Thursday, January 14, 2010

January To Do List...

It does not seem possible that it is already the middle of January 2010! I personally am having a hard time with this! It sure doesn't help that as I get older time seems to go by faster and faster. Oh, for those days as children when time seemed to stand still.
Today I was reviewing my "Homeschool January To Do" list, and I thought I'd share it - just in case a "newer" homeschooling mom might like a few ideas. Though, I must admit that even after homeschooling for over 5 years I still feel like I'm in "Homeschooling Mom Kindergarten." There is always so much to learn!
In January, I usually set aside some time to review where we are at in our own homeschool. I start by looking at our state requirements for homeschooling just to make sure they haven't changed on us! I use several websites to help me with state homeschool resources. If I need to make any changes for the year to adapt to their guidelines - I do them in January.
I also like to determine what I will do regarding standardized testing for the year. Our state requires standardized testing at least every 3 years, however, they "like" to see it more frequently. Up to this point, I have had the children tested every year. I know many homeschooling families are against standardized testing, and if their states allow them to avoid testing then that is their choice. However, I use the test as a tool to help me homeschool.
There are three ways that I use the standardized tests to help me. The test often gives me the "Big Picture" of my child's academic progress. I know it is often true for me that I "can't see the forest for the trees." The daily little probelms often cloud my ability to see where my children are "across the board."
Standardized tests also let me see areas that the children have weakness in. I might think they are doing pretty well overall in math, but the test may pick up a particular weakness with fractions or decimals that I hadn't noticed. Sometimes, I will purchase an inexpensive small workbook highlighting the weak area and let them do it casually during the summer. This keeps them on target and thinking until school picks up again in the fall. That simple review often makes the difference and helps them out of the rough patch.
Finally, I use standardized test scores to help me make decisions about the curriculum that we use. I don't base any decision solely on standardized test scores, but simply use them as part of a many faceted view of assessment for my children.
January is also the month I like to get some idea of where I will be going with next year's curriculum. Often the final decision will have to wait a while, but I just start thinking about it in January. This really stems from the practical bargain hunter side of my brain. If I can get an idea of what I might use - I can watch out for deals on these items. I can also purchase them a few at a time - helping to keep intact an already stressed budget. That is good for everyone these days!
On a more personal note January is also the month I like to clean closets, unload uneccessary junk, and just generally declutter my home and my life. I love the "new beginning" feeling it gives me and my home. In recent years with the economic pinch we've all been feeling, I take the victims from the decluttering and sell them on ebay or Craigslist. It is a bit of work , but hey it's money to buy next year's curriculum. Woohoo! Also - lest anyone think I have it all together- I still haven't gotten to most of these items on my January To Do list - but January's not over yet!

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