Spring is in full bloom; April is quickly becoming history and May is soon to be upon us. Many Foundations programs are complete and for Challenge students the end is near. But…
As we breathe a well-earned sigh of relief, we must face the facts—the glorious facts—that the end of the academic year is not the end of our journey as home educators. I would venture to guess that ninety-nine percent of us have children who will be enrolled in Classical Conversations next fall, so the end of this semester means that we can begin our preparations for next semester. As I mention “preparations,” there is a good chance many of you thought of your children and what you need to accomplish on their behalf before next fall, but I would ask you to shift your focus for a few minutes away from prepping your children and ask yourself, “How am I, as a parent and home educator, preparing for next semester?”
As we desire and pursue excellence in education, we would do well to begin our personal preparations for next year by assessing this past academic year—discovering just how well we did our jobs as home educators. There are several ways to accomplish a thorough assessment, but here are my suggestions:
What went well this year? What went poorly this year?
What went well that was within my control? What went poorly that was outside my control?
Where did I cut corners and increase efficiency? Where did I cut corners and see negative effects?
Did I seek counsel when I struggled this year? Did I heed the counsel given? Did the situation improve?
Ask your spouse:
What were some of your favorite moments from the past academic year?
What happened that you want to see happen again?
What happened that you hope and pray never happens again?
Which aspects of our successes were within our control? Which were outside our control?
Which aspects of our failures were within our control? Which were outside our control?
Ask your children’s tutor(s):
What do you see as my strengths as a home educator? Weaknesses?
Do you have any suggestions for me as a home educator, for next year?
Ask your children:
What were some of the most enjoyable things about last year’s home school? Least enjoyable?
Which aspects about the way I homeschool do you want to stay the same?
Which things do you think I need to change?
There are, of course, many different types of questions that can be asked. Some of the ones listed above may resonate with you, some may not. My point is that the unexamined home school will not be improving. It is easy to fall behind; it takes work to catch back up. It is easy to be mediocre; it takes work to become excellent.
Are you willing to take an honest assessment of last year? Are you willing to make changes where changes need to be made? Are you willing to hear the opinion and wisdom of others?
Besides taking an assessment, I have one more suggestion—a suggestion that comes in three parts. No matter how well last year went, if you want next year to be better, you would do well to add additional layers to your education as a classical, Christian, homeschooling parent. Your parental “summer school” curriculum could have at least three components:
- Find the nearest Classical Conversations 3-Day Parent Practicum, make plans to attend, register to attend, then attend when the day arrives. Register now so that you don’t miss one that is near you and have to travel farther away. If you enroll your children in a camp, you will receive a free copy of Stephen Barr’s A Student’s Guide to Natural Science which leads me to my next suggestion…
- Choose a book to read over the course of the summer. Some selections that come to mind besides the practicum giveaway book would be Leigh Bortins’s The Core or The Question. If you have already read those, pick up a copy of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child or David Hicks’s Norms & Nobility. There are many, many good books you could read, but if you focus your mind on the topic of education, you will find ways to improve as a classical, home educator. Speaking of improving as a classical, home educator, you could also…
- Watch one “Cultivating Classical Parents” tutorial per week for the duration of the summer (available on CC Connected). I don’t even know if there are that many, but if not, watch some twice. You want to “cultivate” your growth as an educator. You probably won’t master the material covered in the tutorial in just one viewing. I have watched several of these tutorials and they are most helpful. If you do it, you will not regret it; if you don’t do it, you may.
I said three suggestions, but I have a fourth one—a bonus suggestion, if you will. I suggest that you…
Jesus was one with the Father and He prayed. Jesus had no sin encumbering His relationship with the Father and He prayed. Jesus could turn water into wine, walk on water, and raise the dead, and He prayed.
We need to be like Jesus and pray—to attune our minds to the mind of our heavenly Father; to ask forgiveness of the sin that we have committed; to ask for power from on high to do mighty things in Jesus’s name.
Summer vacation is upon us. It is time to take a breath; it is time to take a rest; and it is time to keep running the race that is set before us. Happy Summer “Vacation”!