Homeschoolers greet the beginning of a new school year (or semester) with a gusto that cannot be matched in enthusiasm by any other type of person. It is a new beginning and glistens as brightly as newly unboxed curriculum that arrives at your doorstep. We cannot wait to open the box or start the first day of school. It is only after a couple of months (or weeks for some) when the newness wears off and the enthusiasm wanes. How do you end that cycle (or stop it from starting)? It will be different for everyone, but here are some ideas to help keep the new school year excitement lasting past the first day of school.
Manage Your Expectations
“Manage your expectations” is probably not a phrase you want to hear on a regular basis about your school (or anything else in your life). The first thing you should do is step back for a moment . . . Before you set the expectations, consider the goals you want to achieve. Write a list of everything you would like your children (and you) to accomplish during the school year as well as each semester. Once you have completed your long list, which homeschoolers tend to create as overachievers, read the list. Honestly, what looks achievable over the next 180 days or school year if you homeschool year-round? What looks manageable?
Now, step back in . . . and make a brand new list. Include what you can reasonably achieve during the school year, while also taking into consideration one big factor – life. Along with homeschool, life happens and it will enhance, sidetrack and just plain get in the way of your school year. It is easier to meet your homeschool goals when you lower your expectations (make a shorter list) and do not weigh yourself down with trying to achieve the difficult or impossible. Expect less and you may be motivated to achieve more.
Consider the Student
What are they willing (yes, willing) to do? We would all love to have that “perfect” student. One who wakes up at 5:45 a.m. sharp and never hits the snooze button. They start and finish their school day with the same amount of zest they had when they woke up. Those children are out there in someone’s family, but probably not yours, and that is all right. Each child is different – learns differently, is motivated differently and achieves success differently. Those are probably some of the reasons why you homeschool – to cater to your different.
You know your child’s personality, the subjects in which they excel, those that cause a struggle, and what they can accomplish. School should not be a daily battle. Set specific goals for each of your children and give them the freedom to achieve on their own schedule at their own pace.
Keep Up to Grade Level
There are standards that children should meet at the end of every school year. Being on grade-level pace is important, but can also become a burden. Using the standards as a guide and not a directive will put some ease into your school. Trying to “keep up with the homeschool Jones” (other students’ pace) can railroad you early on in your school year. If you want to see your enthusiasm disappear quickly, start comparing your child’s pace to someone else’s. If you believe your child is falling behind, consider changing your school to a year-round one. You will have 365 days to pace your teaching and your child’s learning, so goals can be met. Another option is the five-year high school plan, which works as a benefit and safety net providing more time and a manageable pace to complete the required work for graduation.
I am going to tell you a little secret. Most students in private and public school settings do not complete the entire course work in every subject from cover to cover of a book. There is just not enough time within the 180 days of required school. Are you breathing a sigh of relief? If not, you should. Many of you are teaching at least four subjects per child. That is a lot of work and if you have multiple grades, that results in a whole lot of school work for everyone. If you are juggling that kind of workload, believe me, it will grow old in just a few months. By all intentions, start the school year with the goal of completing all of the curriculum work. What you should not do is allow the goal of finishing to become your master. Let your child’s comprehension determine how you move through the curriculum you use. Only 10 problems may be necessary to grasp a math concept. Only two essays may need to be written to master a writing style. Only three science experiments may need to be completed and observed to prove an outcome. Choose curriculum that your children will enjoy using to completion and you enjoy teaching.
Reasonable expectations, student consideration and choosing curriculum that helps you meet grade level standards will help maintain the enthusiasm about school. If you ever get to a point in your school year where it feels like a chore or a bore, take a break. Before you return, discuss ways to make the school weeks flow easier. Setting these expectations may help to complete the year on a positive note.
Don’t miss a thing! Subscribe to the HomeLife Academy blog and get our articles in your inbox!
©2019 HomeLife Academy. Article by Jennifer Smeltser. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the publisher /.