At the turn of each year we take the time to process the past year and become very creative in our attempts to change the direction of our lives via the infamous New Year’s Resolutions. This year we have the awesome opportunity to review the last decade of our lifelong journey and hopefully initiate some corrections to improve our future. As homeschoolers we should take the time to take inventory of our past successes and challenges. Why not take a few moments now and reflect on the past and revive the dream of directing your child to a successful life journey via the homeschool option? The following bullet points might provide some guidance in this reflective moment.
Often, we become so involved in the daily routine of homeschooling we tend to forget, or at least not pay attention to, the purpose of our homeschool journey. It is critically important that you do not lose sight of your dream and purpose. The question becomes: “Am I fulfilling my purpose through my daily activities with my children?” When was the last time you reviewed or modified your reasons for homeschooling your children? I cannot emphasize enough this concept of keeping your eye on the original or modified purpose for homeschooling. If anyone were to ask you: “Why are you homeschooling?”, would you have an immediate and accurate response? It is like asking a husband why he loves his wife. If the response takes longer than two seconds he is in trouble. Can you respond to a person asking you why you are homeschooling within a few seconds? The “why” must be strong enough to withstand any attack against you or your family. Believe me, if you are homeschooling, be prepared to answer to the doubters and nay-sayers. These negative forces can come from your family, friends and complete strangers. Are you ready?
Celebrate The Child You Have:
Do you compare your child to other children, including siblings? Each child is born with certain God-given talents and interests that are unique to them. If you continuously compare one child to another, the consequence inevitably results in disappointment in the child and possibly yourself. Discover and utilize the beauty of each child’s individual gifts. Be prepared to defend and show unconditional support (love) to all your children. If you participate in the comparison game, STOP right now. Refer to your WHY and ask yourself if participating in this game of comparison will help you accomplish the WHY.
This one item can make a total difference in the success of your homeschool endeavor. Do you realize that your teaching style is determined by your learning style? Now, can you imagine how potentially difficult it is for your child to receive your instruction if his learning style is different? If you are witnessing a lack of response to your efforts, please take a serious assessment of both yours and the children’s learning styles. In a nutshell, you must look at learning styles from a different prism than just assuming learning styles are determined solely on modalities (visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic). A complete analysis of learning styles should take into consideration the following:
In this short blog post it is impossible to discuss the total ramifications of the above five elements of learning styles. I encourage you to view my tutorial on learning styles at http://excellenceineducationhomeschooling.com/tutorials/. If you are interested in taking the learning style assessment please go to http://excellenceineducationhomeschooling.com/learning-style-assessment/. The return on a minimal investment in determining the learning styles of the entire family will be far more than you expect. Check it out today.
Are you sacrificing success and enjoyment by staying inside the box? You may ask, what is the box? For terms of our discussion of homeschool success, the box refers to the concept of operating your day much like a “school at home” model. Try to remember why you are homeschooling and more importantly, assess how inefficient the classroom model worked for your child. The box is further defined as staying with a rigid, uncompromising approach that lacks any freedom to take advantage of opportunities that will present themselves on a frequent basis. Are you part of a charter or PSP that demands a strict calendar denying your family the freedom to divert from the protocol to spend time exploring and just having fun as a family? Are you determining the grade your child is in solely on age? Have you purchased an expensive “boxed” curriculum tying your hands academically speaking? Are you enjoying the homeschool lifestyle? Take inventory of the answers of the above questions and ask yourself if you are willing to make some changes in order to reduce frustration and increase success. For more on this please read Carolyn’s essay on this: http://excellenceineducationhomeschooling.com/high-school-out-of-the-box/
Are you taking time to let your child explore beyond the confines of a textbook. The most effective course of study will include a significant amount of time for exploration. In fact, please take into consideration the 40/60 rule dictating that only 40% of the day should be dedicated to formal academics while dedicating 60% to exploration. Now here is the good news, if enough time is committed to any hobby or exploratory activity, you will be able to provide academic credits for those experiences. For example, our daughters spent countless hours participating in the “Glory of Easter” and the “Glory of Christmas” at the Crystal Cathedral when they teens. During this wonderful time, they learned about the production and acting in a play. Every year they participated in the “Glory’s” they received one semester of Theater Arts credits on their transcripts. Do your children have hobbies, volunteer or have small businesses? If so, give them credit when credit is due. Also, do not forget about Field Trips, these represent an opportunity for excellent exposure to a vast variety of experiences and knowledge. One of the consequences of allowing your children explore is the fantastic transcript you will be able to create. Believe me, this goes a long way for students wanting to enroll in college.
The Big “S”
Yes, this is an important consideration. SOCIALIZATION should be a very important component of every homeschooler’s life. If you believe you do not have time for social experiences or feel you must protect your child from experiencing other people on a regular basis the result may not be to your liking. The chances of rebellion or raising a fearful young adult is likely. A useful quote may be of value:
“Insulate, not Isolate”
Appropriate socialization can be achieved in many ways. Be sure to participate in field trips and park days. These are a safe and valuable option that you should involve your family with. The Park Days are not only a benefit to your children, but a greater reward to you due to the interaction with other homeschool parents. Do not dismiss allowing your children to participate in regional sports activities, neighborhood friendships, church activities and volunteering.
Enjoy your homeschool journey realizing the awesome successes that await you and your children at the end of the adventure. Take the time to understand your children and assist them in realizing their dreams and ambitions. Spend the time as a family in non-academic endeavors thus creating a strong family bond that will last a lifetime. Have the faith to realize that you can do this. Have the courage to commit to the journey. Humble yourself allowing you to ask for encouragement and advice from others who support you. Lastly, take time for you and your spouse (hopefully your unconditional team mate).