Tomorrow we start our new school year, and I am more excited about it than I have been in recent memory.
In fact, I am so excited about it that my girls are mega-excited about it. Perhaps the boys are as well, but they don’t show it. I think “willing and focused” are better, more descriptive terms for the high school guys than “excited,” and I’ll take that.
I am ready *early* this year which is a big motivating factor in my life. Because I “just said no” to any speaking engagements the past two months, I have had time to think and to prepare. Now, I haven’t done a whole lot of thinking and preparing; I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. What would the wrong impression be? It would be you thinking that I am ultra-organized on paper with the entire year planned out by day one. Um, no. I am organized enough to know that we are good to go for the first nine weeks.
You see, I actually have all of the kids’ Homeschool Student Planners ready for them, along with a surprise tucked inside. Usually they get their planners a few weeks after school has started because we are always backordered on them due to this being our busy season. Remember the Shoemaker whose kids had no shoes? This time I made it a priority to set theirs aside for them.
In the front of the planners, there is a space to put a photo of the student at the beginning of the year, and a space to put one at the end of the year. Kind of a track progress visually kind of thing. I actually put photos in all of their planners! It was fun, and tomorrow when I hand them out, I know there will be smiles all around. Silly little thing perhaps, but I am glad I made the effort to spice it up a little this time. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know?
What is it about a fresh start that can be so motivating? I am personally excited because I know where I want to go this year. I have a goal in mind that is very attainable, and I look forward to watching the children grow day by day as they inch closer and closer to their own goals that they will be setting for themselves for the next nine weeks.
What is my goal? Getting back to the basics. Simplifying. Being home more. Engaging more with my younger students. Spending more time talking with my older kids just because I want to know them better.
The oldest two leave for college within the next two to three weeks, and while I will most certainly miss them painfully, there will be a certain quiet in the house that will be conducive to learning. The busy schedules of high school seniors gets old after a while. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about: you see the backs of their heads as they are sleeping in bed or the backs of their heads as they are going out the door for their next activity. Yes, peace will come back soon.
There is something intriguing and alluring about new notebooks, new pencils and pens, new crayons, and new subjects to study, isn’t there?
Yeah, my house is still kind of messy, I didn’t get the closets cleaned out this summer that I was hoping to organize, and laundry is still overflowing the clothes baskets, but we are starting a new school year tomorrow! If I waited for everything to be perfect, well no need even finishing that sentence.
Tomorrow I plan to spend the day taking time with each child individually, seeing what we are doing this year, and looking ahead just to the next nine weeks. What do we want to accomplish by then? The older kids will make this decision pretty much independently since they’ve been at this for a while, although they seem to appreciate me being there physically beside them while they are setting goals. I like it, too.
The younger kids will get some suggestions from me, but I am sure they will nod their heads in agreement as we decide where we are going together. Together. That is what the first day of school is all about around here. I love it!
Don’t worry if you are fixin’ to begin a new school year but you don’t have all of your materials and supplies stacked up and ready to go. You don’t have to have it all together to homeschool. Decide as you go what is needed; sometimes you will change gears in the first week for one reason or another. Be flexible. Be adventurous. Be goofy. Be yourself.
I do recommend that you spend time with each of your children imparting vision for the next small portion of the journey upon beginning your homeschool year. They need to SEE where they are headed. I will shamelessly plug our Homeschool Student Planners here because I feel they are simply the best thing out there for homeschooling aside from your actual curriculum.
You don’t absolutely have to have our specific type of planner! What you do need is a place where your older kids can plan ahead as well as record what they have done each day of the school year. Younger children need to see what is coming up, and what they are expected to do. Crossing “done work” off the day’s work schedule is exhilarating for them! A notebook will work, but each child needs his/her own.
Don’t get rolling without at least a brief outline of where you are rolling to.
If you have already begun, take a day and let your kids see where they are headed for just the next few weeks. This is so crucial to motivating your students.
If kids see school as one long, unending road, they are likely to feel helpless and on a treadmill. However, show them the next plateau they are reaching for one day at a time – have them challenge themselves – and their whole attitude will change. I promise!
Here’s to a great 2008 – 2009 for you and your family!