Today is a New Day

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats

I love the line in Chicken Little when he pulls himself up by the proverbial bootstraps and sets out to be a changed man, er, chicken. He’s had setbacks. He’s faced disappointments. He’s been fearful.

Yet, he declares with confidence, “Today is a new day.”

And that is how we homeschool parents should approach the start of 2012. Whether you school year-round or are just getting back in the saddle after a holiday break, the start of the new year offers us fresh perspective, and in a sense, a clean slate.

Sure, many of us started school in August, but we get a second “back-to-school” after the holiday recess. At least that’s how I like to look at. Because, so far this school year, I’ve not been on my game.

We started off with a bang and then we interrupted homeschool with vacation/travel school in October and then in November and December our family got dragged down by illness. The last three months seem like a blur. And I don’t feel like I’ve been the best teacher I could be.

Earlier this week Toni shared some great points about how to evaluate progress at this halfway point. She posed the following questions:

  • Are we having fun?
  • Are we making progress?
  • Is the curriculum working?

These are excellent questions for you and your students to answer in assessing how school is working for everyone. As we look forward into the latter half of the year, I’ve got a few more questions to think about:

Why are we doing this?

Whether you are having a stellar school year or not, it’s important to remember what’s most important. Each family has slightly different motivations for teaching their kids at home. And this is a good time to remind yourself why you’re doing it.

Some possible answers:

  • We want to develop deep family relationships.
  • We want to guide our children’s education personally instead of delegating it to strangers.
  • We want to plant a joy of learning and exploring in our kids’ hearts.

There are all kinds of reasons for homeschooling. Now is a good time to remind yourself why you are living outside the box.

Action: Write a list of your motivations for homeschooling and put it where you can see it and be encouraged to press on.

What is most important to my child’s education this year?

With six or so months left until the traditional changing of grades, graduation, promotion, etc, it’s a great time to think forward to what is really important in these next six months. Perhaps learning to read is a goal on the list for your child. Or maybe it’s mastering the multiplication tables. Maybe you have a rocking science program that you just want to see to the end.

Whatever goals you created back in the summer or fall, now is a great time to reassess.

  • Are these still important?
  • Are there other goals to add?
  • What is most important for this child, right now?

We can’t do everything we think we should do everyday. We have to prioritize. Just as you need to narrow your field of vision when you look at your daily to-do list, determine your priorities for each child in the time that remains in the school year. Put these in the forefront of your mind and focus on those two or three things.

Action: For the child who’s old enough, ask him what he wants to make sure he learns this year. (You can prompt as necessary.) Write these down where you can both see them. Help your child achieve his goals.

How can we enjoy these fleeting moments?

Maybe it’s because I turn 40 in 2012, but I’m daily reminded at how quickly time is passing. My eldest is going to be 15! How did this happen?!

One of the most beautiful aspects of homeschooling, in my mind, is that I get to spend my days with my kids. How remarkable an experience it is to watch a young child grow and develop and become an adult.

Perhaps it really is living outside the box, because I am NOT counting down the days until they leave the nest. I know that day will come too soon. And I want to savor every moment of this day.

As we look forward into the new year, let’s savor every moment. Ask yourself:

  • What learning activities can we do as a family?
  • Where can we go that will enrich our school as well as our time spent together?
  • How can I slow down and focus on each child?

Action: Craft some goals for the new year that involve family time together. If your schedules are constantly go-go-go, work out ways to stop and smell the roses — together.

Today is a new day.

The new year is upon us. It’s all-too easy for me to look back and see how I coulda-shoulda-woulda.

But, I know all too well, that kind of navel gazing doesn’t help me change. Making plans for the new day does. Now, go enjoy this fresh start.

How are you embracing the new year?

About Jessica

Once a public high school teacher, Jessica now homeschools five of her six children, covering 2nd through 10th grades. Her oldest is in college, so the experiment appears to have worked! Grab a copy of Jessica’s new cookbook Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less and the accompanying monthly meal plan to help you save money, eat well, and enjoy some freer time.


  1. “One of the most beautiful aspects of homeschooling, in my mind, is that I get to spend my days with my kids.” AMEN! This year has been a year of transformation for us as a homeschooling family. We have been able to let go of a lot of societal pressures and have really started focusing on who our children are and how they learn. I know that sounds like a “duh” kind of statement, but we just got so wrapped up in doing “what was expected.” Thank goodness for grace:) And looking forward to the New Year…I am so excited for all of the joys and challenges that this new day will bring! Thank you for your inspirational words:)
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  2. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I too started the school year with a bang in August, and just as we were getting settled into a routine, my husband suffered a heart attack in late September. After spending 5 days with him in the hospital an hour away from home, followed by his recovery period and multiple doctor appointments, I was never able to get back into a routine before the holiday season was upon us. Thanksgiving, my husband’s 45th birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s all have new meaning this year. I was so grateful to have him still with us, and have learned that the most important lessons we learn in life are not those lessons we plan for each day, but the lessons we learn when the unplanned events take place.

    Now I’m beginning my planning for the new year, and hoping to get our family back into a routine. Reading this is a reminder to me to not get overwhelmed by all that I think needs to be done, but to remember that even when life doesn’t go according to my plan, God has even more important lessons for us to learn when we allow Him to lead us through our days. Thank you for the reminder and blessings to your family!

  3. A great post for this time of year. Like you I’ve had struggles that got in the way of being able to focus as I’d like to on our homeschool. We’ve been building a house and moving which took every scrap of energy, now I’m ready to channel that into our home life! I’m developing a new curriculum based on Ambleside but I really like your reminder to focus on what your true goals are. For us that is independent reading and I need to bear that in mind in my excitement to tick our way through numerous book lists and fun audios I want to listen to! Wishing you a great new year ; )
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  4. I had a blur of a first 3 months at school too…In the new year, I want to enjoy this first year of homeschool more, have more fun and less stress. I want to not care about the state testing that we must do under the charter school, and most of all want to make learning more fun. 🙂
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  5. nancy sullivan says:

    so many thanks for such a great and uplifting post. it has been a trying year for us; more so than usual. i needed to hear someone remind me to remember why we are doing this. in my head a voice sort of bewildered said “Oh yeah….that’s why…” i had honestly lost sight of it, thank you…

  6. Sigh… Thank you Jessica!
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  7. This is my first year of homeschooling. I was so excited to start this semester because I know what I want to change.

  8. Jessica, I’m pretty much leaving this post of yours up as a tab while I plan our next semester in another tab. Thanks so much for this refreshing reminder! I love new semesters and new years—I just love clean slates, actually. That’s how I see this spring semester, because our fall was ca-razy.

    Thankful for you and for this post!

  9. I remember using the holiday break as a time to consider if the curriculum choices I made turned out like I had planned, was it possibly to time to make some changes? Were there new classes or activities we wanted to start? Since we started school in July each year, this was truly a mid-year break. (we schooled almost year-round due to a seasonal family business that took up time in Spring and Fall).
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  10. winter inspiration! We all need more of this!
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  11. Exactly. Thank you.

  12. Totally agree. I changed up a bunch of stuff with the schedule for starting this week. We needed the break and what works best for the kids keeps changing. It is a good time to re-evaluate and make changes.
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  13. Thank you so much. I really needed to read this right now after a rough afternoon of attempting to teach my six year old who was having a

  14. I laughed out loud as I read this. Praise God for the Internet!

    The last full week of school we had was before Thanksgiving. I’ve been Queen Crankypants all week. All stressed out b/c of sickness, not being able to get my stuff together for January…blah blah.

    Sat down for an hour yesterday to look over the schedule and WHADDYA KNOW! We’re right on time to finish up in June.

    Thanks for your “back to basics” pep-talk. Once I take my 1980’s “Chill Pill” and sit back to rethink WHY WE’RE DOING THIS, perspective kicks in and I find myself enjoying the whole home-education thing all over again. Funny how that happens!

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