The new year is always met with excitement, optimism, and lofty goals for months ahead. As we clean up the homemade confetti and take a collective sigh that we made it through the holidays, let’s not panic in the fact that it IS January. Yes, January! This is the month. The typical ‘halfway’ point of the homeschool year. Of course, this may cause some nervousness and second-guessing, and some apprehension at reevaluating all of our life decisions. But instead of that nonsense, I prefer to embrace this time of new beginnings, and create a new jumping off point for the year ahead.
It’s OK, we’re going to get through this together. January is a great time to reassess where we’ve been, think about the year ahead, and really take a look at what the heck we’ve been doing. How is your homeschool year going? How is that curriculum working out that you started with back in September? What have your kids been doing for the past few months?
Before we get to the ‘academic, grade-level’ mumbo jumbo, let’s take an honest look at ourselves and our kids. Seriously. I want you to take a look at your child right now. Not your ideal child, not the kid of your dreams, but the child who has showed up in your life. The child who is loud, challenging, and independent. The messy, creative, unique, wild, and fiercely loving child that is in front of you. Now, ask yourself these two questions.
First, What do they need right now from you as parents? I need you to really think from their perspective on this one. What are their interests and passions? What do they love to do and are they getting time to do those things on a consistent basis? Not what we want them to be doing, but the things they gravitate towards when given the chance. As homeschoolers, there should be plenty of time in our schedules to make their little eyes light up. To make their souls shine. To give them the space to be children and enjoy the wonders of their life. What opportunities can you create to keep sparking that joy? That is where you start.
Second. What has really worked well in your homeschool life over the past few months? What are the things you and your children enjoy doing? What routines or schedules have given your days more of a nice flow? What has not worked well? What goals did you try to achieve that were really just not attainable right now? It’s OK to let things go! Let me say that again. It’s OK to let things go! (Did someone say curriculum?) Now is the time to incorporate more of what was great, and less of what was a ‘chore’. You’ve had time to figure out what is going to work in your homeschool life, and what is not. This can be hard for the fellow super-moms out there that want to do everything and get everything done. The moms with the great curriculum sitting on shelves (raising my hand) who know deep down that it’s just not going to happen right now. Do more of the good things. It’s alright, I promise!
Hopefully you’re still with me. Let’s turn our thoughts to the grade-level guidelines that we all have swirling around in our heads. I will admit that I use the new year to take out my reference books and look at where my child ‘should be’. Again, I know this is all academic noise and my child is exactly where he is meant to be. But, the homeschool mom in me needs to check some boxes.
I always have specific goals set at the beginning of our homeschool year and I use the new year to see what we’ve achieved and what I let slip. I look at all the unexpected things we’ve learned and am usually amazed at where we are. The subjects that my child is really interested in (science, history, geography, STEM, reading) I put on the back burner, and I try to set 2-3 goals for what I think we ‘need’ to accomplish in the next few months (math, writing, and grammar for instance). This is where my focus will be. Of course, my son will be busy with science and STEM on a daily basis because that is his passion and joy for life. So, I’ll be trying to find ways to incorporate math and writing into our weeks, without overwhelming him.
Now, my son is only 8 right now, and I have the luxury of time. Once he is in the middle and high school level grades, then our choices will be more intentional and I assume I’ll have more buy-in from him at that point. Or, maybe he’ll still be building, creating, gaming, and playing with legos. Who knows?
So, take a breath and take a moment. Yes, it’s January and you’ve made it this far. Yes, we’re all going to make some plans, and set some goals. We’re going to love our children the best we can and provide great opportunities to feed their inner beings. We’re going to hold on, and know we are not alone in this crazy lifestyle. Let’s all enjoy the short time we have with our children. However this year unfolds, let’s just enjoy the journey. Cheers! – By Marcia Sirois