For many, the school year is starting to wind down to a close. We are looking at how many lessons are left, subjects that are done, and certainly moving our eyes on to what we will study next year. How do you know when enough is enough and it is just time to call it a year?
- Success is not always about the grade point average. The score on the top of your child’s paper does not always tell the whole picture. What about their effort regardless of the grade? How about attitude? What about rising above learning challenges? There are some subjects that are just harder than others for a given child and the number on the paper does not reveal their individual level of achievement. One year our reading goal for one of our children was to realize their success in reading an entire chapter book independently and to just fall in love with reading after years of battling reading challenges.
- It is not always about the academics. As homeschool families, it is easy to turn everything into school and before we know it we are starting to measure our child’s worth by their academic achievement. Don’t forget the other achievements and successes during the past year. Maybe it is in the form of a sports trophy, community service hours achieved, reaching a personal goal such as getting a driver’s license or becoming a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maybe this wasn’t the best year academically, but the growth and maturing of your children in how they respect each other and take personal responsibility for chores is remarkable.
- Celebrate the Academic Successes too. Different families celebrate in different ways. As our family has grown, we find our celebrations changing too. Some years it is a trip out for ice cream. Other years it may be a cookout with friends. Each year there is a celebration and each year there are the official words from Dad of the promotion to the next grade. This is so important in really bringing closure to our year. Taking a break or at least a much more relaxed learning schedule brings needed rest physically, emotionally, and psychologically before beginning a new full school year.
- Life sometimes gets in the way. Life is life. Maybe this year was a year of developing compassion and a sense of servanthood as your family cared for an elderly grandparent with Alzheimers or mom was on bedrest with a difficult pregnancy. Acknowledge that life was not typical and rejoice in character development as well as the academic achievements made even if you didn’t get to the end of your curriculum.
- Stop making it all about school. Mom, once you get bit by the homeschool bug, it is so easy to start turning everything into school. Our children need a psychological break as much as we do, but sometimes we just keep talking about the curriculum for next year, academic goals, and rushing ahead even to high school graduation. Take the summer off, Mom. Let these months be a time of allowing your child to really explore and learn through their interests and delights. Allow them to grow through wonderful relationship building with time spent with friends exploring the creek at the end of your property or developing a new hobby. They will still be learning, but they just don’t need to know they are. Let them decompress and just have fun.
Trust me that as I type these words I reminding myself of the importance of each of these things. Rather than working on curriculum selections or lesson plans, I think I am going to spend time making lists with the kids on places they would like to visit this summer, things they would like to do for fun, and friends they would like to get to know better. We will go to the library just for fun to travel to places and times that intrigue us. And yes, our kiddos don’t seem to stop growing up, so we will certainly be spending time on driving lessons and other life skills that come with having three teens in the house. Most of all, I am hoping that we look back at the end of the summer saying, “This summer we have laughed more than we have in years.”
Mom and Dad, decide if finishing the entire book is really the mountain you want to die on. Sometimes it is important to finish the whole curriculum to develop self-discipline or to really cover the content that you feel is important. However, there are those times that everyone just needs a break and not much learning is really going on anyway. You know – those days when we are filling in the worksheets just to get to the end of the book and be able to say we are done. Really evaluate if learning is going on, if relationships are being compromised just to get to the end, and then decide if it is time to wrap up the school year.
Call it a year and celebrate all of the successes whether they involved a grade on the top of a paper or not! And have a great summer.