As I compared the attendance number to the previous year's I noticed that we did have a drop in overall attendance. However, I had several families who attended every month (or close to every month) and at the end of the school year, I had several families who told me how much they loved the structure of the program and asked me to keep it the same way for this year.
One thing that went over so, so well was our End-of-the-Year Party. I held it on the second Friday in May, in lieu of presentations. One item my homeschooling consultant had brought up with me is that homeschoolers need recognition outside their homes and that homeschooling teachers need recognition, too! This is something that school children and school teachers get, so I wanted to create that experience for my homeschoolers, too.
I looked back over my attendance records and created a spreadsheet to show everyone's attendance over the year. I ordered participation ribbons for every child who had come at least once. I also had one child who had come every single month and three children who had only missed one month, so I ordered special perfect attendance awards for them. I also ordered little apple pins to give out to each homeschooling parent. The parents weren't expecting that and they were so thrilled. One mom told me it would probably be the only award she ever got for teaching (and to that I say: just wait 'til next year!).
There are many companies that sell these award products for schools and I ended up going with Jones School Supply and I was happy with their prices and the promptness of their shipping.
Towards the end of the spring, I started asking the families for suggestions for next year's topics and they had great ideas! I did insert a couple of my own ideas, but almost every theme we're doing is a suggestion from one of our families. I am always, always open to their feedback because I want these programs to fit as seamlessly as possible with what they're already planning for their homeschool.
Here's the brochure for our fall meetings that I put out last month. I wanted to get it out as soon as possible because I know people are planning their lessons for the fall. The sooner I get it out, the more likely homeschoolers will be to plan what they're doing around what I'm doing. We're doing the following topics this fall:
- September: Biographies (patron suggestion)
- October: Space (patron suggestion)
- November: Native American Heritage (my suggestion!)
- December: Cooking/Food (patron suggestion)
- January: Music (patron suggestion)
- February: Whatever You LOVE (patron suggestion was "Collections" but I tweaked it)
- March: Science (patron suggestion)
- April: Poetry (patron suggestion)
- May: End of the Year Party!
I do have a couple of changes that I'm going to make this year, but really only to my own contributions to the program. Several of the moms asked me to incorporate some more public-speaking instruction throughout the months. I don't know exactly how I'm going to do this, but I agree that it's necessary. Although I have seen some of the kids really coming out of their shells, some of them still talk really softly and it's hard for everyone to hear them. Suggestions for coaching young children (early elementary) on presentation skills are appreciated!!
And I am going to incorporate booktalks into every session this year. Having something to present myself helps fill some of the time if everyone gets through quickly or if we have a small crowd. I'm wondering if it also might help retain some folks whose children are too shy to participate much. And I love booktalking and highlighting some of the awesome books we have in our collection. It'll be helpful to homeschoolers, too, who might find some resources they didn't know about. (And it will be helpful to me to develop booktalks every month, which I can then reuse if we're able to set up some booktalking programs at the schools this year.)
I'm looking forward to another great year having fun with our homeschoolers!