I intended to finish the calendar year with a strong academic month. Of course, illness and a number of unforeseeable circumstances got in my way. In some ways, we limped to the finish line.
But, in other ways, we ran a good race. We spent more down time as a family, endeavored to be more patient with one another, had a chance just to rest, and focused on priorities rather than a completed lesson plan.
It got me thinking of how lovely it is to get a second fresh start when January 1 rolls around. And how I want to prioritize in the new year.
Here are five ways I hope to “put off the old man” and put on the new one in 2013:
1. Compare our school to our school. Not to someone else’s.
It’s so easy to compare our family school to someone else’s or even to the Perfect School in My Mind. Of course, there will always be something lacking in that scenario.
But, if I compare our school to our school last year or even last month, I see progress. I am encouraged. I know our trajectory and can adjust in a realistic way.
I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. I just need to keep up with our family’s vision of growth and learning.
2. Enjoy experiences, not checked boxes.
As my kids get bigger — I have children in 10th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st grades — it’s all too easy for me to get caught up in reaching academic milestones, making sure the chapters got read, and otherwise, checking off the boxes on my to do list.
When they were younger, it was easier to say, “Let’s go to the museum.” Or “let’s go to the Science Center.” I’ve lost my love of adventures, so I’m going to reclaim that in the new year.
San Diego offers free museum entrance every week on a rotating basis. We’ve never made the most of this. But, I am going to try. My guess is that your community offers free or discounted educational experiences as well. Let’s take advantage of those hands-on learning experiences.
3. Remember it’s gonna take the time it’s gonna take.
I often get impatient that a task takes longer than I think it will. This leads to anxiety and more than a little grumpiness. In 2013 I want to embrace the chaos and not sweat it if it takes all day to finish that science project or complete that math assignment.
This is learning. And learning takes time. We’ll all enjoy the ride more if I’m patient.
4. Embrace the days (and the daze).
At the end of every calendar year I put together a slide show of our family’s experiences from the previous year. I’m always stunned at how much my kids have changed over the months. When I watch the DVD’s of past years, I’m stunned that they were once so little.
Where did the time go?
I can be tempted to recall all the ways I messed up in those moments. A picture triggers a memory of my failures.
Instead, I’m going to embrace each day as an opportunity to love my kids, to enjoy the time we have together, and to hide the good, positive experiences in my heart.
5. Laugh more.
They say that laughter is the best medicine. I’m gonna guess it’s probably the best educational tool, as well. If we don’t take things quite so seriously, if we’re able to bring levity to our days and our challenges, we will be more cheerful people, our children will relax more, and we will all learn and grow more.
Will my new year go according to plan?
Oh, probably not. But, I’m going to try my best to enter the new year with a positive spin on our home and our school. That’s all I can ask of my kids. So that’s all I can ask of me, too.
What are your goals for the new year?