Monday, August 1, 2011

School Year's Resolutions

    Last weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Immaculate Heart of Mary home school conference in Tampa.  A good friend of mine was one of the organizers and she had expressed the desire to schedule the conference earlier in the year next time around.  Ideally, March or April, at the very latest June, to give us all the chance to plan ahead a little more.  I, for one, thought the timing was perfect though.  I was glad to have the inspirational and encouraging words of all the talented speakers so close to the start of our school year.  It was just what I needed to give me the confidence and motivation to begin another year of teaching my kids. 
    One thing that came up in the talks was the idea of setting goals.  I have done that the last few years but this year I decided to try a new approach to goal setting.  All of my goals in the past have been for my children, things like memorize the times tables, master long division, or write a report a month on a different saint. This year, I am going to make a list of goals for me, as their mother and teacher.  A list of “school year’s resolutions” for our upcoming year.    So here goes:  This year I resolve to:
  • Read aloud to the children everyday without fail.
  • Make our learning space a place of beauty with great religious artwork, classical music, more poetry, and, most importantly, a peaceful, patient attitude.
  • Take the children to daily Mass at least once a week.
  • Spend more time talking to my children and listening to them, and less time worrying about providing perfectly planned out lessons and fail-proof curriculum choices.
  • Focus more on what my children are learning and less on whether they can get perfect scores on their workbook pages.  I’ve noticed the two are not synonymous, often my children will ace a workbook activity only to be clueless about the skill it meant to impart. 
  • Let my children make mistakes and try new things without feeling the need to step in, remembering they will learn from their mistakes and even more so, from the opportunity to work things out in their own way.
  • We started out last year with critical thinking activities every Wednesday.  By the end of the year the kids called it “game day” instead of critical thinking, whatever it's called we will continue our Wednesday activities.  Teaching my children to think is the best thing I can do.  BTW, they, scored off the charts for research skills on their annual testing- game day worked!
  • A few years ago, before baby #5 was born, we used to take nature walks once a week.  We did not keep journals or take notes along the way we just walked and talked and enjoy the scenes around us.  Sometimes we stopped to watch an animal or listen to a bird, but there was nothing formal about it.  Weekly nature walks are back this year!
There may be more but for now…that’s a start…

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