The end of summer traditionally signals a flurry of activity as homeschool parents create school schedules, select curriculum, and plan for their children’s new school year. Although the anticipation of a new school year should be filled with excitement and the thoughts of new beginnings, these times are often filled with stress, concern and questions. Did I select the best materials? Will my child learn everything he is supposed to this year? Am I doing enough?
As a parent and home educator I have been there too – pouring through catalogs, searching the internet and talking with veteran homeschool moms for ideas and inspiration. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I have realized a few key points that I try my best to keep in mind during this time. If you haven’t already figured it out, let me tell you that it’s not just about the curriculum choices you make or the extra activities you sign-up for. It’s much, much more.
By remaining mindful of these three things I hope all homeschool parents will ACE the new school year.
Give each child the time and space to discover and explore his/her natural interests and abilities.
Yes, we must fuel our children’s intellect and teach the 3R’s, but don’t lose focus of the things your child enjoys and does well. Does your child like to draw, care for animals, design & build models, sing, take nature walks to search for plants, play soccer, learn about history, etc. They may be obsessed with something this year and not have any interest the next – that’s fine. Stop and listen to them talk endlessly about the things they are passionate about. Help them find the resources they need so they can explore their interests further and create the things that only they can imagine.
Support and nurture your child as they build strong personal character.
Character is built step-by-step, one day and one interaction at a time. Talk to your children about the values that are important to your family. Model compassion and generosity toward others. Share stories and examples of determination, forgiveness and initiative. “Catch” your child demonstrating a positive behavior and tell them what you appreciate about that action.
You are the expert about your child — trust yourself.
There is no magical timeline or formula for how and when children should learn and develop. You know your child better than anyone — respect your instincts. Be an advocate for your family and your child. Don’t do something because it’s the newest fad or because everyone else says it’s the best option. Do your own homework and make decisions that work for your family.
I wish for you a happy and exciting year of discovery and growth for your family!