’Tis the season for homeschool planning. Many homeschooling parents, as they work their way toward the finish line of this school year, are also making their plans for next year. It’s a time to review the year that’s wrapping up and anticipate the needs of each child for the coming year.
One invaluable resource that parents may be overlooking is the perspective of their children. If you’re in the thick of your homeschool planning for next year, don’t forget to tap into the experiences, hopes, and wisdom of your children.
Some of the greatest advantages of homeschooling include the ability to cater an individualized education to the needs of each child and creatively dive deep into his or her interests.
Here are some questions to ask each child as you plan your homeschool. A student entering middle school or high school may be very willing to answer all of these questions thoroughly. A younger child may prefer just a few simple questions, and the very young can answer perhaps just one or two. Don’t make this a dreaded chore. It should be a lighthearted and simple exercise. Some children will really appreciate being asked and having their input respected. Some children may love to answer in colorful doodles rather than words. Others would prefer this be a loose conversation over a tray of brownies. The key is for you to create a space for your children to share their thoughts and for you to be able to carefully consider them.
What were your favorite parts of this school year? Start out on a positive note. Encourage your child to pause and think about specific memories from the past year that brought joy or excitement or that were funny or interesting.
What were your least favorite parts of this school year? Here they’ll likely start with a subject they may not be too fond of (“The math problems!”) Dig deeper to discover if any habits or routines stand out as less than supportive to their well-being or if they’re losing interest in something they once loved due to a new approach or circumstance. Listen to what your child shares here and ask follow-up nonjudgmental questions.
What do you hope ‘X’ grade will be like? Younger children may need some help with this question. Add specifics such as, what field trip would you like to go on next year, or what kind of stories would you like to read?
If you were in charge of our homeschool, what would you do? Encourage creativity here and leave no ideas off-limits.
What do you wish you had more time to do? This question may offer some real insights into ideas to bring more joy into your child’s homeschool experience, as well as develop their strengths. Listen carefully.
What do you want to learn more about or get better at doing? This question can give you ideas but also allow your child to think a little bit about the outcome of their own education. You may be surprised at some of the things your child suggests.
What’s your favorite part of each homeschool day? Another important aspect of your homeschool life to review are habits and rhythms—those things you do each day. It can be enlightening to know what your child most looks forward to every day.
What would you eliminate from homeschool if you could? Ask yourself when you get this answer if you could really comply with this request. If it’s a key component of their education (reading or math, for example), how can you change it up or make it much easier or simpler?
What do you hope we continue doing in homeschool? When making new plans, it can be tempting to reinvent the wheel and change everything. This can be a good reminder that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What was the best thing you read this year? Looking back at the books your children read can be enjoyable and point to genres or authors that deserve further exploration. Look into this before you purchase new books for your library.
What was the best thing you created this year? The projects that your child poured time and effort into can point to some skills that need further development or interests that deserve further encouragement.
What are you most proud of? When your children find great meaning in their work, they may be proud of the effort they put in or the obstacles they overcame. Ensure you’re up to speed on their development and what they deem most important.
What’s the best thing about homeschooling? End your questions on a positive note that lends to a sense of gratitude. How fortunate to be able to homeschool. It’s good for everyone to devote some time to this question.