I like the idea of starting fresh in January. It’s a clean break between something old and something new. Sunlight is slowly returning. The holiday decorations are gone. And of course it’s a return to school for those who’ve taken Winter break.
It’s also the time people make “resolutions.” I don’t like resolutions. I like to refer to them instead as Positive Life Changes.
Given a new calendar year and restarting school coincide, I’ve decided to make a few Positive School Changes in the way we do things around here.
That’s one great thing about homeschooling: if it ain’t workin’, you can change it. The first part of the school year was a challenge and, after taking off for a few weeks for the holidays, I think I figured out why. It featured me as taskmaster (Must! Accomplish! WORK!) and my kids as reluctant students, so modifications to what everyone is doing are definitely in order. But I know that change can’t happen overnight, so we’re taking baby steps the first few weeks back.
So, for 2013….
Step one: Evaluate current curriculum
This is an on-going process and, when a change is decided upon, the most time-consuming: what’s working, what’s not. We’ve been from Waldorf to a trivium-based curriculum (which was pretty much polar opposite to the Waldorf method). But now I’m thinking we need some middle ground between a creative approach and an academic approach. So, this half of the school year, we’ll be trying out some new stuff. I’m looking into Charlotte Mason’s methods and some alternative resources for language arts. History will be augmented. Again (dropped something this year that I shouldn’t have). Math is working and Science is above par. I’m adding some thinking skills activities, too. But I need to re-frame it all.
Step two: Add in outside classes
This is the easy part, but one I neglected in the Fall. I’ve already enrolled the girls in art classes at the Huntsville Museum of Art Academy. I’m signing them up for Fantasy Playhouse classes. And, I plan on getting them into more classes at Sci-Quest. I think getting them away from home more often is going to be better for them: they get away from me for a while and get to be around other kids for a while (and another teacher!). This was definitely missing from the first half of the school year. I usually add it in the second half anyway to push out the dreariness of Winter, but I think this will have to be a year-round addition.
Step three: Get outside more
It’s easy to get cranky and unfocused if you’re not getting fresh air. And, while I’ve been good about this in the past, the first half of the school year was pretty much spent indoors. As my husband pointed out, there’s really no bad weather in Alabama (unless you count tornadoes), so there’s no excuse not to get out for at least 10 minutes a day. Plus, (if we head seriously into) Charlotte Mason’s methods for education are focused on the whole child – including getting outside and into the natural world every day no matter the weather.
The beauty of home schooling is you can make these kinds of changes. When one thing quits working (or everyone’s burned out) you can move in another direction. It’s kind of like switching teachers each year, I suppose. You need to get a different perspective and outlook occasionally!
It won’t be easy. There will have to be more planning on my part. I might have to start spending more time preparing for the day’s lessons (the resources we’re using now have made me lazy in that department). It’s hard to change, but I’m sure it’ll be refreshing for us all!
So, if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, perhaps you can join me in making a few changes! Please leave your ideas and comments below.