10 Reminders for the End of the Homeschool Year

Photo Credit: Kara Maynard (Oak Meadow)

  1. Take it slow. Resist the urge to speed things up, even if others around you seem to be doubletiming things trying get to summer faster. Even homeschoolers can get a little end-of-the-school-year-itis. Build in some cool, fun activities to balance things out and allow the summer season to unfold when it is ready.
  2. Photo Credit: Ledahl Family
    (Oak Meadow)

    Be flexible. If your homeschooling workload is holding up the start of summer fun for your family, maybe it’s time to revisit your plan and adjust things a bit so that summer doesn’t have to wait until everything is done. You might stretch lessons out over more days to make more time for play, or see if any nonessentials can be cut. The flexibility of home learning can’t be beat!

  3. Reflect on what went well this past year and what you’d like to do differently going forward. How did each person in your family grow this year? What sorts of things were accomplished? What is each person most proud of? What felt like it could have gone better? Take notes so you can remember and incorporate that feedback when planning for next year.
  4. Tidy up your homeschool supplies. Leave them neat and organized so you won’t have to go looking for them in the fall. Retire any supplies that have reached the end of their useful life, and make a list of what needs to be replenished. But don’t pack everything away completely — you never know when your child might suddenly have a creative need for something in that stash!

    Photo Credit: Bessent Family
    (Oak Meadow)
  5. Stay on top of requirements. If your state or district requires an end-of-year assessment, test, or portfolio, plan ahead so you will meet the deadline. Don’t leave it to the last minute. If things are jumbled and hard to sort through, now is a great time to make a plan for staying organized next year.
  6. Consider making a portfolio with a few representative pieces and/or photos of each student’s work even if your state or district doesn’t require it. Store portfolios together in a waterproof container so you can enjoy looking back on them in future years.
  7. Dream big! What would you and your family most like to explore together in the coming years? Brainstorm all of the things that come to mind. You may not be able to do all of them, but it’s fun to think about possibilities.
  8. Do you still need to submit next year’s enrollment forms to your state, district, charter, or distance learning school? Do you know the deadlines and requirements? Do it now, or at least get forms and information in order so you won’t have to hunt for it when the time comes.

    Photo Credit: Kara Maynard
    (Oak Meadow)
  9. Write your future self a letter. When autumn comes, you might find that your school-year memories have been overwritten with thoughts of summer fun. Have everyone person in the family write or dictate a friendly letter to themselves to open at the start of the next school year. Say something in your letter about what you want most to remember about the past year, along with your dreams for the coming year. You might forget the details over the summer, but those letters will remind you!
  10. Celebrate! A year of homeschooling is a milestone worth celebrating. Here are 10 Ideas for Making the End of the Year Special and some more ideas from Oak Meadow teachers about Celebrating the School Year.

 

10 Ideas for Making the End of the Year Special

Is yours one of the many families whose “school year” has a beginning, an end, and then a break before the next year begins? Schooling at home is something to celebrate, and when the end of the year arrives, it presents an opportunity for joyful recognition and reflection. Here are some ideas for ways to make it memorable and special for your family.

Photo credit: Ledahl Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: Ledahl Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

1. Celebrate growth! Have everyone in the family make a list of some of the things they are glad they learned or ways they have grown over the past year. This exercise is especially helpful for parents, who may have overcome many challenges without realizing it. Compliment each other on your efforts and accomplishments.

2. Reflect as a family. The school year may be over, but learning never stops. Together as a family, discuss the things you are most interested in learning over the summer and perhaps during the next year. How can you support each other’s goals and wishes? Show your child by example that adults are perpetual learners, too, and talk with them about what you’re most interested in exploring and learning.

3. Make testing fun. If your distance learning program, homeschooling curriculum, or state requirements involve end-of-year testing, make it an extra special event! Decorate the room where the test will be taken, plan some healthy treats to enjoy during snack breaks, throw a five-minute dance party to get the wiggles out and energy up between tests, and celebrate in style when the testing is done.

Photo credit: Sarah Justice (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: Sarah Justice
(Oak Meadow Archives)

4. Revisit Main Lesson Books. Are Main Lesson Books (MLBs) a part of your Oak Meadow experience? Spend some time together with your child looking back over their MLBs or notebooks for the past year. (For extra fun, pull out MLBs from years past and marvel together at how far they’ve come!) If you or your child have a favorite MLB page, take a photo and send it to us. We love seeing the beautiful work that develops in student MLBs, and we would be grateful for the chance to share examples with others who are just beginning their Oak Meadow journey.

5. Make a memory collage. This is another project that is a lot of fun to do together as a family. Did you go on any memorable trips or outings this past year? What were some of the funniest moments? Do any particular words come to mind that can be woven into this tangible reminder of what this year meant to your family?

6. Have children evaluate themselves. Let each child write an end-of-year report on their own progress. What did you do really well this year? What areas would you like to keep working on improving? Include this report in their file, portfolio, or record for the year. When the new year rolls around, revisit it to remind yourselves about things your child would like to continue to work on.

Photo credit: Fuller Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: Fuller Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

7. Give silly awards. Some children are motivated by competition and love getting recognition for their accomplishments. In the spirit of a collaborative learning environment, keep it light and make it funny. Best ice-cream cone eater! Most devoted user of the color purple! If you have multiple children, have them secretly nominate each other for the “best…” and create fancy certificates or ribbons for each other. Have a mock awards ceremony complete with pomp and circumstance.

8. Share your child’s work with others. If you are both comfortable with it, plan a “show and tell” gathering and invite people who would enjoy seeing and learning about the wonderful work your child has done over the past year. You might have your child display their favorite projects or creations, share their Main Lesson Books, mark favorite lessons in their curriculum books, show photos of memorable events, offer a performance, and/or give a little speech about what they have most enjoyed learning. Be thoughtful in limiting your invitations to close friends and family who are supportive of your educational choices and who will be more appreciative than critical.

9. Write your child a keepsake letter. Describe what you have witnessed in their growth over the past year, in academics and other areas of their development. Keep it positive. Point out some of the things you have enjoyed most in working with them this year. Perhaps you recognize important accomplishments that may not be seen by the outside world. Give them the gift of words handwritten on sturdy paper that they can keep, treasure, and reread when they need a boost of confidence.

Photo credit: Cathy Conder (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: Cathy Conder
(Oak Meadow Archives)

10. Celebrate their way. Rites of passage are important in children’s development, and the transition from one phase to the next can be very meaningful. Let them tell you how they would like to mark this transition. This may feel especially important after the first year of learning at home, at a time when their peers are marking a similar transition (such as the end of elementary or middle school, the beginning of high school, or high school graduation), and at the end of their homeschooling or distance-learning journey.

Above all, remind your child (and yourself) how proud you are of their willingness to approach learning in a creative, heart-centered way. This requires a leap of faith on everyone’s part, and it is so gratifying to reach the end of the year and look back on the things that went well. Congratulate yourselves, and look forward to whatever the new year will bring when the time comes.

How do you celebrate the end of the (home)school year? What are your family’s traditions? Do you have any new or different ideas to add to the above list of suggestions?