Homeschooling during the second semester is quite different than the first semester. If it is done right, it can be a time of the biggest push forward in your child’s whole school year. The holidays are over and everyone has had a much-needed break from school. This is important for moms as well as for students. What makes the second semester different than the beginning of the year is this: there is less loss of concepts learned. You may have to review a little in January, but not like the beginning of the school year in August or September when you’re dealing with 2-3 months of Summer and possible loss of concepts already taught.
The first semester is fun, but the challenges are many. Children have to get used to a new grade level curriculum, new hybrid classes, and different expectations of the new grade they have just entered. Most everyone is excited and there seem to be more field trips in the Fall than Spring. Moms and homeschool groups are excited for the new year and plan all the things during the end of Summer when everyone is feeling rested. But when you actually start school and go on fieldtrips, try new interesting classes, activities, labs or workshops, something gets left behind. In our case it was the schoolwork. The scattered Fall holidays don’t help either. They break up the weeks even more.
However, during the second semester there are fewer days off, fewer field trips, and more uninterrupted time to focus on the actual school work. Your students already know what is expected of them. Now it’s time to get organized, establish a consistent routine and remember what you were trying to accomplish this school year.
If you have gotten off track during this very weird year, you are not alone. I’m in my 25th year of homeschooling and no year has been harder to homeschool than this year. So give yourself some grace. Give your students some grace too. I think of this Bible verse when I’m feeling discouraged about my schooling efforts this year.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
As I sit down and think about this second semester, I ask God to help me, lead me and guide me as I plan for it.
What skills do I want my student to work on?
I like to go over my original goals for this school year. Think of goals beyond getting through the pages of textbooks. Think of skills. For example, writing. I want my student to write a paragraph with a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a conclusion. The first line of the paragraph needs to be indented, a capital at the beginning of each sentence and proper punctuation at the end. All the words are to be spelled correctly, even if they have to ask Google or look up the word in the dictionary to get the right spelling. I make sure I communicate my expectations clearly and review them often.
What will you add/drop?
By January, you’ve had enough time to assess what curriculum or activities do or don’t work for your student. This is the time to trash what is not working and find something different to replace it. If that science program is not well-written or not written according to your convictions, replace it. It’s okay! This is why we homeschool. We get to reassess what we are doing and try to make it better for them to learn. Then add what you need to add. For example, we are adding a typing skills class this semester. As more and more school work is moving towards being online, this skill is becoming more important. Even more important than handwriting (sorry grandma).
What textbooks will your student be required to finish?
Finishing a textbook is an amazing feeling. It feels good for both the homeschool mom and the student. Finishing is an important skill. How many times do we start something but don’t finish it? Yes, I know. Me too. So let’s require them to finish some things. Caution: be very choosy on what that will be though. Do your homeschool student a favor and don’t require them to finish every book they start. Public/private schools don’t finish every school textbook. It’s unrealistic to have that be your goal. So pick a couple you know they will accomplish. For example: Literature and spelling. The literature books need to be read along with tests completed and the spelling book must be completed by the end of the year. But for math, I’ve decided it needs to be done each day but the book doesn’t need to be completed. My student struggles in math so we need to take a slower approach.
Dear Lord, This school year has been quite life-changing. I feel like everything has been so overwhelming. It has been so hard to focus on my child’s education. I know it’s important. Please help me to plan well for the second semester. Remind me of the skills I wanted my student to learn this year. Show me curriculum I either need to add or drop and then replace. What textbooks should my student really push through and finish this school year? I don’t want to put too much on her, but I do want her to be stretched enough to learn and develop a good work ethic or habit of finishing well. I cannot do this alone. I need Your wisdom to finish this school year. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up.“
Homeschool moms sometimes grow weary in doing good. This semester your students will go much farther than last semester. There are less interruptions to learning. The best learning time is right now. So pray through these points I’ve suggested, then write out a plan for the upcoming second semester.
Hey homeschool moms!
Have a blessed and productive second semester.
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Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Galatians 6:9 ESV