As homeschool parents, we have this recurring fantasy that our kids will go through the entire school year without a hitch. We have the perfect school year planned(fantasized) in our minds. Our curricula are ready to go, we have ordered/prepped/written everything we need and the kids will love it and do their school work without prompting.
Only they don’t, they won’t, and they fight every step of the way. Or most of it is just fine, but the thing they hate the most is the one thing you were positive they would love!
Is the whole year a failure, or the setback so great that you would not do it again?
No. Because even through our failures, missteps and best laid plans, we are learning. Through our learning, our kids are learning – they are learning how to deal with mistakes and failures. I firmly believe that the freedom to fail and pull yourself up by your bootstraps to do it again, only better, is the core of what makes us stronger people – of course we want to protect our kids from the worst of life, but failure isn’t something we should protect them from. We should relish in the opportunity to fail miserably in order to have even greater success. Those who say failure is not an option have never truly risked everything to succeed.
When we choose to homeschool, we are risking everything for the greatest of payoffs: self-sufficient, confident, brilliant adults that we raised.
Let’s step back a moment and really look at the school year:
1. Have they learned? Have they grown?
Really – this is important for so many obvious reasons, academics, etc., but also for some not so obvious reasons. The only constant in life is change, and if you are not learning, you are not changing and growing. If you’re not changing and growing then you are not really living. I believe that our single biggest responsibility in the education of our children is to teach them to teach themselves.
If they are taking the initiative to learn something on their own without prompting, then can tell you about what they learned, you have done well.
2. What have you learned about their needs and desires?
Every school year gives us the opportunity to improve as parents and educators. I know that there are things that I did amazingly well. I also know there are things I failed miserably in doing! The trick in becoming the parent and teacher they need us to be, is to be able to adapt when things go wrong, and capitalize on our successes. This is a life skill that our kids will take into adult-hood, and is worth learning early!
So step back and look at what you did well, and what you would like to do better. Then look at how you’ll accomplish that next year.
3. Did you accomplish the goals you set for the year, or at least come close?
We tend to set goals for ourselves and our children that are unattainable in the time given. I set high standards and goals for myself and my kids, I know that if we get 75% of the way to the goals I set for the year, we’re ahead of where kids the same age would be. Yes, I am that ambitious! If this is your first year of homeschooling after removing your kids from public school, understand that the first year is generally not as productive as later years. There are lots of reasons for this, but the biggest one is this YOU. You are learning to teach your kids, you are learning to work with your kids, you are learning to discipline them in ways that don’t leave them crying in a corner and encourage them to better themselves.
Usually after the first school year, no matter how great or terrible it was, it gets better, smoother and more organized. Be patient with yourself and look at how far you have come.
So was the year really a failure? Probably not, it just wasn’t everything you hoped it would be. Truth be told, it’s only a true failure if you don’t pick yourself up, dust yourself off and figure out how to do it better next year.