Many public and private schools are starting the new year, and it’s not surprising that many homeschoolers use the fall to "get back into the groove" of things. Whether moving up to the next level in curriculum, adding a new subject, or simply trying something new, “back-to-school” can be an exciting time of rejuvenation and starting anew for home educators. It's easy, though, to get caught up in the whirlwind of curriculum, practices, scheduled events, and educational endeavors that before you know it, the year is halfway over and you wonder where the time has gone. As those with grown children know all too well, when raising a family, the days often seem to pass slowly, but the years pass way too quickly.
This year, take some time to evaluate what you really want to accomplish in your home school. What are your ultimate goals for your children and family? Is what you’re doing every day accomplishing those goals? It’s very easy to get caught up in the urgent, and miss out on the important. As I reflect on the past few homeschooling years, and what I truly want for my children in the future, I’ve learned some principles that help to keep me on track throughout my homeschooling journey. One of those is that it is our direction, or the path we walk every day, which determines our destination. So here is a little back-to-school perspective that helps to keep me focused on what really matters in my homeschool, so my kids and my family end up where we ultimately want to be.
- Enjoying my children, and delighting and investing in who they are as persons, is much more important than any academic work we get accomplished.
- No matter how much my children know, that knowledge will not ultimately benefit them and others unless they are persons of character.
- Knowing when to back off and take a break from school is just as important as doing school.
- Each of my children is unique and different, which is what I love about them. I must honor and build on their individual uniqueness rather than try to fit them into any particular mold (or compare them to each other).
- The benefits of lessons, sports, and other extra-curricular activities must be weighed against the liability of disrupted (and precious) family time.
- Discipline is critical to learning; if my children are not able to behave appropriately, they will not be able to learn effectively.
- My child’s spirit matters more than being sure she “gets” whatever concept we are working on.
- Comparing any child to anyone else is damaging and destructive. I must not gauge my child’s progress on the progress of others, but recognize that he or she is on his or her own unique journey.
- If education is intended to prepare children to be knowledgeable, competent individuals who can function in and contribute to society, then knowing how to cook, repair a vehicle, fix computer problems, manage money, run a household, perform basic first aid, navigate the political process, and demonstrate an employable skill are just as important parts of the curriculum as Math, Science, English and History.
- Reading aloud should be a part of our home school, even when the kids are able to read on their own.
- The schedule is never more important than the child.
- What I spend time teaching my children, and what they see in me, is what they will value. If I want them to be persons who are truthful, self-controlled, compassionate, discerning, responsible, patient, determined, and grateful, then these are the things I must spend time teaching, and must demonstrate myself.
- Depth of knowledge, as well as how to apply that knowledge, is more beneficial for my children than simply meeting public school standards or getting answers correct on a test.
- I not only want to teach my child information, I want to instill in them a love for learning. Consequently, following a spark of interest my child shows is often more important than following my plan or schedule.
- Diligence and initiative are much more important than results.
- Rest, nutrition, exercise, and stress level are all significant factors in how well my child is able to learn. “Pushing through” academics when she is tired, hungry, antsy, or upset will only be frustrating for me and damaging to her spirit.
- Learning is not always fun, and it doesn’t always have to be. But it should be, whenever possible.
- What my children learn or do is never more important than who they are.
- Homeschooling is a long distance run rather than a short term sprint. Children make strides at different paces, at different times, so if they seem to have a block in understanding a certain concept, I should simply take a break from that concept and come back to it at a later time.
- What I praise in my children is what they will want to do and be more of. I must praise their character rather than their looks, abilities, or intelligence.
- Thinking, “Will this really matter in 20 years?” can help me not get stuck on the small frustrations, and focus instead on the things that are truly important.
- Time passes quickly, and in a few short years all of the frustrations and worries of today’s homeschool will be gone and our children will be grown. My focus each day should be on the big picture over the small details, the person over the content, character over competence, the effort over the results, and faith over control.
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