Getting Back on Track
You started with great intentions, lessons planned, and supplies on hand. Then someone got sick. There were dentist visits, a friend in need, a few field trips, and so on… The next thing you know you’re three weeks behind in a couple of subjects, days behind in others, and there are still some subjects you’ve not even started yet! And now you need to get back on track after life derailed your homeschool.
It happens to us all. There are very few homeschool moms who stay completely on-track through the entire school year. I’ve never met one! For many of us the flexibility that allows for the ebb and flow of our real life was one of the great draws towards home education. But, for some reason, the fear of falling behind grips many of us at one time or another.
1. Step back and breathe.
First, decide if you are really behind or if the direction of your homeschool needs to change to fit your family’s natural rhythm. What are your state’s requirements? Are you still meeting them? If you’re meeting the requirements and your basic goals, take a look at which subjects you aren’t covering, and determine whether this is the season to cover them or if your children (and you) will more easily cover those things in later years. Maybe this year won’t be the year you make a perfect Book of Centuries or start Latin. And that is okay!
2. Look through your lesson plans. Did you schedule in breaks?
Our school year has been designed to include a week off after six weeks of instruction. If we’ve stayed on track through the session, we all get the week off. When we fall behind, assignments get bumped over to the week off. During our first break, we only had a few odd lessons that needed to be finished, but this session has had a few more interruptions, and we have more than a few lessons that need to be made up to keep our pace for the year. How will I handle that? During our week “off,” we’ll spend each day focusing on a single subject. This will allow us time to explore the science experiments that have been put on hold, delve into the art projects that always seem to end up on the back burner, go back and listen to more of the composers we started covering, and review the sections of our history curriculum that we’ve not finished.
In the past when things got completely derailed, I did a reset. We stepped away from our regularly scheduled routine and the expectations of those curricula, focused on our reading and math, and used some fun unit studies to refresh ourselves and renew our motivation for success.
3. Remember that even traditional school teachers don’t often complete their textbooks from cover to cover.
Give yourself grace. If the thought of getting back on track brings you more grief than hope, you need to reevaluate and get input from your spouse or even a trusted homeschool veteran. It’s okay to change direction midyear if that is what is best for your family. Don’t let falling behind rob the love of learning from your home.
Do you have a plan in place for when life gets in the way of your academics? Please share what has worked for you!
Good tips. Life often causes unexpected bumps and it’s good to have a plan in place for dealing with them.
When we get off-track I like to take a look at the goals I set for the year. Those are the things I know we need to focus on. It’s okay to let the other things go and focus on the essentials for a season.
Those are all great points. I often remind myself of #3. We do many of the same things you do, including a 6 weeks on/1 week off schedule. How I handle getting behind often depends on why we’re behind. For example, I just decided to make some curriculum changes this year because the history we’re using needs some tweaks. That means we’ll be covering some topics again in the new curriculum and probably won’t finish it this school year.
That’s okay. First, I plan on going through the topics we’ve already covered more quickly than I would otherwise and looking at it as review since I’m sure we’ll learn new things and cement things we already knew. Then, whatever we don’t finish, we’ll either pick back up when we resume school after our 6 week summer break or we’ll move on and consider that part of not finishing all of every textbook.
Thank you so much for posting this, it’s probably been the biggest question I’ve had homeschooling so far! I’ve gotten blank looks and replies about just schooling and taking breaks as needed rather than on a schedule. Which doesn’t help when I do have one! This was helpful, thank you!