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?