My 5 Goals for the Start of the School Year
Remember when I mentioned that a perk of homeschooling was the flexibility? The ability to adjust when kids fall behind or when life happens and classes have to be put on hold to deal with the crisis at hand? We were able to experience this lovely phenomenon on DAY ONE this year. All of my beautiful plans to start school on Tuesday were put on hold when my family needed to put its focus elsewhere. After a small amount of panicking, I reminded myself that it was OK. We could pick up a day late, or even two days late if need be, and all would be well. And I kept reminding myself of this truth many, many times.
With that humbling lesson fresh in my mind, here are my goals for the start of this year:
1. Be flexible. There are going to be hiccups like we had this week and times when one of the kids isn’t getting anything from an assignment except frustration, and I need to try to spin the situation so it works for everyone.
2. Be attentive to their needs. Some of my kids work better with silence, and some need background noise. My girls like working for long periods of time to get everything done, while my boys zone out after about 20 minutes without any breaks. I am not going to always be able to accommodate everyone, but the most important thing is that I am willing.
3. Be patient. Some of my kids ask lots and lots of questions, not because they don’t know the answer but because they need the check-in with me that asking a question provides. Their anxiety spikes because this is all so new, and without the wherewithal to understand what’s going on inside them, they simply pellet me with repetitive questions until I catch on and spend some one-on-one time with them doing something silly to calm them down.
4. Don’t take it so seriously. There is a time and a place for everything, and school can’t always be serious. Our days need interventions of playfulness, color, engaging imagination, and fun. If learning is unattractive, it’s useless.
5. Practice Self Care. Really, this needs to be number one. If I’m running on empty come 8 a.m. because I haven’t spent time with God, eaten, or slept well and I’m overwhelmed with stress, I will be impatient, irritated, and reactive. I’m guilty of this more times than I’m comfortable with, and I always regret “pushing thorough.” On the days I foresee it going badly as they start peppering me with questions and bickering about someone’s speaker being too loud, I try to take a break. We utilize the many educational documentaries on Netflix or some sensory play. We scrap the lesson plan and bake something, or we grab a book and have a reading party somewhere cozy and quiet. The same goes for the kids. If they’ve been up all night because of nightmares or woke up panicky and irritable, I don’t push it. I try to give them the same care I need for myself in those times, and it usually smoothens the rough edges.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” May we, as teachers, find ways this year to involve our beautiful children as they learn the magnificent intricacies of God’s great big world.