The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The beach is calling, but there is one week left of school. In Florida, summer comes early. But, like homeschooling families everywhere, we stay the course until that delightful time when we close the books and put down the pencils. Like you, I want to finish every year well!
As the Year Winds Down
If you are still schooling, take advantage of the weather. If the weather is beautiful, school can move outside! Stay positive and administer lots of compliments to the kids as you wind down the year. An atmosphere of encouragement lightens the load.
Celebrate a job well-done. This year our co-op is celebrating at a state park with a campout as a festive end to the school year. This gives us something to look forward to as we finish the last assignments and write the final papers. You might schedule a family vacation or a day trip to the beach or a lake.
The end of the year is a great time to go through all those piles of papers and textbooks. What should you keep? What should you throw away? What can you lend to a friend? What can you sell or give away? File the years’ completed work away in permanent storage. Take pictures of those adorable projects and toss them. I always keep good books, adding to my library year after year.
The end of the year is a great time to organize the homeschool room, too. Last summer I moved all the furniture around and reorganized the bookshelves to make things easier to find.
As we wind down another school year, it’s time to evaluate. What went well? What challenges did we survive but don’t want to repeat again? If I skip this step, I am doomed to repeat mistakes or use curriculum again that just doesn’t work. I do a personal evaluation of each of my children at the end of the year that no one else sees. I look at each subject and their character. I can focus on improving trouble spots, cultivating strengths, and filling in gaps in the coming year that were missed.
Ask your children what they like best and least about the past year. What was the most challenging? What was the hardest thing they love? What surprised them? How do they want to grow spiritually and academically?
After a long week of creating the earth, heavens, and all that was in them, God rested. He set a pattern for us: work, rest, work, rest. After a long year of studying, grading, and teaching, I am ready to rest. Your children need refreshing, too. What re-energizes your family? We love to laugh together, play games, walk on the beach, and sit around and talk. Music is special to each one of us and we enjoy singing together. What about your family?
Often we are forced into making decisions about the coming school year while we are still in the heat of our studies. We can make rushed decisions because there are deadlines to meet or a great sale on curriculum we like. Take time to relax and seek God’s heart. Think about your dreams for your children and what you want to impart to them over the next two years. Notice I didn’t mention curriculum. What are your children’s educational, spiritual, and emotional needs?
Before the beginning of every school year, I start to plan by dreaming big—the sky’s the limit—and work my way to the practical. Sometimes God does amazing things to let homeschooling dreams come true! One year I wrote down that I wanted my family to play sports together for fun. I couldn’t figure out how to do that without joining an expensive sports league. But, a family friend started Sunday Sports on Sunday afternoons, when the children and adults from our church played soccer and football for four hours each time. Another year I wanted to study geography by traveling around the world (not possible for financial reasons!). That dream led to a fun year of “traveling” in our homeschool co-op.
Why don’t you try it too? Offer simple prayer to God for wisdom, creativity, and vision! Jot down everything you can think of that would be awesome to do in the coming year. Write down books you’d love for your children to read and other books you’d love to read aloud together. Think of adventures that you’d enjoy with your family. Tuck the list in your Bible and pray over it every day. As you finish this year joyfully and successfully, a brand new one is waiting just around the corner.
If you are thinking about homeschooling high school down the road, or are part of that great adventure now, please join us at Finish Well on July 10-11 in Central Florida. We have an exciting conference lined up this year! Our whole focus this year is to be the family God has called us to be. While we are all so different, His principles work! Whether it is getting out of debt, working through conflict without yelling, or teaching your children about sex, our families can grow stronger. As always, we offer many sessions to help you homeschool high school. Our speakers live what they teach, our vendors are eager to serve you, and our Finish Well team is working hard to pull off an event that will refresh and equip you!
Travel the World in the Kitchen: Ancient History Cookbook is a collection of recipes that correspond to epochs beginning with Creation all the way to the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. With living book lists, teaching material lists, and menu ideas, you can add some delicious fun to your study of world history. You can download it here: http://www.finishwellcon.com/finish-well-conference-free-ebook/
Meredith Curtis, pastor’s wife and mother of five amazing children and one adorable grandson, has been homeschooling since 1991. She is the co-founder of Finish Well, a conference for families enjoying the homeschooling high school adventure. Her passion is to be a world changer and raise world changers for the glory of Jesus Christ!