One of the most beautiful things about learning at home, is the ability to end the day with something fun. Yesterday evening the girls and I took a walk after dinner. We used Wednesday an “as ease-into-it day”; which means we only did math and reading.
During the walk we talked about uniforms, spelling curriculum, science curriculum and goals for the year. (Another great thing about learning at home is that my children have a say in what books they use and what they study.)
One of Maeve’s goals is to read the dictionary. She’s a girl after my own heart. I poured over my family’s collection of Funk and Wagnall’s when I young. They had lovely brown leather covers with gold writing, thin pages full of stuff to know.
One of Hilde’s goals is to write a biography about Maeve. So, she spends a lot of time taking notes and saying, “I have to write that down before I forget it.” Also, just like me. I have pages full of ideas for this blog, books and articles that over the years I have half written in my mind. One day I’ll get to those.
All this goal setting got me to ponder what my goals are for home schooling this year. I have goals set out for each girl. The things that I would like them to accomplish, but I hadn’t thought of what my goals for me would be. This is a big deal because this year, I have space to do this. I recently stepped down from my part time job in order to focus completely on my household. Home school is the biggest commitment I have and now that I have time, I really want to be intentional about what I am learning from this experience as well, as what Maeve and Hilde are learning.
So, here they are:
1. Finish the year. It is always good to start with an easy one. This may seem like no-brainer to most people. However, in our house we have a tendency to let the year fade away, instead of really finishing. This year, I want to start well and end well. I want to get to June and say “We finished! Let’s hit the beach!”
2. I want to go slow. I am not interested in covering vast amounts of information in a short amount of time. Now that I am at home full time, we have time to go in depth with any area of study. If we want to spend 5 weeks talking about rocks, we can. If the girls want to learn how to make bandages like they did during the civil war, we can. If they want to then spend some time learning about how medicine advanced during the war, we can do that too.
3. I want to spend more time encouraging and less time correcting. Now that mornings are reserved for school, my brain is reserved for school too. When I am stressed by the long to-do list waiting each afternoon, I tend to rush my kids. Rushing then translates into being frustrated and correcting harshly. This year I want to allow my girls time to make mistakes and to be able to finish a lesson without their mother being aggravated because it. Gentleness and kindness will rule this year.
4. I want to remember the power of shared lessons. Sometimes, I want Maeve and Hilde to just go and do their work all alone, by themselves. Then I remember the power of a shared lesson. Yesterday, I wanted to review our American History so far. So, I created a list of events that we have studied and put them on the white board out of order. Then we sat together and Maeve and Hilde put them in order. They loved it. They kept saying things like, “I remember the Aztecs!” “Oh, I love Lewis and Clark!” “Remember when we went to the Alamo?” They had so much fun working together. More importantly they had fun remembering together all the things we have studied. Shared memories are the best memories and I am glad I get to be a part of my girls’ school memories.
5. I want to remember that love what I do. I love teaching my girls at home. I am privileged to see them learn new things, to conquer math skills, to add new words to their vocabulary and make 3D models of the earth. Most parents hear about these things anecdotally. I get to be there, first hand. When the light of a discovery or the click of connection happens, I am there and it is awesome.
6. I want the girls to know I love what I do. I want Maeve and Hilde to know that there is no place I would rather be. In the past I think I have failed here. I like to do a lot of stuff and my attention is easily diverted to other things. This year, I want them know I am choosing them and that I want to be home with them more than any place else.
7. I want to learn percentages. This also sounds like a no brainer but I never really learned how to do percentages correctly. You see, I skipped 5th grade. I started 5th grade, went for 9 weeks, then did 3 weeks of both 5th and 6th grade, then transitioned to all 6th grade. This was great, I don’t regret it, but it means I missed some math. You see by the time I got fully integrated into 6th grade, they had finished their review and moved onto new math. I didn’t stay in 5th grade long enough to get anything new. So I have holes in my math. I think I have compensated well, but it would be nice to fill those in. Luckily, Maeve is just finishing up 5th grade and I sneaked a look at the next couple of lesson. They include percentages. I am sure she will share with me.
8. I want to go more places. We are studying the Civil War through modern times this year. I am convinced the best way to teach history (and science) is to be where it happened. This means carving time for field trips, loading up the car and hitting the road. It means not rushing but taking time at each site to really experience it. The biggest trip planned so far is to Gettysburg next month. Gettysburg is so full of history that you can feel its importance when you drive through the town. I want to soak in things like this with my girls.
9. I want to be home more. This seems counter to the last goal, but I mean be home in a more simple way. I want to go out only when I need to. It means bundling my errands so that I have out of the house days and at home days. So that I am not always getting into the car every afternoon and running errands. It means cooking whatever is in the pantry instead of going out to dinner. It means enjoying our home and seeing the beauty inside of it; instead of always going somewhere for entertainment. It also means no longer avoiding chores by going somewhere, which may bring some much needed order and cutter-cleansing to the house.
10. I want to be fully present. I don’t want to miss a thing. Maeve is in 6th grade. I have 7 more years until she leaves for college. Hilde leaves in 9. Time goes too fast. They were potty training yesterday. I don’t want to wake up and have them gone. I want to fill this year with memories I will hold onto in the nursing home. I want to build the stories that Maeve and Hilde will tell their children. I want to see all the little miracles that happen every day and connect all the dots. I want to live in grateful expectation and go to bed knowing that I was fully present to the beautiful life all around me.
11. I want to be more intentional about our faith. Our faith is the glue that holds our family together. It is the glue that holds me together, daily, sometimes hourly. Up until now faith has been more caught than taught in house. I want to change that. I want to read our Bibles together. I want to pray together. I want Maeve and Hilde to ask any question and we'll figure out the answer together. I want my girls to sing "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." and know what it means and mean it when they say it. Maeve would be starting Confirmation if we were in a traditional church. It makes me miss traditional church. I think it's time we solidify all the things we talk about around the girls by talking about them with the girls.
Maeve and Hilde both got new Bibles this year and they excited to read them. I want that to last past this year.
This is a long list. I will have to post it on the refrigerator so I don't forget it. Everything important in our house is on the fridge. Next to grocery list and under the meal plan for the week, will be this reminder to open my eyes and see that life if bigger than groceries.