the homeschool advice I would give myself

The homeschool year is winding down, slipping away from us even though I keep dragging it back by the tail and telling it that we have a month left together. Then it laughs and gives me a look that says, "That's what you think" and I wonder if we'll make it.

But we're trying. 

I've been reflecting on this homeschool life, this crazy venture to edumacate the kids in our kitchen instead of a pretty brick building with playgrounds and cafeteria tables. 

I think it's going well...sometimes.  

I'm confident that it will work out...most days. 

I feel up to the task...often.

In light of reviewing this year and strategizing with the kids of how to finish out the year strong, I thought of two things. 

Here are two things I wish I could have told myself at the beginning of our homeschool journey. And since I can't tell three-years-ago-Becky, I'll tell you instead.

It's not how you start; it's how you re-start. 

My tendency is to hype up that first week of school, to have plans and books and pencils sharpened and all things at the ready. But you know what makes the big difference in the long haul? It's not how the first day goes, it's what you do with the second day when the first day didn't meet expectations. 

It's the getting back into it when the morning is slipping away. It's the coming back from Christmas break with gusto instead of groans. It's not putting off until tomorrow what you can learn today. 

Your homeschool success will be much more shaped by the your hopeful perseverance than all your detailed planning. Plans? Good thing. Perseverance? Even better. 

Isn't that the way of it with everything, really? The work-out plan and the diet, the Bible reading goals and the spiritual disciplines, the manuscript or the abandoned painting- they all depend on your ability to come back to them and re-start. 

Not perfection- persistence. Which is a relief, because failure isn't the end- it's just a chance to begin again. 

The other thing I would tell myself at the beginning is...

Concentrate on habits, not curriculum. 

I never thought I would say this, but here it is: I do not think it really matters what kindergarten curriculum you pick for your kids. Abeka, Sonlight, My Father's World, Core Knowledge, Classical Conversations, No Curriculum at all...whatever. It doesn't really matter. Why?

Because those first years of school are about forming habits. 

I would rather have a third grader with some good habits and little formal schooling than a third grader with terrible habits and three years of workbooks behind them.

How you do school matters. 

What are some of the habits I would form? (I know these sound so basic it's insane, but trust me here.)

  • Coming to our school time promptly when called, with no complaining, ready for the school morning. 
  • Accepting school work without complaining or whining
  • Correct letter formation- though tedious, this actually will help your child write efficiently later on
  • Working independently for short periods of time
  • Following instructions
  • Basic routine for the school day, including the child ASKING to be dismissed from school. (Maybe like, "May I please be finished with school for today?" and then followed up with a "Thank you". Just a thought.) 

The good news is- I get to re-start on my girls. What I learned from my first few years can be put to work on them. 

And even my boys are young and they can still be shaped- it's just more work to sculpt clay that has hardened a bit. Not impossible- but more work. 

So there you have it. Just a quick glance back at three years of trial and error. We are buckling down for five more weeks to finish strong and then we will revel in a summer of books and sprinkler splashing and life in the backyard.

Here's to finishing strong and re-starting well and all the learning that takes place along the way. 

See ya Friday. 


Christy said...

Tim just forwarded your post to me (apparently he thought I needed to read it? Or would enjoy it?) and if that was his rationale, he was right on both counts. ;) I haven't been reading blogs for some time now (just ran out of time in the day) but yours is one I miss most. Thanks for sharing these words, I needed to hear them!! And, coincidentally, we "re-started" some school today. Had a hard time getting back on the bandwagon after Spring Break, and then we added a few kids to the family so things have been crazy!

Becky said...

Oh, grace to you Christy as you homeschool in the middle of that adventure. Know that your kids are learning so many good things, with or without books, and that it's OK for school to fall by the wayside when life is so full. But that said, congratulations on your 're-start' and I hope you can find a bit of a new rhythm with the changing household.

Keri said...

Well said Becky, thanks for the encouragement. Very helpful on many fronts!

Katie T. said...

I so appreciate these words of wisdom, Becky. It is looking more and more like we will be venturing into the world of homeschooling next year and so easy to already miss the forest for the trees. I will tuck this advice away as I plan and come back to it!