seems inexpensive.

Join me on Monday as I share a few more Homeschool Planning Tips!

Blessings as you plan,

Linking Up:
Our Simple Country Life
Raising Mighty Arrows
Deep Roots at Home
Women Living Well


Mrs Sarah Coller said...

These are great tips! It's just about the time of year that we really get going on our school...we take a lot of time off during the holidays and make up for it in the summer!

I wanted to stop by and invite you to come participate in my Spring Giveaway Jubilee. There are several giveaways up already and more will be added throughout the month. You can enter them all and even link up one of your own, if you'd like!

Have a great night!


Barb said...

Hi Kristi,
I think Mums who homeschool are v special people. My sister did this with her boys....she loved it.
have a good year.God Bless
Barb from Australia

Proverbial Homemaker said...

This was very interesting, since I am a newbie homeschooler with small children. Found you through the Homemaking Linkup and am looking forward to more of your tips! Thanks!


Stephanie Borgani said...

Hi! I am a 15- year old homeschooler. I have recently changed my style of homeschooling, and have incorporated some elements of unschooling. Your blog is very interesting! I have started one as well, in which I plan to write out my academic adventures, haha :D Nice to meet you!