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Well Planned Day – Homeschool

May Planning Tip

Foundation for the New Year

We’ve talked a lot about evaluating the current year to stay on top of progress and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks. We’ve also discussed how to approach planning for the new year without getting carried away or distracted from the current year. 

But, there’s one more evaluation and preparation detail we need to cover to help you wrap up the current year and prepare for the new one. We need to talk about how to determine what you and your student need in the coming year. 

Assessment: Your Student

We’ve already talked a bit about academic assessment and what that looks like (see the March article). Let’s dive into that concept a little more deeply.

First, we need to clarify the difference between standardized tests and assessment. If your state requires standardized testing, that’s typically going to have happened sometime in March or April. A standardized test will help you know how your student ranks against other students of the same age and grade who have taken the same test. 

An assessment, on the other hand, evaluates how well your student processed the information that they learned this year. Essentially, an assessment lets you know if your student is ready to progress forward or if they need a little more time reviewing certain concepts first. 

In the March article, I mentioned Well Planned Start as a good grade level assessment option. Now is a good time to order your copy and walk your student through it! 

Assessment: Your Curriculum

After you’ve completed your student assessment, use the results to help you take a guided walk through your curriculum and compare what was covered in the curriculum with what your student should have learned by this age and grade. Was your curriculum well-rounded? Did it cover what needed to be covered for this particular grade or were there gaps? 

Keep in mind that different curricula will teach concepts in different orders. So, it might just be that you’re processing through concepts in a different order than is expected by the assessment. If so, no problem! The key is to see what’s there, what’s not there, and what might be causing gaps in your student’s education.

Assessment: Yourself

In addition to assessing your student and your curriculum, you’ll also want to assess yourself. As you assess yourself, contemplate what worked best for you and what just did not fit your personality. If something was a great fit for your student but you struggled with it, consider what adjustments could be made to continue helping your student thrive while also allowing you to thrive. The opposite scenario — good fit for you but not for your student — needs to also be considered. 

As you pull all of this information together, you’ll begin to see where gaps may have existed or certain aspects of learning just didn’t have a good fit. Take a few minutes to consider whether this means you need to simply make adjustments in your established curriculum or if you need to consider a different curriculum for the new year.

From Assessment to Action

Assessment is meaningless if it doesn’t result in solid decision making. So, the next step is to use what you’ve learned to help take action for the new year. Here are a few concepts to process through to help you out.

  • Gap Filling: Take a look at any gaps that remain from the previous year and set benchmarks for the coming year that will allow you to fill those gaps. If the gaps are very numerous, consider repeating those subjects. 
  • Grade-Appropriate Growth: What milestones are applicable for this new year? This would include not only academic but also mental, emotional, and physical milestones. Be prepared to work through the A.S.P.I.R.E. method and set benchmarks that will help you implement and evaluate these milestones throughout the new year. 
  • New Concepts: Remember those gaps from last year? What can you do to avoid new gaps in the coming year? You might consider purchasing an assessment for the grade your student is going into. Then, use the concepts in the assessment to evaluate curriculum purchases or to assess the curriculum you’ve already purchased for the upcoming school year. Is everything covered? Is there anything you need to add? Set these concepts as goals for the coming year so you can be sure to work it all in. 

By processing through these assessments and questions, you are laying a foundation that will help you tremendously as you work through the A.C.H.I.E.V.E. method for the new year! 


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