Help! I'm behind!

Spring is here and summer is rapidly approaching. For many of us, this means we are heading to the end of the school year. That also may mean you are starting to stress about finishing your grade level “on time”.

Here are some key things you can do to make the end of the year go a little smoother.  

First, take a deep breath. Or several. What does it really matter anyway? In the goal of raising awesome adults, finishing “on time,” completing everything in the curriculum books, or even everything you wanted to do, doesn’t really matter. I have several family members who currently teach in schools. And here is the thing: teachers rarely finish everything in their textbook. In fact, I was unable to find a public or private school teacher who ever finished everything in their program or their textbooks.  

As homeschoolers, myself and other moms have on several occasions finished the whole program. This is partly because the curriculum is created with a different philosophy in mind (one to one vs. one to many) making it easier to finish. Part of it, though, is that we as homeschooling moms have this mindset about wanting to do it “right”. It is important to remember that these books and curriculum sets are created to have enough material in them to fill a whole year for those kids who absolutely love the subject and can’t get enough or who have more than the average pre-knowledge.  If that is not your kid, well, I am giving you permission not to finish!

It may very well be that your child isn’t ready to finish everything in a certain subject this year and that is why it is so hard to finish that last portion of work. Reviewing and letting this year’s gained knowledge settle for the summer might be what your child needs instead. Look through what is left and make sure they are ready and open to learning it. Pushing too hard or too soon may do more damage than good.  

Maybe your child is bored. That can create as much stalling as not being ready. If this is the case, or could be, skim through the rest of your curriculum, teach a broad overview to get the concepts out there and then give them the tests (if you do test). You may be surprised at how little of the homework and busy work is actually needed in some cases. It is key to remember that each child could be bored in some areas and not ready in others. Just because this works for one subject with one kid, doesn’t mean it will work for all subjects with all of your kids.  

This concept of teaching the overview and then testing may also be a good solution if you must finish for someone else, for example a curriculum program you send work into. But if you are in a program like that, you likely aren’t too far behind anyway!

One thing that could work really well is to take the subject or subjects your kids are excelling in and loving right now and really focusing on finishing just those. To me, the perfect compromise to getting the most out of the end-of-year learning time is to choose 1-3 subjects to pursue deeply and while doing a light review of the others. Why push what isn’t working right now? There is always next year and if they don’t end up hating it this year, they could easily whip through it then.

One last thing to think about: maybe your real learning happens away from the workbooks and curriculum. Instead of pushing harder to finish those elements, start looking at those things you have been doing instead of that work. Your kids could be learning more through their “distractions.” Log that instead and don’t worry about it.  

Most importantly, stop feeling stressed and being worried. It will work out. They will still get into college or have a great career or life even if you don’t finish those last 50 pages of the huge science program you are trying to complete. Being stressed makes them stressed and it is harder for them to take it in anyway. Enjoy your spring and get ready for summer break!

I have created an End of Year Prep Sheet just for you to help you think it through. Print off one copy per kiddo and fill it out to help you decide what needs to be completed and how to get there.

Here is a run through of how it works:

•    List out each subject and right below that area fill out your desired end date with weeks and/or days left to complete your school year.

•    The second column, Completed so Far, is where you take a tally of how far you actually are.  Fill in  ________ out of ________ .    You can do this as pages or lessons (example:  We have finished 16 lessons out of 22).

•    On a scale of 1 to 4, where 1 means your child is “stuck” and 4 means your child “loves it” and wants to do this first every day, fill out your assessment for each subject.

•    Is there any reason why this subject needs to be completed in full to get full credit from you? Maybe you have a teen taking a CLEP test and they need to finish it. Maybe you need to turn in the work to a 3rd party and they want everything in order to give a grade. Here is where you log that in. You simply thinking they should finish is not enough here.

•    Could it be better to wait until next year to pick up this subject again? In other words, does your child need some time to process before they can absorb more info?

•    Do the math. Here is where you figure out how much needs to be done per day or week in order to finish on time. Take your pages or lessons left to complete and divide by either the days or weeks left before you want to be done. This will give you an idea of what needs to be accomplished to finish everything by the date you have set. This gives you a clear idea of what the rest of the year could look like. Now is a great time to see if you want to adjust anything from your desired finish date to how much they need to finish per subject.

•    Finally, the big question here: Is it worth it? Is it? It is ultimately up to you.

Two last things to finish before you complete this End of Year Prep Sheet:

•    What else have we learned?  Fill out all of the things your child has learned that isn’t involved in the areas above. Examples include extra books read, hobbies, extracurricular activities like soccer or drawing classes, and those things they love to explore that just aren’t included anywhere. Don’t forget the things they have picked up from having the other kids around them learning as well. For example, we listened to Robinson Crusoe on audio book for my middle daughter and it was my youngest who actually really enjoyed it.

•    Finally, go over the progress your child has made this year.  Get into it!  They have learned a ton. Be grateful and enjoy the accomplishment. The rest now is gravy!

Download the End of Year Prep Sheet here!