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How to Know if the Homeschool Year is Done

By the time the spring flowers bloom and the grass needs mowing, we start looking for a way out. Outside, out of the house, out of homework. Let us out of homeschooling, lest we die!

Surely we are close to the end. All those months of papers and books and tests and projects exhausts us as much as they grow us. Make no mistake, we are very happy to be homeschooling. But we are definitely happier to be homeschooling in September than we are in May. That’s just the way it is.

And we are responsible homeschoolers, after all. We want to be thorough, to finish the year right, to end strong. We know it’s important to teach our children to finish the job, to do their best, and to work hard. We don’t want to cut corners in their education or to be lackadaisical (yes, I had to look up how to spell that one).

BUT WE WANT TO BE DONE ALREADY! Are we done already? Can we put away the books and the pencils and drag out the lawn chairs and the sunscreen? Is it too soon to brew the ice tea and the cold coffee and make popsicles and jello salad?

Here’s your rescue plan. Check this list to see if maybe, just maybe, summer vacation starts now.

Homeschool Summer Vacation Checklist

Have you met your state requirements?

Check to see if your state has minimum number of days or minimum number of hours requirements. If so, you’ve been tracking your progress, right? If not, it’s time to drag out your calendars and your time machine to recreate your past. If you have, you know what’s left.

Have you finished over 80% of the textbook or course?

This is completely arbitrary, and I can’t find proof this is really a “thing.” But they say (whoever they are) that if you’ve finished 75% of a textbook, you’ve finished more than most institutional schools. Whatever that means.

I think it should be even more than 75%, myself. Hense my new number, 80%.  But keep this facts in mind when determining textbook completion:

  • Homeschool textbooks, unlike those produced for institutional schools, are intended to be completed in entirety or near-entirety to master the material.
  • Completing a textbook or workbook does not mean completing every exercise on every page. Most publishers provide extra exercises and explanation to accommodate a wide variety of needs and learning styles.
  • The textbook or course may be stretched to allow for a full 36 weeks or 180 days of material. You may sense a few lessons that are lighter on content, and those can easily be skipped or combined.

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Have you covered all the main concepts of the course?

howtoknowifyoiurhomeschoolyearisdonepinLook through the scope-and-sequence or table of contents — did you cover all those topics? Has your child received instruction in the breadth of knowledge expected from that class? Whether or not you’ve discussed every single page with the student, have you discussed all the content necessary to grasp it?

This is where each curriculum differs. For some, that means completing every chapter to a certain extent. For others, it means finishing the primary modules and any necessary (but not all) review assignments. Make sure you got all the meat out of it.

Does your student clearly understand and apply the concepts?

This is the most important qualification. The student should not pass a class he has not mastered. Mastery means the ability to communicate (orally or written) the facts and principles taught and apply them to his life or learning.

Some students achieve mastery early in the course. I have a son who never had to be taught elementary math. He figured out multiplication and division and measuring and graphs just on his own. He had mastery well before “the book said he should.” I don’t know why. It makes no sense.

But other students do not have mastery even after completing a book. I had another son who finished his Algebra 1 book but had not mastered the algebraic principles. He had to practice additional problems for a summer to build those skills.

So how do you know if your student has mastered a course? If you are testing, the grades will tell you. You should see depth of understanding, too, in writing, projects, and discussions on the topic. Look for spontaneous connections, creative applications, and general comfort around the material.

Has your high school student completed all the tests and projects?

For high school, the stakes are a little higher. You will want to ensure not only the student’s learning but also proof of completion for transcripts or graduation requirements. Gather the tests and quizzes and papers and projects (or photos of projects) together to file away until after graduation.

Has your high school student completed his course objectives and fulfilled his goals?

If your high school student is taking responsibility for his learning, go back to his goals and objectives. Has he completed the benchmarks he set out to accomplish this year? Does he have any unfinished milestones? Holding him accountable to complete these commitments is an integral part of his education.

If you have answered “yes” to all of those questions, CONGRATULATIONS! Here’s a glass of tea and a magazine. Go catch some rays and enjoy your summer!

How close are you to the end?

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