A year of Transitions
Since we began homeschooling 9 nears ago (gasp!), I've spent some part of summer break each year doing extra planning for our upcoming school year. Some years, I've spent a huge amount of summer break working on our schooling plans and writing goals for the new school year.
For several summers, I really focused on our history studies. My goal was to make sure that my girls weren't bored while learning history...or at least, do my best in this department! After all, it was my LEAST favorite subject in school when I was growing up. I wanted them to have a much better experience than I did! So, I uber-planned to the "nth" degree, but it was worth it, because we all enjoyed learning with our studies of ancient history, the middle ages, and now, the renaissance and the reformation.
So...how did I spend my time this last summer?
I have to admit it - it wasn't like the summers in the past. I didn't spend countless hours working with our history curriculum and materials, although I probably should have.
I didn't spend much time writing down goals, setting up our recordkeeping, and writing lesson plans, although I probably should have.
What I did do this summer was spend quite a bit of time thinking about transitioning my girls from one level of their education to the next.
Transitioning into middle school
Brittany (age 11) is officially a middle-schooler, or junior-higher, depending on which school district you live in. While she's very capable of doing academic work as a 6th grader, and even beyond that grade level, she's still enjoying being a "kid." At this stage in her life, she'd rather never grow up, because she knows that the amount of free time she has in her life right now is more than she'll probably ever have again. Free time and socializing are very important to her.
I've spent time praying for her to transition to a more mature way of thinking about growing up and entering adulthood. We've spent more time together reading the Bible and talking about "life". I began her history and literature studies on a more in-depth level than what she has done in years past, and my expectations are higher.
We've also lengthened her school day. She's figuring out that it's taking her longer to do her math assignments and some of her other coursework simply because they're more complicated or have higher expectations of her. While she hasn't loved the challenge I've set before her, she's risen to it. For that, I'm thankful.
Transitioning into high school
Kelsi (age 13) has entered her last year of middle school/junior high school. Eleven months from now, I'll begin "coaching" high school. WOW!
My goals for her are different than for her sister. Kelsi, from a very tiny age, has wanted to be an adult. She longs for the day to be "all grown up!" I'm very blessed to share that her maturity and desire to be an adult hasn't taken an evil, negative form. She is very disciplined in her school work, playing the violin, and at every volunteer project she does.
Kelsi has wanted to do most of her schoolwork independently for a couple of years now. While I have no problem with her working on her own, one of the blessings of educating children at home is that I can be involved in her curricula studies, and we can develop conversations about what she is learning. Maintaining a strong parent/child relationship is one of the best reasons I know of to homeschool my children, that will pay off for many years to come.
What does this mean for me, as her parent/teacher?
Well, it means that I select curricula that she can easily do on her own, but I can also easily read through or watch on DVD or online and I can understand it as well.
It means I need to be more organized in developing weekly lesson plans for her, so she can have the freedom to work independently, yet ensure that we still have time to work together and discuss...discuss...discuss!
Another goal I've had for Kelsi is to help her develop a wider group of friends. She loves being around people - as long as she can head back home soon and have quiet time to herself. She's a homebody, just like her parents. :)
How has it been going for us so far?
We continue to use Tapestry of Grace curriculum for our history/literature/church history/writing studies. This curriculum encourages literature studies in the junior high and high school years that eventually lead to much independence; most of the work can be done without the help of a parent. And yet, at the end of the weekly unit, the parent and student sit down for 1-3 hours and work through discussion questions in order to hold a Socratic discussion together.
I also started a new social group for area homeschooled junior highers and high schoolers. For the last 10 years, there has been almost nothing going on for homeschooled students in that age group in our community. We've already had a parent planning meeting and one activity, with plans in the works for future events. We're excited! And I think Kelsi is, too.
Enhancing weaknesses and building on strengths
I think the core part of being a parent, whether or not I choose to homeschool my children, is being able to take an honest look at each of my children and ask myself:
1. What are the underutilized strengths of this child? How can I continue to develop her strengths so that she is working at her potential and is enjoying it?
2. What are my child's weaknesses? Is this just how God created my child to be, or are there some options available to help out my child?
3. Am I too involved in my child's life? (As in, "smothering" my child...)
4. Am I not involved enough in my child's life?
5. And most importantly, how do I see God developing my child for the future? I need to start dreaming with my child about the possibilities in my child using her strengths for God's glory.
Questions like this help me determine each summer the direction our new school year will take. I contemplate, make lists, pray, and contemplate again before making definite plans for our new year. I believe God has blessed the prayer and contemplation times to show me how to best educate my daughters and encourage them to live honorable lives.
Those are my goals for them - for this year. I see this as a year of transition for both of my girls, and I'm excited!
What are the goals you've made for your own children for this school year, whether or not you educate them at home?
Read homeschool-related goal-setting from other families on the TOS Homeschool Crew as we participate in a blog hop about setting goals for our homeschooled families!
10/11/2011 01:36:13 am
10/11/2011 05:47:50 am
I will be transitioning my oldest to high school next year...and I am nervous! great post!
10/12/2011 02:45:02 am
Julie, thank you for coming over for a visit! I think I've subconsciously thought through that list for several years now during the summers, but putting it down in writing made it much more tangible for me, and I'll pay more attention to this in the future!
10/12/2011 02:49:51 am
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Hi! I'm Julieanne!
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