Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Keep a Thankful Heart as You Plan

Are you an idealist?

I can be an idealist when it comes to homeschooling. I have great ideals in Charlotte Mason's philosophy and methods, and I do my best to live up to them. But I fail sometimes. I lose energy, and things I planned don't happen. These things creep on me almost imperceptibly, until I realize suddenly that we haven't done x, y, and z for weeks. This happens especially at the end of a school year, when spring arrives and boys' attention spans shrink.

The result is that as we wrapped up this school year last week, my first thought was to take stock of everything that went wrong and to plan how it will be better next year.

  • SA(7) did only two (of twelve) nature journal entries in the last term. Obviously, that was not well-planned.
  • I did not increase the amount of reading for narration that SA did on his own over the year as I had planned. I was enjoying reading aloud to him, and I didn't consider what was best for him.
  • I feel SA's copywork got a little more sloppy over the year as he gained speed, and I did not deal with it.
  • I didn't go outside enough with my children.
  • I didn't sit down every day with JJ(5) to teach him to read.
  • And on, and on...
I felt like a failure!
(Don't laugh, you older homeschool moms... I'm realizing as I write this that this doesn't sound all that terrible.)

Once I had a little rest, I realized that my feelings did not reflect reality. Yes, there were things that I could have and should have done better, things that I will plan to improve next year. But there are many, many things to give thanks for, too.

I'm writing this list to remind myself, and you.

Don't jump into planning for next year before giving thanks for the blessings of last year.

Look at all of it with a thankful heart, and you will feel so much more ready to go on and do what must be done.

Here's some of my thanksgiving list.
  • We are so rich in books. Not just any books, good, living books. Even better, we don't just have them on the shelf, but we are reading them and getting to know them well through narration. SA has gotten to know the books in Ambleside Online Year 2 this past year. When I asked SA for his favourite, he picked two: Robin Hood and The Wind in the Willows.
  • SA(7) has a twinkle in his eye when it comes to poetry that wasn't there before this year. This year, a dear friend gave us Robert Frost's You Come Too, and it became his favourite. He has always enjoyed our poetry tea time. In kindergarten, he loved it for the snacks that he could form into mathematical equations on his plate. In Year One, he loved it because it was a predictable and steady part of our day. In Year Two, he has found a poet he loves. This makes me so happy!
  • Despite my failure to sit down with him every day, JJ(5) learned to read. He decided he wanted to. I had an Explode the Code book that he worked in independently, and he insisted on sitting down with Alpha Phonics a few times a week for a while. Then I pulled out an easy to read book one week, and another one the next week, and he hasn't looked back.
  • For the first time, MM(3) learned the Bible passage we memorized this term (and is very proud to recite it...).
  • Our math lessons were revitalized in the last term of this year by the addition of inspiring stories of mathematicians, by me sitting down with him to explore new concepts orally a few times a week (using MEP), and by the judicious use of DreamBox for fluency. SA had been losing a bit of his sparkle as he sat down day after day with his Singapore Math. He still does Singapore as his core, but the joy and creativity is back with these additions.
As I begin planning for next year, I don't only need to consider my failures. I also need to remember what we did well, and continue the good work there. Of course I continue to reach for my ideals. I'm not saying my failures are okay or that I don't need to improve. But to be healthy and happy in my homeschooling, I will keep a thankful heart.

How about you? How are you doing as you plan for next year? Do you take time to give thanks?