Sometimes when we are in the middle of something it is hard to get an accurate picture of what is really going on. But seeing the “view from the top” gives us the perspective we need to cultivate the homeschool we want. That’s why a homeschool evaluation is key when it comes to planning your new year.
I took this photo while hanging over the side of a tall building in our city (don’t ask why…I question it myself every time I see this). And as you can imagine, my stomach did a little flip as I looked down from my perch high above the city street. But it did help me see things from a completely different perspective.
When I was editing it later I began to notice things I hadn’t when I was taking it—how the colors all connect with one another, how lines, shapes, and patterns emerged, how incredibly high up I was. I began to see the big picture better by studying the details.
The drivers in those cars had a very different view. And some of the drivers weren’t even in their cars at the time. Each was probably preoccupied with what was going on in their lives at that moment, barely noticing their surroundings or the group of photographers perched above them.
Because they were busy doing, they couldn’t see what I could from my vantage point. And they definitely couldn’t make any of the connections I was able to notice from my bird’s eye view—especially when I had time to study the picture.
When we are homeschooling, we are very much like those drivers. We are in the middle of it, so we are unable to see the whole picture or the little details that make it up. But if we want our families and homeschools to thrive, we need to take a step back and evaluate every once in a while.
So let’s park the car (or minivan since we are homeschoolers), climb up the stairs, and view our homeschools with some perspective. Let’s take a picture from the top as we evaluate our homeschools.
Evaluate Where You Have Been
To make a plan for your new year, think back over this past school year. If possible, discuss these questions with your spouse, too.
- What strengths and weaknesses do each of my children have in the following areas: academic, emotional, spiritual, and physical?
- What do we do well in our homeschool? What needs improvement?
- Do we follow a schedule or routine of some sort? If not, do we need one?
- Are we sticking with a budget for our homeschool needs?
- Is the curriculum we’ve chosen working with my children’s learning styles and how I like to teach? If not, can they be adapted in some way to make them more effective for my kids?
- What obstacles have we encountered this year? How did we deal with them? Could we have done a better job?
- Do we have a good balance of outside activities and time at home?
Schedule a time for your family to sit together and talk. Ask your students how they think homeschooling is going.
- What do you like about our homeschool? What do you dislike?
- Are there some ideas you have that would make it better?
Evaluate Where You Want to Go
After you have spent some time evaluating where you have been, consider where you would like to go. What is your homeschool destination? Think through the following questions:
- How can we encourage each of our children’s strengths in the following areas: academic, emotional, spiritual, and physical?
- What can we do to support their weaknesses in each area? How can they use a strength to address an area of weakness?
- What are some of the possible obstacles we might need to deal with this coming school year?
As a family, talk about why you have chosen to homeschool. Your children will have insight about things you might miss, so ask them:
- Is there an area you personally would like to improve in?
- How can we help you in __________ (an area of weakness)? What can we do to help you succeed in that?
- What do we want the atmosphere of our homeschool to be?
- What would our ideal homeschool day look like?
- If you could study any subject or topic, what would it be? What are you interested in learning about?
Map Out Your Homeschool Plan
Today kids don’t know what it is like to spread out a big paper map in the car during a trip and chart out a course, but you probably remember. When you take a top-down view of your homeschool, it is a lot like looking at that big paper map. There is more than one way to get to your destination. Some roads are more direct, while some meander through a more scenic route. And the best part: you get to choose how you will get there.
But you won’t ever arrive if you don’t know your destination. Sure, your family may take some side roads along the way (and that is part of what makes the journey so fun), but having a plan to get there is important. It is the path you take to reach your goals, and it gets you back on track when you get lost.
As Earl Nightingale once said, “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”
Our FREE Homeschool Evaluation Workbook contains the questions above + ones you can ask as you evaluate curriculum and resource options. It even includes space to record your answers and take notes. Download it today!
What Happens When You Get a Better Perspective of Your Homeschool
When you get some perspective, you see how everything is working together in your homeschool. Like when I looked at the photo—I could see relationships and connections between things. I had time to study the details, but I also was able to see how they worked together in the big picture.
Evaluating your homeschool journey will help you to focus on the destination while mapping out your journey. Start with a view from the top in order to get the big picture so you all can choose your next path.