It isn’t even summer yet, and homeschoolers are busy planning next school year. Take these ten steps to have your best year yet.
Go through all of your homeschooling curriculum, books, and supplies before you do anything else. Why? So you don’t buy something you already have and also because you will get a very clear indication of what worked and what didn’t.
As you review each item that you’re not currently using, put it into one of four piles: 1) Using in the fall; 2) Using another year; 3) Sell/Give away; 4) Not sure. I like to store everything I am using in the current year in plain sight and everything else out of sight. This is the time of year to sell your unwanted items at used curriculum sales or online. Put “maybe” items in a separate box and review it when your school year is over.
Make a list of what worked well for you this school year–even if it only worked well for a while. What was it that made it successful? Newness, time of year, your energy? These are things you want to keep, return to, or build upon.
Make a list of anything that did not work for you this school year. What was it that caused the problem? Can it be fixed or does the curriculum or activity have to go?
Discuss your plans with your homeschooling friends. Maybe you can create a co-op, share curriculum, or share driving responsibilities. Perhaps your friends know a curriculum that would work better for you and your children.
Talk about your impressions of the year with your children. They may have a different perspective on why something didn’t work or may be willing to give up other activities in order to keep a favorite. Discuss your thoughts with your spouse, even if your spouse isn’t that involved in these decisions. Often, talking it out will give you a fresh perspective. Budgetary issues should be addressed during this time.
Prayer can and should be a part of the entire process for believers. I sold a curriculum book for a tiny fraction of its retail value at a used sale last year, only to have a woman tell me she had prayed that she would be able to afford that very book. Our Lord wants to be involved in the smallest details of our planning and when we invite Him to be, we are blessed.
One of the most common mistakes new homeschoolers (and even veterans like me) make is assuming they can handle more than they can. You will not have time to teach every subject, or even most of them every day. If you are running several days a week, you will not be able to do justice to the core subjects at home. Creating a detailed schedule will help you determine what you can reasonably accomplish.
Once you know you need a new approach or a new curriculum, start doing your research. Read the reviews and do your price comparisons, looking at used outlets. My favorite sites are Rainbow Resource, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, Homeschool Reviews, Cathy Duffy Reviews, Ebay, and Homeschool Classifieds.
After completing steps 1-9, you’ll be ready to make your purchase, whether you are online, at a bookstore, used sale, or a homeschooling conference. As the wife of a book salesman, please accept my encouragement to buy from someone you have a relationship with or a family business if the price is at all comparable.
One final bonus tip: start enjoying your new materials now! Why slog through the end of the year with the same-old, same-old when you have inspiring new stuff to delve into?
Are you planning next school year right now? Anything you’re struggling with or particularly excited about?