Friday, August 26, 2016

Thoughts on Starting the Year!

Somehow it is almost the end of August and many of us are gearing up to start another year of home education.   But, some are starting for the first time "officially".  I was inspired to write this as I talked to some moms at my church who are starting to home educate this year.

I started thinking back on the last 12 years of home education.  I remember that first year I thought that maybe homeschooling would be a good idea.  I remember being scared.  I actually started practicing with Singapore Math books the spring and winter before to just see how it would go.  I think now I would have just gone to the zoo more and counted some animals, but  I was worried and a dry run seemed like a good idea.

So I have been thinking this week, what would I tell my old self 12 years ago, and what would I tell moms who are starting in 2016?  This is what I came up with.

1.   When your vision of the perfect school year is ruined by about day three, remember it is OK to have some really bad days.  Those days do not make you a bad home educator.  You are not Mary Poppins and there are no chalk drawings to jump into.  Take a deep breath and go outside, make a blanket fort, serve a snack, go for a walk, or put everyone in the car and go to the park.  Tomorrow is a new day.  

2.  Plan for the future, but don't worry about home educating past this year.  I remember starting with a six year old and one of the common questions people asked me was, "What are you going to do about high school?"  I was busy thinking about what to serve for dinner and managing 5 other children.

 No one knows the future.  I could not have even imagined all the on-line classes, co-op classes, and resources available to my high school students today.  I also did not know how I would change in the process of home education.  So another deep breathe and tell folks that you are just trying to get through this year.  You will evaluate at the end of this year what you are going to do next year, then smile and walk away.

3.   Complete your school day and then stop.  Really. Being consistent over time is more important than working many hours each day.   If you work 4-5 days per week, you will have achieved great things at the end of the year.  Kids can only absorb so much.  Go back to item one and serve a snack. 

 5.  Take a deep breath and remember that this is the only year your child will be 5, 6, 10. 14, 16 etc.  Sometimes that is great news and sometimes it is sobering.  

6.  Find a friend that you can call when things are hard and be honest with.   Remember to also celebrate with them when things go well.

7  Reach out for help.   Ask others how they schedule their day, what they do when their child refuses to do a math page,  or what they let go of in their lives to keep homeschooling.  Don't assume that everyone else is Mary Poppins and you are not. 

8.  Finally, don't forget to smile at your children and hug them.  Your goal is not to just give them information, but to build a wonderful relationship with them.  Enjoy the front row seat in watching them become the  person God created them to be.  It really is a privilege.

Becky with one of the real Mary Poppins.

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