Thursday, December 30, 2010

11 Homeschooling Resolutions for '11

Happy New Year! Well... Almost. :) I feel like we're not only starting a new calendar year but a new school year as well. We have a few new materials that we'll begin next week. A few were saved until after the holidays because the fall was just too crazy with family illness. Math was recently changed to a new program that would work better for our daughter. It also seems that after years of year-round homeschooling we've gradually switched to a January to December school year.

In keeping with these "New Year" themes I started thinking about goals for our homeschool in 2011. Specifically, I've been thinking of goals that I wanted to set that might be non-traditional. Yes, I want my daughter to learn. Yes, I want her to enjoy learning. Yes, I want us to be successful and have her grow in her faith. I'm not downplaying them by leaving them off the list. They are what we consider "given" goals. My list is for all of the extra things that I've been thinking about lately. It's not all encompassing, and it isn't in any particular order.

1. Get organized! 
I don't know why I have this desire to get so organized lately, but I do! My main focus this year will be to get my things organized... books, videos, curricula, supplements, etc. We moved during the 2009/10 school year and unfortunately downsized the amount of space that we had for things such as school materials. Some of our materials are stored in a storage unit, some are stored in the basement, some are boxed in our closet, and some are on our school shelf. Confused? Me, too! My goal is to have a master list of materials. I just know that we have materials that our older girls used that our youngest daughter could use as well. It kills me to find something after I needed it. (And yes, I've even purchased a double of something in storage!) Organization is a must.

2. Get my system together!
Lee Binz is my homeschool transcript hero. She's also a pretty cool lady. ;) If you read through her blog and HomeScholar website you'll see that she classifies record keeping in a variety of ways. By her system I was a Binder Queen in a former homeschool life. Now that we're nearing the time to have transcripts and records for the kid I think it's about time that I dust off that binder and get to keeping those records! Transcripts are easy (as long as you have a system!)

3. Be more spontaneous!
I used to love the freedom that came with homeschooling. We'd take a day off for a great field trip or take a day trip to a festival that peaked an interest. Just because the kid is growing up it is no excuse to give up being spontaneous! We are blessed to have a fantastic Metro Park system in our area. They offer wonderful nature programs, and their winter programs are no exception. Many days I've looked out and thought that it was a wonderful day to take some photos. The next time I think that we are going to head to a Metro Park and be photographers for an hour. Math and Science can still be done even with a little side trip!

4. Plan a few field trips!
Years ago I was a field trip planning maniac. Then I did what every good homeschool mom does... I got burned out. This year I want to put together a few field trips for the older kids in town. It seems that once they approach high school the field trips start to drop off of the radar. It doesn't have to happen. Now, to just figure out where and when...

5. Do what we feel led to do, not what others do!
You'd think that after as many years as I've homeschooled I wouldn't have to remind myself to do this, but I do. I think we all do. It is way too easy to fall into the checklist trap. Whether it is a local homeschool group's helpful website that includes a typical course of study, your best friend's idea of their next four years, or the top selling homeschool approach title recently added to your library's shelves it is far too easy to find yourself creating your year around someone else's goal. I do a good job at fighting this though I have conversation after conversation with my husband before I realize what I'm doing. This year I'm going to write our goals, pray about our goals, revise our goals, and then ignore everyone else's goals. ;)

6. Continued focus on arts!
This is pretty clear if you know me, self explanatory if you don't. I love art. I live art. I dream art. And, luckily enough, my kid does, too. This year I want her to see me push past my own interests and failures, and I want to continue to support her in her desire to express herself which includes her classes, art projects, an art museum membership, etc. The world is a much more colorful place with art!

7. College visits!
Here's where you say, "Huh?!" I'll let you in on a secret. My child has been planning her college career since she was in kindergarten. Of course back then she was going to be a ballerina-paleontologist-archaeologist, but she was still telling us what college she was going to attend. She's signed herself up for mailings from local Christian colleges. She's asked me to help her locate information. Many of my friends think we're nuts! After all, she's only 13! This year I'm going to stop listening to people who tell me to let her be a kid, and I'm going to drive that motivated kid to at least three college campuses so she can see what it is like. (We are blessed to have a lot - and I mean A LOT - of colleges within an hour's drive so this is why I can peg that many for the year!) After my grandfather passed we were able to take a quick detour to drive through her number one choice campus, and it thrilled her to no end. My sister works at another college and took her on a quick evening tour of the grounds when we were visiting this summer. Again, pure bliss. We most likely won't tour officially, though maybe we will with some of the colleges that have high school programs and summer camps. Either way I will support her in this goal even if it is non-traditional according to charts, graphs, and friends.

8. More free time!
Enough said! There's a time for everything... including free time!

9. Revise our plan and write it in cement!
Ok, maybe not cement. Maybe on a post it note stuck to our binder (see #2) with rubber cement. I've always been a chart girl. I've planned our middle and high school years every fall based on decisions made. They have been "previews" so to speak. I expected them to change. The kid is actually earning high school credits so this spring I need to get a real plan that, though open to tweaking, will remain generally unchanged in intent. This will have to come after the goals. And the free time. A girl needs free time to recover from writing goals. ;)

10. Use the spring convention season wisely!
I almost hesitate to put this in writing, but I attended my very first homeschool convention last spring. Correction... my very first live, in person homeschooling convention. (I've attended a few online.) Yes, it only took me ten years of homeschooling to actually go to one! I loved it. Every minute! This year I want to be a little more prepared. I had looked at a good number of vendors online before the convention, but this year I want to go further, have my goals in hand before arriving in Cincinnati, and budget accordingly so that I can take better advantage of sales!

11. Journal, record, photograph!
I was such a great record keeper in my early days! I'm talking about the fun records... thoughts, favorite times, photographs. For years I would create a scrapbook at the end of the year to record all of my daughter's fun times for that grade/age. This year I hope to do the same! I want to record more of the things that make my kid HER at this age. I'm already looking forward to it!

So there are my 11 Homeschooling Resolutions for '11. If you are a homeschooler have you been thinking about revising your year? What areas will receive additional focus? I'd love to hear about your goals for 2011!


SisterTipster said...

I am loving your list for the New Year~I can agree with ALL of 'em in our family too~boy, I definitely need nos...let's see: the free time one and the organize one and also the journal, record and photo...yeah, I REALLY need to do that one too~thanks soo much for your kind words of encouragement too~it's so appreciated~BIG HUGS~Happy New Year! I'm following you as well :-))

Lori said...

These are great! I love the focus on art. While I believe our family to be highly intelligent, we aren't "intellectuals" or "academics" and I have recently been made to feel like a failure due to that. Sigh. My skin needs to be thicker because I love that our family is more interested in art, music, and good books than academics for the sake of academics.

Anyway, I need to sit down and write out a post like this at some point. Good way to gather your thoughts. Right now I have a thought of Relationships First, but I need to flesh that out a bit more.

Thanks for sharing!

Berry Patch said...

I love this idea. Great goals! I'll be stealing the idea for my blog. ;-)

Wild Crickets said...

Thanks, SisterTipster! :) I'm so glad that my words encouraged you. We have to encourage each other along this great journey (otherwise it's far too overwhelming some days!)

Lori - I can't wait to read your post about relationships! I used to get a bit twitchy when people would comment on our art focus, but I think having such talented people around me helped me realize that we are simply using the gifts and bent that God gave us. (Notice I said gifts and not talents. lol Sometimes they are different!) An educated person is so much richer, I think, because of art, music, books. With those things you can learn about the world, people, history. It all reflects the times and the world at the moment of conception. I think that means that your kids will be the most educated of all. :)

Lisa - Steal away! I've stolen many ideas from you over the years. lol Can't wait to have my blog time later to see what you wrote!