Preparing for a great school year

09/04/2012  |  By Tracy Klicka Director of Development Home School Foundation
HOMESCHOOL OPTIONS

My favorite time of year for me as a homeschooling mom is right before we start up a new school year. I’m excited about spending time learning with my children and teaching them new things. I enjoy picking out new literature we’re going to read together and finding interesting field trips we can take in conjunction with our topics of study. I love the thought of my kids being engaged in their education—wanting to learn, working hard, and being committed to their own discovery. They love reading and this adds to my love of homeschooling.

I have to admit, that the beginning of a new school year is also my least favorite time in our homeschooling. I am aware that I am really a better administrator than teacher. I know that teaching my children math is not going to be easy for me, and grading my kids’ essays is not going to be fun. I don’t look forward to trying to get my kids back on a regular routine after they’ve had the summer months to sleep in, relax more, and enjoy the freedom of greater spontaneity and a laidback schedule; frankly, I don’t look forward to trying to get ME back on a regular timetable either!

What are some things we can do to help make this next school year a GREAT one?

Decide what your priorities are as a family – for my family, I want my kids to learn academics, but I don’t want to stop there. I want them to learn valuable character qualities that are just as, if not more important than their formal book learning. We have a lot of smart people out there in society; we need more people who are honest, diligent, unselfish, free from the love of money, ready and willing to help others in need, and gracious in their relationships. All of this begins at home.

We give our time to what we value – What is most important to you, your family values, will be reflected in how you choose your activities and how you spend your time during your homeschooling year because we always give our time and greatest attention to that which is most important to us. If you want your children to have more than just an academic education, make sure that you include activities and spend time together that will support passing on your family values. Among other things, we spend time each week together reading through a section of the Bible and other books that help prepare my children for life after school.

Remember that true education really is more than academics – Homeschooling is an ideal setting to work together on your priorities. Those ‘eternal’ values—like learning to live in community, caring for others, being committed to relating with honesty and sincerity in all relationships, working with diligence and integrity—these qualities carry a lasting value and can be instilled in your children long before they ever leave home and make their way in the world. This is one of the beauties of homeschooling.

You are your children’s parent(s) — No matter how much time you spend teaching your children each day, your role as a mom or dad will always be more important than the role of teacher. Because you are the only parent(s) your children have, you’ll want to leave room in your schooling for talking and listening to your children about their lives, their motivations, where they are discouraged or need your help and guidance. As you do this, you will not only be a great parent, but your homeschooling will go better—guaranteed!

Be honest about your school year — No matter how much you plan or get organized, you are going to have bumps along the way. You very well may have to switch to a curriculum that works better for your child than what you started with. You might need to invest more time in a particular subject that you had originally anticipated (for us, that usually math or writing). Knowing this ahead of time will make for less stress and greater flexibility for everyone.

Don’t forget to have fun! — As a homeschooling mom, it’s easy for me to focus on the chores, the science and math and English, the meal preparation and clean up, the laundry...we could go 24/7 and never finish all that ‘needs’ to be done in a day! Remember, though, that you are on a journey with your children and there are joyful adventures waiting to be taken together — observing God’s creation on nature walks, exploring history and art, listening to beautiful music, plus playing games and even just being silly and laughing together. It’s all part of the wonderful gift of homeschooling your children.

Here’s hoping you experience a great journey with your children this next year!

Tracy Klicka is Director of Development for the Home School Foundation. She is also the mother of seven homeschooled children and the widow of Christopher Klicka, who before his passing in 2009, served as Senior Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association of which the Home School Foundation is the charitable arm. To learn more about the work of the Home School Foundation, visit us at: www.homeschoolfoundation.org.
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