Fresh Start for Homeschool in the New Year

Here’s a fresh start for homeschool in the New Year. You can always reboot and recalibrate when you are homeschooling!

Fresh Start for Homeschool in the New Year

Fresh Start for Homeschool in the New Year

There’s nothing like a new year for starting over! That’s why Januarys are such great months for recalibrating and rebooting our homeschools.

My five high schoolers and I would take January each year for a mid-year review and re-do! Here’s what we did, so hopefully it is of help to you and your homeschooling teens. In this post, we will discuss Januarys and fresh starts:

  • January is a great time to review the good things
  • It is a good time to catch up on things that have not gone well
  • January is a good time to set new goals

January is a great time to review the good things

We spent time each January to ask ourselves what went well. One thing I worked on was to concentrate on the positive. If you are like me, it is easy to find the tough stuff and harder to find the good. However, people make adjustments better from a position of strength, so we started with the things that were okay:

  • Academically
  • Physically
  • Emotionally
  • Spiritually
  • Socially
  • In personal development

Mid-year review: concentrate on the positives

Academic review

Fortunately for us, our umbrella school provided an academic mid-year review. These reviews are such a wonderful perk of being in an umbrella school or other supervisory organization. (You cannot imagine how many times I said to my teens, “It’s not MY fault you have to finish that paper…you need it for your mid-year review.)

However, if you are starting fresh this January on your own, you can follow the same ideas we used.

First, you can check over the goals you set the summer before. What is going well with:

As I said, concentrate on the positive. We will get to the things that need to get fixed later in this post.

Physical goals review

If you are like me, self-care goals have slipped through the cracks during the month of December. The same is true for many teens.

This is a good time to be kind and note what your teens did pull off:

High school health for the whole person
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Emotional growth review

It is easy to ignore emotional health when we are trying to keep our heads above water with the academic goals. However, emotional health is vitally important for teens (and parents).

Take a moment and note some accomplishments your teens have made:

  • Times they managed their tempers
  • The time on vacation when they could have engaged their “hangry” but instead, took a breath and grabbed a snack.
  • Times they managed their time well on a project or paper
  • Choices they made to engage in the 3Ws during stressful times (What am I feeling? Why am I feeling that way? What am I going to do about it? – things they are learning in their 7Sisters Health text.)

Spiritual development review

Adolescents can vary wildly in where they are spiritually at any time. Sometimes they might be in a phase where they have questions about faith. Other times they might be deeply involved in church youth group, worship team or other activities.

It is wise to not to get preachy with your teens. Rather, it is more helpful model a healthy spiritual development yourself. However, you can thank them for the spiritual investments they are making.

Where did you notice them:

Social review

Real life is so much more than academics. Teens need the skills of good character in order to have a healthy social life.

Take a moment and tell your teens where you noticed:

  • Occasions when they showed kindness or civility and other good-character qualities
  • Spent positive time with friends, a group or an organization

Personal development review

One of the most important gifts of homeschooling high school is the chance to help your teens discover and gr

Career Exploration Bundle
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ow into the people God created them to be.

Help your teen celebrate skills they have been working on.(However, remember, don’t get stressed about the things that there has not been opportunity to work on. This is a guilt-free exercise.)

Did you and your teens notice that they had actually accomplished a LOT during the first semester of their school year? That’s awesome! Praise God!

BTW- Our friend, Felice Gerwitz, at the Vintage Homeschool Moms podcast has instructions on making this review fun by creating a New Year memory book.

January is a good time to catch what has not gone well

Nobody is perfect. Life happens and we all have to let some balls drop. (This is a good time to listen to our advice to new homeschool moms, it helps to remember at mid-year each year.)

Therefore, in a guilt-free way, gently discuss that things that have not gone so well.

Mid-year review: Graciously face the things that did not go well

Academic tough-stuff review

Now, it is time to face the unfinished or ignored academics. Remember: no guilt-trips. No one completes all their academic goals. That is just life! We are simply facing the facts together.

Now, we can check over the goals we had set the summer before. What are the things that did not go so well and why?

Write down what is behind or simply lost in the shuffle of life.

  • Book list
  • Papers written
  • Progress on textbook courses
  • Log sheets on courses that need logged hours to earn the credit or logged hours for science labs
  • Progress with online courses
  • Extracurriculars (were they documented?)
  • Service hours
  • Other activities (such as competitions)

Physical goals tough-stuff review

Discuss together the things that fell off the radar or were disrupted by illness or other necessary (or unnecessary) distractions. Again, no guilt-trips, just honest noting of what has been tough.

Be kind but discuss together what did not go well. Let your teen lead this discussion.

Go easy on writing down what is behind in this category. Just discuss.

  • What goals did not happen with their physical activity?
  • Do they need to recalibrate their self-respectful nutrition and a healthy relationship with food?
  • Where are they in their Health curriculum?

Emotional growth tough-stuff review

Go easy on this category (unless you are a perfect role model of emotional regulation). Talk about places you both need to grow. No need to write any shortcomings down. Simply discuss the following questions.

What would they like to work on with their own emotional regulation?

  • Being aware of when they are HALT? (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired)
  • Doing better time management?
  • Learning the 3Ws for stressful times?

Spiritual development review

This is another area to not appear critical. Instead, ask your teens where they want to discuss, learn or grow in their spiritual development.

Remember: It is wise not to get preachy with your teens, but to model a healthy spiritual development yourself. Therefore, rather than look for shortcomings, we will address spiritual growth in the goal setting section of this post.

Social tough-stuff review

Parents have to be careful not to be critical of social skills shortcomings, except in areas of blatant rudeness. However, social skills development is a great topic for discussion. Parents and teens can note areas where they have caught ourselves being hasty, rude or over negative around:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Groups

Remember: no guilt trips. This is simply an awareness exercise.

Personal development review

You can discuss these topics with your teens and write down the places where there have been glitches in:

  • Time management
    • Did they have a habit of running late for appointments or activities, staying up all night to get assignments done, etc?
  • Smart goals
    • Did your teen participate in goal setting for the academic year? How well are they working toward those goals?
  • Career Exploration
    • What were their Career Exploration goals? Were they able to invest in those goals?
  • Life skills
    • What new adulting skills did they learn (or not)?

Now that you and your teens have had a chance to review the positives and the not-so-good progress in their lives, it is time to set goals and make plans for moving forward. Yes, it is time for a fresh start for your homeschool year!

January is a good time to recalibrate

Now it is time to recalibrate and reboot for a mid-year fresh start for your homeschool new year! Be encouraged! You can do this!

Mid-year review: Recalibrate with hopefulness!

Here are some questions to ask yourself and your teens as you get ready for your reboot:

This is a fresh new year and a wonderful opportunity for fresh starts. You can do this!

Academic reboot for the new year

Now, you and your teens can set some new goals for a fresh start. Be sure you agree and write them down.

Get ready to create a new goal for any of these areas that are behind.

Do you need to change the goals for some courses?

  • Should you drop a course for this year?
    • Sometimes life has been too much and a specific course needs to wait till next year.
  • Do you need to switch curriculum?
  • Should you change the level of rigor of a course?
    • Is the course too hard?
    • Is the course too easy and your teen is bored?
      • Switch to a college textbook, an AP course, a college course or add meaningful activities like:
        • research papers on a topic of interest
        • additional real books (novels or non-fiction)
        • hands-on projects or field trips
        • more ideas in this post
  • Do you need to double up on assignments?
    • Should your teen drop some activities and add some extra academic time?

Physical goals for the new year

How can you and your teens recalibrate their physical care?

Discuss this together and write down the new goals

  • What new goals do they have for regular physical activity?
  • How will they set new goals for self-respectful nutrition and a healthy relationship with food?
  • What are their goals for working on their Health curriculum?
Free Apologetics curriculum from 7Sisters and Good Answers Ministries
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Spiritual development goals for the new year

Remember not to get preachy with your teens, rather, ask your teens what they need spiritually. Write down some goals (If teens push or are overwhelmed, give it some space- you can always pray for your teens and wait till they are ready.)

  • Do they have questions? Perhaps an Apologetics course will help.
  • Is there something specific they want to learn?
  • Do they want to work on their prayer life?

Social development goals for the new year

Are there social skills your teens want to work on? Ask your teens what they are. If they do not know, have them get started with reading a post on networking from my coaching blog.

Write down the goals!

Personal development goals

This category is where the real life-preparation happens. You can help your teen define some personal growth goals that will prepare them for success in the future.

Choose one or more of these categories for your teens’ fresh start.

Do not try to cover them all. You only have one semester until the end of the school year. Try not to be overwhelming.

  • Time management
    • Do you need to change the schedule?

      Scheduling Backwards
      Click image for full description.
    • Does your teen need to learn to use a planner and a calendar?
    • Would you like to teach your teens to schedule backwards for big papers and projects?
  • Smart goals
  • Career exploration
  • Life skills 
    • Work together with your teens to set some life skills goals. Then write them down!

Now, make short-term goals for catching up on any areas that need improvement.

Write down the goals along with expected dates for accomplishment of those goals. Here is more advice for

Smart Goals Worksheet.
Click image for full description.

making adjustments to your homeschool year.

You can use those Smart goals worksheets for this!

Remember, work on keeping yourself (or your teens) off any guilt trips. We all need to reboot and recalibrate at various times in life. That is why we have Januarys, so enjoy your fresh start this year!

In the meantime, have you joined our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group? It is such a wonderful place for encouragement (and to ask questions). Join us!

And help encourage your teens in balancing realistic expectations in this post.




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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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