Written by Kara Fleck
“Hear ye! Hear ye! By royal proclamation of the headmistress of the Fleck Academy Homeschool, this mom declares that some things are going to change around here, and high time, too. So, hang on to your hats, people!”
Okay, perhaps I’m not starting the new year on quite as dramatic note as that, though it was tempting to rent a jester costume for the announcement.
What brought all this on, you ask?
We took three weeks off from lessons, and I spent some of that time going over the first half of the year. While I was lounging with my eggnog and holiday cookies and pondering life as a homeschooling mama, it occurred to me that I need to be more of a quitter.
Specifically, there are three things I need to stop doing in our homeschool (and one that I would like to start).
3 Things I’m Going to Quit Doing in Our Homeschool
1. Micromanaging my high school student
I suspect it is because she is my oldest, but I’m having a difficult time not worrying over my ninth grader and her school work. It just seems like such a HUGE deal, you know?
But the truth is, she’s doing just fine. She’s kind, she works hard, she’s discovering who she is.
And every day there’s evidence that she’s on a good path.
For instance, over our break, I noticed her reading for pleasure consisted of Little Women, Moby Dick, and Hamilton: the Revolution.
After giving myself a mental pat on the back (“this amazing child obviously gets her love of reading from her mother”), I acknowledged the truth: she loves to learn and that is going to take her far.
Maybe instead of fretting over every detail, what I need is to back off (take a “chill pill” as we used to say in the olden days) and relax a little?
Okay, so she still needs me to micromanage her math lessons (something I know is more personality than ability) but really, I can let her take ownership of this high school thing. She’s doing well in all of her lessons.
I will freak out again (and again) as we continue this experience, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing for her is for me to get out of her way, let her be responsible for herself, and recognize that she’s got this.
And, if there’s ever a time when she isn’t doing just fine, we will handle it together. Just like we have for the past ten years of homeschooling.
2. Fixing things that aren’t broken
Why, oh why are we homeschoolers attracted to the shiny? The grass that looks so green and lush over there on the other side of that fence?
If it isn’t broken, if it’s truly working for me and my kids, I need to resist the urge to fix or replace it.
For instance, I have been using a simple notebook for homeschool planning for years. It works for me.
But a few months back I saw that another homeschooler was using a lovely planner. I got stars in my eyes and just had to give it a try. Guess what? It wasn’t effective for me, despite how doggone cute it was (bright colors and adorable little watercolor woodland animals and plants).
For the second half of our year, I’m going back to the method that I know works for me.
3. Letting the papers pile up
I know. I know. I say this every year, but this year I mean it: I’m going to deal with the papers.
I spent an entire afternoon going through the massive paper jam and towering mess on my desk (and the floor beside my desk) from our first semester of school work, and I realized that I just cannot keep doing that to myself.
It’s too overwhelming and goodness knows I don’t need another thing to feel guilty about.
So, here’s the paperwork plan:
- Don’t keep everything. Their best work, their favorite projects can be saved for the homeschool portfolios, but the rest I can let go, perhaps taking a photograph and saving to a digital file for some of it. Max’s Art Club self portrait goes in the “keep” pile, for sure.
- Go through papers on a regular basis. Ideally I will go through all the papers once a week after we finish lessons, but a more realistic goal is probably once a month. That’s totally do-able, right?
One thing I’m going to begin doing
Over the holidays we listened to Christmas music every day. I started it in the morning when I made my coffee and we played it in the background all day long.
Gradually, the holiday tunes gave way to a local classical music station but we’ve kept the habit of listening to music.
I love it! It feels like it calms our household and is certainly more enjoyable to listen to than the Minecraft music we had been spending our afternoons with (there is still plenty of Minecraft, just with the volume turned down so the kitchen stereo can dictate the airwaves in our house).
I want to continue this habit and be intentional about having lovely background music playing during our lesson time.
What about you, dear readers? As we start this new year, are there any things you hope to quit? Any things you hope to begin?
Good for you! Here’s wishing you well in your plan! 🙂
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The papers! What I do is keep a file in my file cabinet and only the super special stuff (like an art project, recital program, field trip info) goes in, usually dictated by the kids. Then, I take photos all year of the kids doing science experiments, reading together, even stack the current books up and photograph those then put the special (and work-recording) moments in their Shutterfly yearbook. I have two made so when they grow up they can take them with them. Love the music background idea!! Doing that.
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A Shutterfly Year Book….genius!! Thanks!!
I love this post, especially the part about not fixing what’s not broken and adding music to the day. It’s nice to hear it throughout the day.
One thing we’ve added in this week is actual “read to self” time after breakfast. I clean up and get the house ready for the day and the kiddo heads to the couch to read quietly until I’m ready. Then we have our morning time together. It’s been a very nice start to our day.
This is a fantastic idea!!! Thanks for sharing!
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Great list! Hard to accomplish things like micro-managing teenagers…..good luck 🙂 Haha I always had trouble with that one!
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Jen|Practical by default
Love this, we too have the Minecraft music, so…lovely and all but I think a different tune might just switch things up a bit. For this momma’s sake anyway!
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Kara-The part about not fixing what’s broken? yeah, I need to heed that advice 🙂 What is it about the mid-year slump that makes my fingers itch to buy a new set of curriculum-even when the things we have been using are doing a great job? But on a lighter note–my oldest just discovered a coffeehouse jazz station on Amazon music and it is making me very very happy! Happy 2017-thank you for the perspective!
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I wish I could do the music idea, I have tried it in the past but my boys are 6 & 4 and there are often times when I have to turn off anything that adds to the lovely natural noise of our house in motion ???? . I would love to try it when they are a little older though.
Good luck with your plans!! Everything you said struck a familiar chord with me. We have gone through phases with the music and I always love it… When I remember to try it again I wonder why I ever stopped.
All of this is me exactly. I need to stop being up my son’s butt about stuff that he’s got handled. And the paperwork. OH the paperwork! I’ve left all the cleaning and prep for school for tomorrow! We start the day after! Ack! All my good intentions for the holiday break went right out the window