Homeschool planning made easy: use a survey
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When you are stuck with your homeschool planning and aren’t sure what direction to go, it’s a great idea to ask your kids for their input. Because who better to get homeschooling advice from than your kids?
(Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.)
At our house, we give a homeschool planning survey at the beginning of every year, usually while we are eating ice cream on our first day of school. Then we survey again on the last day of school, which helps me to sort of get prepared for the next year.
And yes, I realize that surveying your kids on the first day of school doesn’t give you a whole lot of warning for say, some huge thing revealed in their answers that means you suddenly have to change some aspect of your homeschooling experience. If you need more warning, survey at a different time. We are class A punters here, so surveys over ice cream on the day after labor day works fabulously.
(Keep reading for examples of homeschooling planning survey questions we have used over the years.)
A homeschool planning survey: who is it good for?
Some kids are chatty and have no problem sharing their thoughts about school in a verbal discussion, but other kids need something a little different. A homeschool planning survey is great for:
— kids who need to think about their answers,
— kids that feel more comfortable writing things out,
— kids who are easily swayed by their sibling’s opinions in a verbal discussion,
— parents who like to go back read their kids’ answers—or (cough) can’t remember what was said unless it’s written down (cough)
You can do this on good ol’ fashioned paper or use some technology by making a survey through Google forms or a survey site you may have access too.
What questions will help best with homeschool planning?
Have a good mix of yes/no and open-ended questions. Our purpose here is to get some meaty answers, not, “yeah. sure. ok. fine.”
When coming up with questions, don’t make them too broad—especially if you have kids who get overwhelmed. Instead of, what do you want to study for history, try are you more interested in people, places, or events?
If there are things you’ve been thinking about integrating into your homeschooling, the survey is a great place to test them out. There is a weekly art class being offered at the local theater. Does that sound interesting to you? or This year we will be getting more involved in 4H—would you like to learn how to show a llama at the fair? or Life skills are important. What would you like to improve on most this year: cooking or sewing?
Is it time to change curriculum? Do you need to change up your schedule? If you’ve got a gut feeling that something isn’t working with your homeschool set-up, make sure you weave it into a question or two. You may find out that your inkling was wrong. However, you may also discover that something you thought was working great, isn’t working so great at all. And those are valid, important things to figure out!
Examples of questions for a homeschool planning survey:
A homeschool planning survey will look different from family to family, and even year to year within the same family. Here are some examples of questions to get you going!
Do you think our school hours should be 9-noon or 10 am to 1 pm?
If you could make your own school supply list, what would it be?
Tell me three places you’d like to go as a field trip this year.
If you got to plan science class, what would you teach?
How would you like to work on writing: writing stories, answering an opinion/question of the day, free writing for five minutes in a journal, or another idea?
What extra-curricular things would you like to try (or continue in) this year?
What is your favorite subject or thing we do in school?
What is your least favorite subject (or thing we do) and how can we make it better?
Have older kids who are more independent? Make the questions in a homeschooling planning survey work for you.
Perhaps your family is less structured. Maybe you have older kids who do most of their schoolwork on their own—or are working towards independence.
Do you want to have a start time for school or just have your own schedule? (For awhile, I had one kid who wanted a free, unscheduled day and another kid who wanted a start time because otherwise he’d never get started. And I didn’t know that until I asked.)
Do you want a daily list of things to accomplish? A weekly list? Random check-ins? (Again, at one point, I had one kid who was fine to go on a whole week without checking in, another kid who wanted daily check-ins or he wouldn’t stay on task.)
Are there any subjects you’d like to do with me? (I had one kid who wanted to take the math book and go, and one kid who wanted me to sit by him and explain everything.)
What are some things we used to do as homeschoolers that you wish we still did? (This was a question that helped me realize that the review games—like the Fab Friday quiz—we’d stopped doing because I thought our sons had outgrown them…they actually still wanted to do.)
What specific topics/subjects/events/interests do you want to study this year and how can I help you with that? (The answer may be finding them a different teacher. It might be driving them to a class an hour away twice a week. It might be helping them to find a mentor.)
Describe what you think would be a (realistic) perfect day of homeschool in the upcoming school year. (Make sure you add realistic, because “sleeping until 3 pm and eating pizza in my room while staring at the ceiling in my underwear” might not be the most helpful answer for you.)
Put answers from the homeschool planning survey to use.
Make sure you do follow-up discussions or surveys to clarify the answers your kids gave. One year, one of my sons said he wanted to do completely independent school. Which was totally fine, it’s just that our definitions of completely independent school were completely different.
A homeschool survey is a great jumping off point for discussions about the upcoming school year. It helps your kids to feel like they’ve got input into their homeschool experience, and it helps you to know where they really are and how they feel about their life as a homeschooler.
Communication is key in a successful homeschool experience, and a survey can be a great tool to help it happen.
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