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While our school year runs from September to May, I always like to use our Christmas break as a time to reevaluate our curriculum choices and make any changes that might be needed. (I fully respect that you can revaluate and change the curriculum at any point during the year.)
Most years, I find that I need to change several parts of our curriculum, and a few years, we have done a complete overhaul. Typically, there are one or two things that I started the year planning to use but let the ball drop for whatever reason.
What is Working
This year, we are honestly keeping most of our curriculum the same. We have made good progress, the children are doing well with the programs, and it has been a manageable load for me.
As homeschool moms, we sometimes forget that keeping it manageable for us is just as important as having it be a good fit for our children.
I am seeing great improvement with my son’s reading and he is getting ready to move into the next level of All About Reading. He loves his math and science programs and is overall doing great.
My older two children are doing a great job being more independent with their courses and staying on track! It is hard for me to believe that my oldest will be able to start taking college courses next year through dual enrollment.
The one area that I wanted to change was adding more nature study. We have been doing nature study for years, but I had let that ball drop this year. However, my children, particularly my seven-year-old son, missed that part of our studies. I set up his science to be very low maintenance for me, and he loves it, so we left that intact and are just planning to add in the nature study at least twice a week. (He would do it every day if I let him, and I will try to work it in as often as possible, but I want to be realistic in what I can add to my day.) The three-year-old will also join us for nature study because he loves being outside and he loves learning.
My thirteen-year-old daughter is taking a rigorous science course that is beneficial but also challenging. So we decided that we would let my daughter alternate between her regular science curriculum and nature study. This change will allow her to keep learning while taking a bit of a break from her more rigorous curriculum.
Adding Nature Study
When we first started doing nature study, we found many great resources to use. Then as time went on and I became more comfortable with nature study, I began to create my lessons. However, at this stage in our homeschool (1 in high school, 1 in middle school, 1 in elementary, and a three-year-old), I recognize that I need something laid out for me to make it easier for me to get it done.
Thankfully, I found a program that will make it easy for me to implement nature study on our schedule and based on our interests. Years ago, we used the Outdoor Hour Challenges and other resources from the Handbook of Nature Study website to learn about nature study. As of last month, my friend Tricia Hodges is the new owner of that material, and they are revamping the materials and offering some great resources.
We are excited to use the new homeschool nature study site to make nature study easy in our home. There is a daily calendar of ideas and access to materials on a wide variety of topics. We plan to combine the daily calendar and courses that are interesting to my children or fit into our other studies.
For example, my son loves birds, so we will be spending some time using the Birds course. Some of it we will do together, but there are also activities like studying a feather that he can do independently.
As an added bonus this will make it even easier for us to combine our art lessons with our nature study.
Reviews and Questions
Other than going back to our regular scripture and Bible plans after having paused those in favor of Advent studies for December, we are not making any other significant changes in the curriculum this year.
I am sure we will be adding and supplementing as we get back into various reviews beginning in February, but our curriculum is working well. We are enjoying the progress that we are seeing in each child. This year is our tenth year of homeschooling and probably the first year we haven’t needed to make significant changes mid-year. So if you look at your homeschool and need to make substantial changes, please know that you are not alone, and it is perfectly normal to need to make changes and not a sign of failure.
Are you making any changes in your homeschool? What programs are working well for you, and what is not going great?
Other Helpful Resources
If you are needing to make changes, these resources might be helpful.
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