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First Quarter Check-In
Rebecca LaSavio

Friday was the last day of Learning Period 2. That means we are halfway through the first semester. Can you believe it? One fourth of the school year is done! You’ve accomplished that much! Does that feel like relief and a big pat on the back? Or does it make you feel panicky that you haven’t done enough? Or worried that your student isn’t progressing quickly enough? Now is a good time to take a deep breath and evaluate. I would encourage you to consider the following aspects of your year so far:

  • Are you where you hoped to be in your curriculum? If not, is that ok?
    • If you are hoping to finish an entire book or curriculum, you should be ¼ of the way through it. If not, you might need to adjust the pace of the work. But--and this is an important ‘but’—you don’t have to finish all the books. You really, really don’t. No public school ever does. If your student is progressing and learning, that’s great! But if it’s not getting done because, well, it’ll happen ‘tomorrow,’ it’s probably time to make tomorrow become today.
  • What else are you doing that isn’t in the books or the planner? Is there other learning going on that you aren’t “counting”?
    • As you evaluate the learning that has happened, don’t forget to include the field trips, nature walks, educational movies, and other learning that is happening without sitting at the table. Are your kids in art classes? Music lessons? This is all part of their education. Have you been watching YouTube videos about the eclipse? They’re learning! Keep some notes about their educational activities to discuss with your teacher. Watching TV is not a substitute for lessons, but it can be a tool for a lesson.
  • How is your child doing, really? Is it time to ask for help?
    • Is your child struggling? Are you both working hard, but the progress that should be seen by now isn’t visible? If so, maybe it’s time to reach out to your HST and evaluate what might be going on. Your HST is there to help problem-solve and come up with creative solutions. And if your child needs more intervention, they can help get that started as well. Our schools have a team of people to help your children—don’t hesitate to reach out.
  • How are your systems and habits? How are attitudes?
    • At the beginning of the year, you probably set up systems and habits for your school and your home. How is that going? Is the laundry piling up? Mine is! My 10-year-old laundry helper and I are trying to figure out the right time of day to focus on this to make sure it gets done. We definitely need to make adjustments to our system. At one point, our kitchen island was always a mess. It created a level of underlying stress that affected our school day. As a family, we made an effort to go to bed with a clean island every night for a month, helping to establish a habit and new expectations. Waking up to the order of a clean space really brings more peace to our day.Are school books getting lost? Are they spread all over the living room and causing chaos? If that chaos is stressful for you, then spend some time re-evaluating your systems. Do you need to have a “put it all back” time in your day? Do you need to buy some plastic boxes to contain all the stuff? Do what it takes so your day is more peaceful and your time is spent learning rather than searching for missing books.Do you and your kids need to have a frank discussion about attitudes and behavior? Please take the time you need to find the root of those issues and establish new habits. As Dr. John Trainer said, “Children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work.” How far your child progresses in math, how many US Presidents they know, or how beautifully they can write a paragraph will never be as important as the child him/herself. Your child’s character and the relationship you have with them will matter their entire life. Education is important, of course! That’s why we are all here. But that all fades in comparison to the core of the actual child. Homeschooling is not easy. Bad days happen—a lot. But those bad days should be building towards good; they should be building “lessons learned” that add up to a healthy child. If the bad days are just bad, if they’ve taken over, please seek help. 

As this first quarter ends, I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to step back and take a good look at your school and the things that affect it. Tweak and adjust as needed and then step into the next phase calmly and ready for the next challenge. I wish your family peace on the beautiful journey of homeschooling.

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