Friday, August 3, 2012

New Beginnings

    This fall we will begin our 4th year of homeschooling. It’s hard to believe that my oldest will be in 3rd grade! It seems like yesterday she was a baby and kindergarten seemed like an eternity away. My how time flies!

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    I wish I could say our homeschool journey has been all roses and sunshine, but it has not. There have been many battles of will and frustration. I started homeschooling with a lot of preconceived notions of how school at home should be done. This placed a lot of stress on our relationship as I tried desperately to meet these lofty expectations.

    This year I am determined to approach my children’s education from a completely different perspective. If I don’t make some changes in attitude and expectations, we won’t be able to continue to homeschool. I really do love homeschooling. I don’t want to quit, but I recognize that maintaining a good relationship is of far greater importance. The following is a list of the changes I am determined we will make to see that this happens.

 1. Focus on the basics

I’ve spent the past 3 years schooling under this crazy notion that I have to teach my girls everything they ever need to know all in one year! I realize now that that is impossible and unnecessary. What I can do is take one day at a time, one subject at a time. The most important skills they need to learn are the three R’s. Everything else will come with time.

2. Stop comparing ourselves to everyone else

This one will be the hardest to accomplish as I constantly struggle with feeling like I don’t measure up. I’m always looking at what others are doing and feeling like I come up short. This year I want to focus on the path God is leading us down and not worry about what everyone else is doing. I want to look at others’ homeschools for inspiration and encouragement, not as a measuring line I can never reach. My children are unique individuals who need to be taught according to their needs and interests, not someone else’s.

3. Be present in my children’s learning

I am a multi-tasker by nature so it is hard for me to just sit with my girls and help them learn. I have a tendency to say “here, do this worksheet” while I get up and go wash the dishes, make a phone call, do the laundry, etc… This causes great frustration when the girls don’t fully understand what they are working on. They also become easily distracted when I’m not there to help when they need it. This year I will be present and make sure they fully understand the material before I let them work independently.

4. See my children as adults–to-be, not walking encyclopedias

I’ve been viewing education as a process of dumping lots of facts into my girls’ heads so they look good in front of others. But this is obviously not the point.  The point is for them to learn how to solve problems. To be equipped with the skills they need to function as self sufficient adults, and to be able to think intelligently about what they read, see, and hear out in the real world.

God has been gracious enough to reveal these needed changes to me. I trust that by that same grace, He will enable me to carry them out. So here’s to a year of fresh starts, and new beginnings.

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