How do you evaluate a year? How do you look back on 180+ days, 36 weeks, and determine if it’s worth repeating?
I’ve been asking myself those same questions as I reflect back on our year. I know almost intuitively what went well and what didn’t. But my struggle has been how to articulate what is almost a gut-feeling. What do you ask to know if a subject or curriculum got a passing grade?
Is failure the only indicator?
Boy, that’s tough. Sometimes things are a clear FAIL. Your child isn’t learning; you hate teaching it; the lessons are a nightmarish struggle.
But sometimes, the answer isn’t as obvious. Sometimes FAIL isn’t stamped at the top in big red letters. Maybe all seemed to go well on the surface, but perhaps your kids didn’t learn as well as you had hoped. No terrible struggles, no tears, no apparent problems, but it just didn’t match your vision. Maybe there was some struggle, but nothing that would appear terribly abnormal. After all, we all have areas where we struggle. Do you switch curriculum or give it another go?
The answer can only come if you have a clear vision. What are your goals for your homeschool, for your year, for your child, for each subject? You’ll have no idea if you missed the mark without a mark to aim for.
From experience, the answer could go either way. We struggled terribly with Kindergarten math. My son fought and struggled to understand every new concept. Mid-year, he confessed as a kindergartener that he hated math. I made some mid-year changes to how I taught our existing curriculum, and we survived. He even managed to like math again, but I was burned out and ready to try a new program. My husband encouraged me to give it one more year, and he was right. This year was totally different. The program was much more organized and consistent, the changes we had made the year before were already in place at the start of first grade, and the year went very smoothly. It was the right decision to stick it out.
On the other hand, I’ve had an unsettled feeling about our kids’ current language program all year. No obvious problems or huge struggles. My son didn’t learn some things as well as I would have liked; my daughter had some melt-downs, but nothing extremely alarming. Then, the Lord brought along an answer I really didn’t even know I was looking for. We are switching programs, even without a clear FAIL. And I’m confident that the new program for next year will be an absolute success.
Bottom line, know what “FAIL” really means for you.
Is success the greatest aim?
Great question. And it all comes down to how you define success. Is it acing the standardized test? Is it a thrill for learning and discovery? Is it character-lessons and godly living? What is success?
I can’t know that we have had a successful year until I know the answer to these questions. For us, I had a vision of teaching the Bible within the context of history, of teaching geography that brought a greater understanding of the Old and New Testament, of tying in all of our learning within this framework.
So was this year a success? In some ways, absolutely! In a few places, not quite. But because I know what my vision is and what success would be, I’m prepared to make the adjustments for next year.
Need a little more direction? Download this FREE evaluating sheet to take a more in-depth look at your curriculum choices.