At the end of each official homeschool season (beginning of May-ish), I do a homeschool assessment.
My eyes are always opened about my kids’ learning styles, our use of past curriculum, about my needs, and how I need to engage my kids differently.
What I learned about my kids.
One of my kiddos needed more social interaction.
When I combined a spelling program with her sister and played some kinesthetic games together, she was more content and attentive. When I gave her a chance to demonstrate her chemistry experiments with her younger brother? She was even happier. Sitting together during quiet afternoon tea reading and discussing our American history books together was another way to engage her social needs.
One of my kiddos wanted tests and grades.
(How did this child come from me? I don’t need to grade my kids. I don’t feel the need to test them, because I know where they’re at and I can see what they understand. But she wanted tests. When she takes them, she always aces them. She wants to know if she could perform in a college conventional classroom. The fact that she is thinking this at twelve, I tell her, along with the combination of strong work ethic and natural aptitudes, means she’ll do more than survive.
One of my kiddos enjoyed solitude and independence and doesn’t want my input, thank you very much.
And though she is an adolescent, she has always been like this. I will line up my expectations early in the year, review her work weekly, not daily, definitely not hourly like the others, and let her roll.
What are the sources of conflict with my kids and how have I addressed it?
Attitudes. Bickering. Complaining. How do I handle it?
- Asking questions about their emotional state: “So you’re feeling…” and I fill in the blank until they can respond with the accurate representation of what they are.
- I endeavor to collect before I direct as Gordon Neufeld wisely asserts: to gather their hearts and their minds, before I react and dish out random consequences, without understanding the context and their needs.
If you wonder if this is a lot of work, or if my little cherubs are naturally cherubic — yeah, you already know the answer to that. Indeed, it requires plenty of effort. However, the more effort I put into the unpacking of their emotional states, I enable them to identify their own feelings, get curious about their feelings, and help them to understand themselves, so they can learn to emotionally regulate: the long-term goal.
What have I learned about myself this past year?
Over the last seven years of homeschooling, I’ve learned that I like control.
I’m pretty sure everyone likes control. Feeling out of control isn’t something anyone wants.
I’ve chosen to take the role of organizer and director of my children’s education. And I have learned that I take myself too seriously at times.
If I’m not enjoying the homeschool process then what do I need to do differently?
Relax. Loosen up. Let it go. A mantra I like to say, but find harder to do.TeresaWiedrick, author of Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
What is a new favourite book or curriculum I’ve used this past year?
Sonlight for American History…but we use it off-schedule, so we will stretch it to two years, instead of one. Nothing beats Sarita’s collections of read-alouds.
All About Spelling. This program makes spelling enjoyable. Well, as enjoyable as spelling can get without playing Scrabble or Bananagrams. A collective spelling lesson, using laminated magnetic tiles, and kinesthetic spelling games, change the pace of our morning and incorporates a social lesson.
What do you do for you — or do outside of your kids that is just you?
I blog, read about writing, write fiction, read about fiction writing, read English poets, classical authors, and conventional authors. I think of myself as unschooling a master of Fine Arts. I read and write a lot. With coffee. Sometimes at coffee shops.
Call me fun, call me boring, but call me loudly, because I may be lost in another world, one I’ve written or someone else has written.