Traveling in “the old days,” we periodically had to stop, get out of the car and sprawl that mammoth paper map on the hood. We’d talk about where we’d been, analyze, get our bearings and then head down the readjusted path. Nowadays, the GPS recalculates and you can barely take a breath before you’re headed down the next path.
Are you driving full force into your school year?
Don’t take the GPS approach! Hit the brakes, stop “at the side of the road” and look back! Why look back when you want to move forward? Well, how do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?
Before (and also during) every academic year, invest in a Teacher Reboot Retreat (TRR). I’m not talking manicures and facials (although if you can work it out, there’s benefit to those too!). I’m not even talking a weekend at a resort (sigh!). The goal of a TRR is to objectively sift through and examine your recent school year, find the areas that shine brightly and those that need polishing, and use both to equip for the future. Taking even just a couple hours to get perspective and rest is valuable and necessary. Perspective allows you to step away and examine your educational route from different viewpoints. Rest your mind. Your mind needs time to cease from its normal routine and focus without interruptions to truly see your home education afresh. You’ll be surprised how personally restorative just a few hours of focused pondering can be!
TRR Set Up
At minimum, plan to spend a couple of hours alone. As a rule of thumb, try to allow at least 1 hour per each child and 1 hour for yourself. Yes, that time investment may be hard to find—but it can result in multiple, far reaching benefits. You can choose to go to a location with no interruptions (my choice) or arrange for the family to leave and have the house to yourself. If you choose the latter, resist the temptation to complete a project or clean! The goal is to spend time reflecting on your school year. You are the best judge on how you can accomplish that.
And while you’re scheduling, plan a time with your spouse to share what you’ve processed and learned. Remember that homeschooling is a family effort. Ask your spouse for input. It’s important to be “on the same page” and your spouse can help with feedback, insight and formulating goals.
The Spiritual Component
Start with your heart and work out. Spend time praying, asking for guidance and direction. As author Jean Fleming says, “God calls us to live not by what we perceive but by what He reveals.” God knows your children best and how to best meet their needs. Then, ask God to reveal each child’s greatest educational needs, their learning styles, how next to prepare them for their life purpose, etc.
As homeschool consultants, we ask a lot of questions to help guide parents to what’s best for their specific home school. We pooled a few general questions that can apply to the many elements of your home school: your family as a unit, each individual and each student’s academic subjects as well. With each question, make sure you also ask (if not initially, very soon), “How can I use these answers to positively affect our school?”
- What does success look like? Vital Question #1! A specific response helps you determine your end-goals—your destination.
- What heart issues need to be addressed? Vital Question #2! Attitude and character can greatly affect learning.
- What are the bright spots from your last academic year? Just celebrate this one! Encourage your family to celebrate too!
- What hindrances to learning occurred in the last academic year? How can you minimize these this year?
- What interruptions to learning occurred last year? If there were valid reasons (such as a serious life event), what positive learning outcomes occurred (i.e. learning to care for elderly, developing compassion, etc.)?
- How did outside activities enhance or deter from your goals?
- Which curriculum has been beneficial for your student and why?
- Which curriculum has not been beneficial? Is it actually the curriculum or other factors? Is it tweak able?
- Now that you’ve answered several questions (and you may think of more), what tangible goals are valuable and necessary this year for each child in each subject and in general?
Record your answers in ways that work for you and reference these periodically. Use them as guidelines to help you navigate and refine your home school journey. Remember, above all, homeschooling is an amazing journey. Savor the preparation, the travel and all the adventures that occur along the way. Bon voyage!