Reflecting and Evaluating Last Year

It is that wonderful time of the year! Surrounded by a mountain of home-education books and homeschool curriculum, I get to plan next year’s homeschool… and I love it! 
I think all homeschool mums out there can understand the excitement of new curriculum and new plans with “This year is going to be different,” ringing in our ears. 
Homeschool planning

However before I jump in and get too excited, I realised it was important to really reflect on last year before I make the same mistakes again. 
To reflect on what went well….and what did not! 
I would advise every homeschool mum to do this. 
Don’t get carried away and start planning next year, no matter how tempting, until you have evaluated last year. 
I would recommend you get the kids involved too. Ask them what did they enjoyed learning about, and what did they dislike. 
I have learnt so much from this little exercise; not just about my homeschool, but also about the way my children learn and about the way I function too. What is important to me and my happiness?
Here is my reflection and evaluation of last year:

Evaluation of our Homeschool 2015/2016

In 2015/2016 I was homeschooling two boys: a 5-6year old (K5 in U.S. or Year 1 in the U.K.) and a 3-4years-old (Preschool). This blog-post will focus on my elder son, as the youngest did very little structured schooling this year.

Child’s Learning Style

Self-Directed Learner


I realised that my eldest son is highly self-motivated and my interference in his learning can actually hinder his progress! He only needs to be given the resources and gentle prompts , and he will learn on his own. He learns and retains the most from his own reading.The best thing about this self-directed approach is that it encourages his love of learning and allows him to take control of his own education. 

However…he is only 6! So I have to find a balance next year, allowing him more time and control in his education, whilst at the same time making sure he has a firm foundation in the basics. 
Facts, facts, facts

He LOVES facts and figures, and has recently developed an interest in science. So this coming year I need to encourage this interest and develop a really engaging sciecne curriculum for him, that will cover things he is interested in, as well as introduce him to new concepts. 
As we are starting history this year, I need to find a way to utilise his love of facts, in our history lessons. 

Need for structure


Although he enjoys learning independantly, he also benefits from having routine and structure in the day. It is important to him to know what to expect that day, and what is coming the next. This coming year, I have bought him his own academic diary, in which I will write out the lesson plans briefly, so he knows what is coming. 
I struggled this year in establishing consistent routines. This is something that I NEED to address this year for his sake. insha’Allah.
Needs fun and silly too!

Because of his personality, it is easy for me to forget that he is only 6 years-old and enjoys doing silly things too! This coming year, I want to incorporate more fun activities and experiments into his curriculum.  

Homeschool planning

It is also important for him to blow off steam! He needs to run, jump, do ‘kung-fu’ moves, just like any little boy! So this year, I have to schedule in outdoor/free time every day….without fail!

Short Lessons


My recent discovery of the Charlotte-Mason approach to homeschooling had me trying shorter lessons with my son. 

These worked very effectively as he knew that he had only a short amount of time to learn/do the material and he really focused during this time. In my head, because of my experience at mainstream schools, I thought that a lesson ‘needed’ to be around 40 minutes long….but why should it be! Who says it has to be! 

When you are working one-on-one, shorter lessons are actually very effective. This coming year, I will be shortening lesson times in all areas. 

My Needs

This last year has been massive for me, in terms of self-knowledge and feelings of self-worth! One of the things that I realised about myself, is the need to be creative!
Homeschool planning

This coming year, I hope to utilise my creativity to create an awesome science curriculum for my son, and well as doing some great crafts to go along with out history and Islamic studies. 
I’ve also realised that I am a control-freak! I need to relinquish this control over my son’s learning, and allow him to dictate the pace and content of at least some areas of study. It’s going to be hard!

Stop Worrying

He’s doing ok! Alhumdulillah! Socially, academically, emotionally…he’s fine! mashAllah.
Part of being a homeschool mum…nay….part of being a mother period, is that we worry and we fill our thoughts with guilt. “What if I hadn’t done that…” or “Maybe I should have done it like so-and-so”. I realised that I shouldn’t compare my child, my home or my homeschooling to anyone else. It does nothing but fill you with guilt or helplessness. 

Allah does not judge you by other people’s standards. He only asks you to do your best with the tools he has given you. 

Alhumdulillah we are doing well, and I pray it continues.

External Teachers

There is often a feeling amongst some home-educators that if you are using a tutor or sending your child to classes, your not really homeschooling “properly”! Of course, this is nonsense. There is no “proper” way to homeschool. 

Homeschooling planning

My son seems to really enjoy the variety that external teachers brings to his education. He attends a number of co-op classes, which he seems to be doing very well in. I have also found private tutors to help with languages (not my strength), and he loves those classes. So my feelings are that perhaps I should continue with these classes, and perhaps even find classes outside the home. 

So you see, this short exercise in reflection, that took only 10 minutes to think through, has brought me so much clarity for next year’s plan, and stopping me from repeating the same mistakes. If you are homeschooling your children, I would highly recommend that you do this too!

Are you starting to plan your next year of home-education? 
How do you start the planning process? 
What worked well for you last year, and what changes will you be making this coming year? 


Id love to hear from you! 
Please share with me in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

In Part 2 (COMING SOON), I will go into details about how I plan out our school year, and the books and resources I use, as well as my planner and all that ‘good stuff’!!!

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In need of your duaas.

Peace and Love

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6 Comments on Homeschool Planning: Part 1

  1. Mariam Arafat
    09/07/2016 at 6:31 pm (4 years ago)

    jazakAllah khair,this was a very beneficial article, as this was my first year of homeschooling and a bit of a struggle Alhamdulilah….I have learnt a lot….waiting for the next article…

    Reply
    • Gemma
      09/07/2016 at 7:20 pm (4 years ago)

      Wa iyaki sister Mariam ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm so happy you found it helpful. Thank you for your support!

      Reply
  2. Hanaan Msallam
    09/07/2016 at 9:58 pm (4 years ago)

    Thanks for a great post, I'm new to homeschooling and I am learning a lot from your blog Ma sha ุงู„ู„ู‡.
    Keep up the good work. My daughter is going to yr 2 so can't wait to see your part two article.
    ุฌุงุฒุงูƒุงู„ู„ู‡ ุฎูŠุฑุงู‹

    Reply
    • Gemma
      11/07/2016 at 2:32 pm (4 years ago)

      Wa iyaki ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your kind words sister Hanaan

      Reply
  3. Khadijah Iqbal
    12/07/2016 at 8:02 am (4 years ago)

    Assalamulaikum sister very interesting and beneficial post. I would like some advice on my 5yr old reading please. I am currently using ordinary parents guide to teach reading which he likes and I also use Oxford reading tree books for him to but he really does not like reading these when we sit down to read he doesn't show interest and just wants to go off. He likes being read to and enjoys activites to do with reading but does not like to read the actual book himself any advice would be much appreciated jazakAllah

    Reply
    • Gemma
      12/07/2016 at 3:33 pm (4 years ago)

      Walaykum assalaam Sister Khadijah ๐Ÿ™‚
      Subhanullah! I use exactly those books with my son. Perhaps you could try easy readers that are about his interests. My son was very into Dinosaurs, so I went onto Amazon and bought loads of second hand easy readers about dinosaurs! He enjoyed them much more than Biff and Chip! I've also written a blog post about how I taught my son to read. You might find it helpful insha'Allah: https://ourmuslimhomeschool.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/teach-your-four-year-old-to-read.html
      Thank you for reading my blog and your support sister. Jazakillahu khayrun

      Reply

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