Happy New Year
A Chance For a Fresh Start
For homeschoolers, January is the halfway mark in the school year. School is well under way and after that holiday break many of us are chugging along the track toward the finish line – the end of our school year.
If you feel like somehow you have fallen off track, as I have in the past, the new year is a great chance to get back on track with a fresh start.
A good long break, if your schedule afforded you one, is a great chance to rest and refresh. I know that I myself have often felt burnout by the time the holidays have rolled around. Since we are not taking the usual winter and spring breaks, we were able to give ourselves the gift of a three week break this December. I can not tell you how much I was looking forward to that break; probably more than my children. I had come to the point where I was frustrated and felt I had lost sight of all the plans I had started out with in late August. By the time we broke for the holidays, I wasn’t too sure about whether I was on track with either of my children. Since I have a 10th grader, it was especially nerve wracking. I felt we had slacked off on our writing, our literature plans and the Spanish program we had started. No one needed a break and a chance to “regroup” more than I.
During the first two of those three weeks I let my mind just stop. Stop thinking about whether we were doing the right math, stop thinking about whether my son’s writing skills were ready for the SATs that loomed in the near future and stop worrying about whether my daughter was really getting the eighth grade science that she had sped through faster than anticipated.
The last week of vacation I took my time and leisurely thumbed through my plan books. I went back to the very first day of school. I looked at my outlines and notes. I wrote down what we had covered and highlighted what we missed. I drew up a new plan for the new year. “In January, we are getting down to some serious work,” I told both of my children. I threw out a couple of things that I felt we needed to cover. If I said them out loud then I would be obligated to follow through.
January is a great time to revisit your school plans and see if you’re still on track. It’s a great time to look at your goals and see what has been accomplished and what is still lingering in the shadows. If there’s a subject that you haven’t yet covered, January still gives you 6 months to get it done. If there are books that you feel you must have to really do a job well, it’s a great time to make a list and hit the bookstore. And just think of the after holidays sales and how much you just might save on them now?
Here are the things that I did to get my school year back on track for the new year:
1. Go back to your original plans for the beginning of the year.
2. Make a list of the books you still haven’t purchased and the books you would like your children to read.
3. Put together lesson plans for study units that you had so wanted to teach and have yet to cover. If you’ve done little writing up to this point, plan a creative writing class. If you have older students they might be able to take a creative writing class online.
4. If your daily schedule just didn’t seem to work, map out a new schedule. If doing math first thing in the day wasn’t working, January is a great time to switch and do something else. How about starting with science or really starting with a twist by beginning with an art lesson?
5. Nix the subjects that your child has been working on that just don’t seem to be working. Of course you can’t forget about the basics like math, science, history and English, but if your child just doesn’t seem to have an interest in a foreign language, and they’ve been dragging their feet, drop it for now and let them pick it up next year.
6. Following number 5, for the subject that your child has dropped let THEM choose a replacement. This is a great chance to see where their interests will lead. And you just might be able to build a whole new exciting study unit around it to boot.
7. Homeschooling is a serious responsibility and sometimes the idea that we are shaping our children’s futures can weigh us down with worry and fear. Yes, it’s serious business but no one will have our children’s interests at heart more than we. So don’t forget to enjoy the new year and all the new opportunities for learning that come with it!
Have a happy and healthy new year…..and keep chugging along that track!