Any homeschooler, whether new or veteran, knows that wading through the curriculum options available to today’s homeschooling family can be downright overwhelming. The first step to planning any new school year is to eliminate options until you get down to selections that truly meet the personality and needs of the student.
One of the ways to help focus your planning is by using an evaluation tool like Well Planned Start. This interactive assessment allows you to sit down with your student and see exactly what he or she has already learned and what needs to be incorporated into the coming school year.
Planning for Grade Level
The easiest way to use the assessment for planning is to choose the test that matches the grade your child will enter in the coming school year. Instead of testing your child at this point, however, use the assessment as a tool. As you are planning, look through the test and see what concepts are typical for that grade, then choose curricula that reinforce those concepts. At the end of the year, have your child work through the test to see how well he or she retained the information throughout the school year.
One thing to remember, though, is that our children’s knowledge can actually take us by surprise! They could know much more about one topic than we ever imagined while being weak in a subject we thought they were strong in. Homeschooling is all about making sure that we educate our children in a way that helps them learn best. Sometimes that means that we have to walk away from planning for what is typical and expected at a certain grade level and instead choose to discover and plan for any gaps or particular strengths and weaknesses that our child might have.
Fortunately, as long as we are attentive to our children, there is no right or wrong choice, as both planning directions are viable and commendable. But knowing in advance whether you want to plan for a typical school year or to fill gaps and strengthen specific areas will help tremendously as you seek to narrow down your options and plan for the coming year.
Planning for Gaps and Strengths
If you choose to base planning on actual gaps and strengths, there are several ways Well Planned Start can help you in the process.
You can choose the test that matches the grade your child just completed, following the directions in the assessment to help evaluate gaps or areas that need to be strengthened in the coming year. Your next step will be to seek curriculum that will help with those areas.
You can choose the test that matches the grade your child will enter in the coming school year and allow him or her to answer as many questions as possible. (Be sure to very clearly explain to your child that he or she will not be able to answer all – and possibly not even very many – of the questions. It is actually a good thing to not be able to answer very many of them!) What answers came easily? What questions could your student answer correctly, but not easily? What did he or she not know at all? Use the results to shape the direction of your planning.
You can utilize both tests. As soon as the school year is over, administer the test for the grade your student has just finished. Allow a week to pass, then administer the next grade’s test. Compare the two and pool the test results and the milestone information in the back of each book to help guide your decisions.
However you choose to use it, Well Planned Start offers a valuable tool for seeing where your child’s strengths and weakness lie and choosing curricula that will help fill specific needs. You can plan with confidence, knowing that you have a road map to guide you each step of the way!