If I were to say the phrase “daily homeschool observation,” what would be the first thing to come to your mind?
Typically when we refer to homeschool evaluation, we mean academic evaluation. We’re taking a look at how well our students are learning and progressing. We’re also considering how well we’re progressing overall with staying on track with the school year plan.
When issues arise, we then always look back to the academics. Is there something not connecting with the learning style? Is the schedule not working for some reason? Did we choose a curriculum that just doesn’t match with this student’s needs?
Sometimes, though, when we just rely on academic homeschool evaluation, we end up missing the problem. This brings us back to the concept of homeschool observation.
What is Daily Homeschool Observation?
Homeschool observation, quite simply, involves taking just a few moments to see how well prepared both you and your students are to face the day ahead.
This definitely needs to happen first thing in the morning before the day gets started. But, it can also be repeated throughout the day to ensure that everyone stays on top of their game.
To complete regular homeschool observation, be on the lookout for a few simple things:
How well rested is everyone?
Did the kids get to bed at a normal time the night before, or was it a late evening for some reason? Did they sleep well? Did you sleep well?
Is everyone well fed?
Are the kids running on a high carb, high sugar breakfast, or have they — and you — eaten in a way that will provide good brain and body energy? The same question will be relevant at snack and lunch time as well.
How are emotions?
Sometimes even when sleep and nourishment hit the mark, other readiness markers causes struggle. Emotions are the biggest! Are any emotional struggles adding unexpected strain?
When Homeschool Observation Reveals an Issue
It’s one thing to complete daily homeschool observation but another thing entirely to know what to do when you discover that things aren’t quite right!
If the problem is hunger (or a sugar spike and crash from not eating or snacking well), that’s a pretty easy issue to solve. But, what do you do when everyone is tired and you can’t go back and redeem a poor or short night?
Or what do you do when emotions are running high and there just doesn’t seem to be a way to rein them in?
Take an Emotional Health Day
Staying on target is important, and we can’t just ditch school every time we don’t feel like doing it. But, sometimes, it’s necessary to go ahead and put school aside in favor of meeting needs for rest or dealing with emotions.
Don’t be afraid to take a day completely off now and then, remembering that enjoying rest and time off can equip you all to be ready to dive back in again.
Change It Up
Sometimes just changing a couple of things is all that’s needed to provide rest or emotional reset.
Focus on read-alouds. Use a game instead of worksheets to reinforce math or language arts concepts. Pull out the play dough and create models of whatever you are learning about in science. (With enough creativity, this can even work for high school science!)
You can also change locations. Take school to the porch, back yard, park, or even library. If you can’t easily relocate all of your subjects, just take the ones you can relocate and find ways to shift the planning for anything else.
Take a Field Trip
It’s always handy to have a list of field trips you can enjoy at a moment’s notice. This can be something as simple as heading to the park for a nature study, or it can be something a little more involved like a trip to a museum.
As you create your list, think of how to equip multiple ages. The nature study, for instance, might allow your littles to chase bugs or explore flowers while an older student might collect specimens to view under a microscope or vials of soil or water to run chemical tests on.
Ultimately, the goal in homeschool observation is to have a daily understanding of where you and your students are, what your needs for the day might be, and how you can equip your entire crew to be at their best.