It’s the first day of school around here, both at the eldest’s public school and here at home with my youngest. In years past, with both of them in public, I would be planning a day of indulgent self-care, thinking about my goals for the new year, and reveling in being alone. And probably re-watching last night’s “Downton Abbey.”
But now I a homeschool mom, there is no “alone time” … but I am still excited about the girls going back to school. Both of them. This morning, my sweet eight-year-old Grace and I sat down to talk about how we both thought our first semester EVER of homeschool had gone, and what we’d like to do differently. Here are a few of our thoughts.
What did you like about our first semester?
- I’m glad I’m not at public school where everyone does one lesson one day, and the next lesson the next day. I can go ahead if I want.
- I’m glad I’m not around kids who misbehave … that makes me very uncomfortable.
- I like the extra subjects we do, like Religion and Astronomy.
- I like we do school in our PJs.
- It’s good that we get every-other-Friday off.
- I like the “extra” subjects, too. Especially Latin.
- I like having company at daily mass from time to time.
- I like that Grace is avoiding some of the chronic “stressors” she struggled with in public school … she’s a much more relaxed kid compared to this time last year.
- I like that I’m really getting to know Grace in a whole new way.
What would you like to improve this semester?
- It’s too much of the same every day. Too much routine.
- I have a lot of frustrations doing subjects I don’t like, like spelling and math.
- I want to do more art and more projects.
- I want to do more history and more stories.
- I want to be more patient when Grace is not on task, and truly understand WHY she balks.
- I want to incorporate more fun into our daily work. (I think we are both totally on the same page here.)
What goals do you have for this semester?
- I want to get an A+ on my next math test and on my next spelling test.
- I want to do less busy work, and focus more on mastering concepts (and moving on quickly from concepts already mastered.)
- I want to plan – AND TAKE! – more field trips.
- I want our day to be more about little rewards and acknowledging good behavior than about punishment and shaming bad behavior.
My thoughts on our discussion:
- All in all, this first semester has been very successful. Grace is learning a lot, and LOVES being home. It’s not always smooth sailing, but I am 100% validated in my choice to bring her home for school. Especially as I have come to know her better as a student, and had some pretty huge epiphanies about her. This is the absolute right place for her right now.
- Grace and I are pretty much on the same page regarding curriculum. Although she doesn’t call it “curriculum.” We both like the enrichment subjects, especially sciences. This is good. She loves Religion and Christian studies. Also good. Very good.
- We both work well with structure and achievement-oriented learning. We also both want more “fun” in the day-to-day. This seems like a line to tread carefully. Something I need to think about. One thing that I started after Thanksgiving that seems to have a lot of promise is art journaling. Grace really took to it, and it was great way to get her writing and drawing – and working on those fine-motor-skills – without complaint. Taking “play dough breaks” throughout the morning is something else I am going to try.
- Something Grace and I didn’t discuss, but I feel in my heart, is that I need to take better care of myself. By the end of last semester, I was done. DONE. Short temper, house a wreck, wrung-out and spent. I think there are two major factors. First, I did not spend enough time alone, which I desperately need from time to time to recharge. Introvert, know thyself. Second, it was a difficult time emotionally for me, for reasons that have nothing to do with homeschooling. Many of my loved-ones are going through difficult times, and as a caretaker, that takes a toll on me as well. And that is OK. It’s a blessing, really, to provide support and comfort and care to these amazing people whom I love. But I need to think about my own oxygen mask, too. Breathe.
So it’s not all blank slate here today. Which is a good thing – we don’t need to start over. Mostly just keep doing what we’re doing, while making tiny adjustments here and there. Which is a great way to start the year.