When setting goals for a new school year, one of the first things to consider is curriculum. But, most homeschoolers, whether new or veteran, can tell you that wading through the curriculum options available to today’s homeschooling family can be downright overwhelming.
The first step to preparing for any new school year is to eliminate options until you get down to selections that truly meet the personality and needs of your student.
One of the best ways to guide your focus as you begin setting goals and choosing curriculum 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.
There are two ways Well Planned Start and other assessments can be used for setting goals for the school year. Let’s take a look at both of them!
Setting Goals by Grade Level
An easy way to use an assessment as a platform for setting goals 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, go through the assessment yourself and use it as a planning and goal-setting tool.
Here’s how that works: as you are planning, look through the test and see what concepts are typical for that grade, then choose curriculum options that reinforce those concepts. At the end of the year, have your child work through the test to see how well they 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.
And that leads us to the second way we can use assessments to help us with setting goals.
Setting Goals by Gaps and Strengths
Sometimes we have to walk away from planning for what is typical and expected at a certain grade level and instead choose to discover and set goals that address any gaps or particular strengths and weaknesses that our child might have.
If you choose to use actual gaps and strengths to guide your school-year goal setting, there are several ways Well Planned Start can help you in the process.
Option #1: 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.
Option #2: Choose the test that matches the grade your child will enter in the coming school year and allow them to answer as many questions as possible.
(Be sure to very clearly explain to your child that they 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 they not know at all? Use the results to shape your direction as you are setting goals for the year.
Option #3: 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 as you are setting goals.
So, what is the best choice for guiding you through the process of setting goals for the new school year? Should you set goals by grade level or by evaluating gaps and strengths?
Fortunately, as long as we are attentive to our children, there is no right or wrong choice! The key is to be intentional about choosing one method or the other.
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 set goals for the coming year.
Whichever way you choose to use it, know that Well Planned Start can help you set goals with confidence, knowing that you have a road map to guide you each step of the way!