Family & Education

Reflecting on Homeschool: 5 Questions for a Fresh Start in the New Year

BY Barbara Danza TIMEDecember 15, 2020 PRINT

The end of the calendar year beckons us to reflect on all that has passed and the new year to come. For homeschoolers, this occasion to contemplate and review comes at an apropos time.

At this juncture, most homeschooling parents find themselves just catching their breath and taking a well-deserved break; perhaps many are catching some extra breaths during this last month of the year.

As you pause to think about how it’s gone and look toward the new year and a fresh start, here are some helpful questions to guide your reflection.

Why Homeschool?

Start with the most fundamental question. Why are you homeschooling in the first place? Why have you chosen this significant responsibility to take on?

As you answer, you may find that your resolve is stronger than ever or that your answer has evolved over time. Get clear on your reasons and ensure that what you envision for the future aligns with it.

To What End?

What are your goals for the coming year? Perhaps you’re hoping to have your child reading independently by summertime. Or you want to increase the number of nature walks you take each week. Perhaps you hope to help your child memorize multiplication facts. Perhaps you want to spend more time exploring subjects your kiddos are excited about and less time checking boxes. Perhaps you’re putting together a college resume or portfolio with a specific course of study in mind.

Whatever your unique homeschool goals are, write them down and make sure your actions in the new year support them.

What’s Working?

Even if you’re ending the year particularly discouraged, be sure not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Identify the pieces of your homeschool—even the very smallest ones—that are working.

Think about things such as your morning routine, your daily habits, your weekly rhythm, the curriculum you’re using, how much time you’re spending in the great outdoors, what extracurricular activities your children are participating in, etc. Consider the subjects that make up your homeschool and evaluate each one. Consider each individual child and his or her specific skills, talents, and strengths—and how you’re encouraging him or her.

Think of all that is right with your homeschool and continue to enhance those aspects in the new year.

What’s Not Working?

The next obvious question is to identify what’s not working in your homeschool. Perhaps you’ve chosen a curriculum that has everyone frustrated or bored. Perhaps your child is struggling in one particular subject and it needs to be approached from a different angle. Perhaps you’re over-scheduled. Perhaps you need more structure, or maybe less. Perhaps your family isn’t getting enough exercise.

Think carefully about what’s not working and aim to get to the root cause of the problem. If you can identify that, you can come up with a solid remedy.

What Would This Look Like If It Were Easy?

I wrote about this question recently, and it’s one I often pose to myself. It’s helpful to remember that learning comes naturally to humans, that children yearn to learn, and that you need not overcomplicate this homeschooling endeavor.

What would it look like if it were easy? What are you doing to make this more difficult than it needs to be? How can you turn that around? Remove the strain, the frustration, and the notion that it’s only good enough if it’s hard.

What Would This Look Like If It Were Fun?

Not only can this be easy, but it can be fun! I’d wager that you’ve made some effort into making homeschool fun for your kids, but what about you? Are you having fun? What would this look like if it were fun for you? What would your children’s experience be like if you were having fun, too? Perhaps this coming year is the year you find out.

Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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