For some of you reading this, 2020 has been a year adorned with victories and triumphs as you’ve homeschooled your children; however, for others, your year has been punctured with formidable challenges and – what at times has felt like – insurmountable odds.
For some, 2020 was your first sojourn into the uncharted waters of homeschooling, whereas for others you have been at this for a while already.
What I am sure of for everyone though, is that every year come December, Moms (and Dads) and Educators in general are worn out – and so too are their children.
Add to this the extreme stress brought on by a world-wide pandemic with unprecedented challenges that has been gutting economies at both ends of the spectrum as well as all those in between; and you have yourself a bunch of punch-drunk people in desperate need of a holiday.
What I want to share with you in this blog post will hopefully help consolidate
the accomplishments of those of you that have enjoyed a successful homeschooling year;
whilst at the same time (and perhaps even more importantly), encourage and re-align
those of you that have enjoyed a less than successful homeschooling year.
But first, let me quickly give you some context…
In 2018, I had the privilege of hearing John Calvin Maxwell address a group of leaders as part of the Global Leadership Summit. (John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, coach and speaker. He has written many books, primarily focusing on leadership. He was identified in recent years as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association and the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc.)
The topic of his address was
“What all leaders have in common”;
and there was one particular part of his talk
that really stood out for me entitled,
“Do An Autopsy On Success”
Chances are that now some of you are saying to yourselves,
“Marc, have you been tucking onto the eggnog?
What on earth does ‘leadership’ and ‘doing an autopsy on success’
have to do with homeschooling – especially in 2020?!”
I’m so glad you asked that question!
- For starters, may I remind you that as a parent and educator, part of your responsibility is to lead your children.
- Secondly, you are raising men and women who, God-willing, will one day be leaders – be it in business, society or just in their homes for their children.
- Finally (this is not meant to be a finite list), in order to try and ensure that our homeschooling gets better year-on-year, we must look back at what happened, what worked and what didn’t and so on and so forth; and it is in conducting this “autopsy” that we learn and grow.
Going through this exercise is not only valuable, but also highly relevant at this particular point in the year – given that in the main, parents are in the process of winding down and finishing off their homeschooling for the year. They are about to put the book on the shelf (pardon the pun) – it is thus the perfect time to reflect on the year that was.
So… if you will indulge me just a little longer, all will be revealed!
(I should also add that I beg Mr Maxwell’s gracious tolerance of my somewhat liberal application of his teaching as I apply it to homeschooling.) HaHa.
When you start again in the New Year… you’ll be so glad
you took the time now to follow through on this 5 step “autopsy”!
The reason I say this, is because too many folk Test (try something) and Fail, and then simply go straight to Re-enter, without taking the time to explore what they can Learn from the both the experience and the mistakes they made. And nor do they then interrogate these to see how they may Improve – thereby avoiding making the same mistakes – when they eventually Re-enter.
By not taking the time to incorporate the “Learn” and “Improve” steps of the cycle process,
they just keep bumping their heads, as they make the same (or similar) mistakes
time and time and time again when they “Re-enter”.
Test… Fail… Re-enter; Test… Fail… Re-enter; Test… Fail… Re-enter (you get the picture!).
The cycle process to apply then, is:
- Test some of your thinking and paradigms that influenced your homeschooling decisions, actions, activities etc.
- Fail may be a label applicable to some aspects of your homeschooling — call it as it is
- Learn from these areas that didn’t work, but also capitalise on the areas that did work
- Improve by making changes and being prepared to experiment and do things differently as needed
- Re-enter in 2021 more grounded, having learned from your mistakes and so much better equipped and prepared to lead your children as you continue to disciple them through homeschooling.
With the above in mind, here are FIVE simple and practical steps to help you
as you conduct your “autopsy” into the success of your 2020 Homeschooling year:
1. Ask: “What Didn’t Work and Why?”
Does this emanate from using outdated material / boring black and white worksheets / following an eclectic approach because of pressure from friends when you know you’d be more comfortable with some structure / or visa versa…
If there were things that didn’t work, be sure to avoid them next year. Remember, a curriculum is there to serve you, not become your master! After all, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Don’t fall into this trap!
Try that new Maths syllabus, move your homeschooling to another part of the house – where it’s warmer/cooler, has more space/is smaller and more intimate… whatever! Let your child sit on a gym ball if they battle to sit still on a chair, take regular breaks/less regular breaks, do more/less kinaesthetic/auditory/visual activities to better suit your child’s learning “language”.
The important thing is, DON’T.BE.AFRAID.TO.MAKE.CHANGES. — Especially in those areas that didn’t work — again, for your children’s sake AND your sanity! (Once you’ve establish what Failed, you can Learn from it and identify ways to Improve.)
2. Now Ask: “What Did Work and Why?”
Think about any new things that you introduced, or changes that you made. Was it a new Maths offering that sparked fresh interest from your child…? or starting earlier/later in the morning…? Perhaps a new eating regimen for your children or changes made to their diet…? Did you lay new boundaries regarding limiting harmful excessive screen time exposure or an earlier curfew for bedtime which saw them so much more awake and attentive?… and so on and so forth.
The chances are that during the holidays – especially over Christmas – we all tend to be a lot more lenient with boundaries. The net result however is that bad habits will creep in when it comes to things like eating less healthy snacks, being allowed to stay up late, watching more TV etc.
You want to be sure that once the holidays are over and you Re-enter after festive season break, you have a clear picture of the things that you know you need to have in place and that work for your children and for you! (Once again, you’ve had a chance to Learn and Improve.)
3. Recognise: “Where Were There Areas Of Growth?”
As you get into the habit of keeping a record of “the year that was”, you’ll have more and more points of reference as regards recognising the Improvements/growth/maturity that are happening in your children.
We all love to be encouraged and recognised for things that we are doing well/getting better at. As the old saying goes, “Nothing breeds success like success.”
The important thing then is… PLEASE.CELEBRATE.THEM. — Don’t be shy, make a BIG thing of the growth and maturity that you see in your children.
4. Identify: “Which Areas Need More Focus In The New Year?”
There is almost always something in what we are doing, that we can Improve. Perhaps your child needs to read more, write more, or even verbally narrate more – to help him order his thoughts and get comfortable with the sound of his own voice in a “public” forum.
Maybe he has a tendency to avoid trying new things/making changes to old things?
In the loving, nurturing, patient and safe environment that is your HOME-school, there is ample opportunity to gently address this and help him overcome this fear.
Maybe the area that needs focus is something more related to you, Mom! (Smile)
Do you perhaps need to work on your self-control / time management / patience /
prioritising / being less distracted by other things that are causing you to lose focus
in your homeschooling, or…?
I encourage you to “call it what it is” and then doggedly confront and be determined to conquer it! But remember what God tells us in His word in Zechariah 4:6 –
‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
Godly thinking is important, but useless if it doesn’t lead to godly living.
~paraphrase of James 1:22
5. Write It All Down
Don’t be conned into believing that you’ll remember all the points that have come to mind as you’ve been mulling over the previous 4 points… please, WRITE.THEM.DOWN.
Remember it’s not just for reference a few weeks from now. This can and will become your Homeschooling Journal as you journey through the years of educating your children. Just like a Prayer Journal where you look back and recognise how God has so graciously answered prayers, your Homeschooling Journal too will be a wonderful source of encouragement for you (and your children). In time, you will get to tick off the issues that needed addressing, reflect on and recognise the areas of growth and maturity – both in your children and in you – and yes, celebrate the victories that are scored as you disciple your children through homeschooling!
Having applied the Learn and Improve steps, you will Re-enter the New Year, “stronger”, more confident and better prepared.
Remember to work through the practical steps above,
in keeping with the “Autopsy on Success” cycle process:
Test, Fail, Learn, Improve, Re-enter.
In Closing… An Observation — Thank You — Season’s Greetings — and Office Closure.
We at Love2Learn are hugely encouraged by three
significant changes that have happened
as a result of lockdown:
- The notable shift in society, towards a new-found respect for
what homeschooling parents do
- A shocking realisation of the less than ideal education their
children are receiving in mainstream schooling
- A startling recognition of the advantages that homeschooling
offers their child!
It has been my experience over the past 20+ years
that most families come to homeschooling as a last resort,
but then when they are in it, they recognise that
it should have been their first choice all along!
On behalf of the Love2Learn Team, I would like to extend a sincere thank you
to all our families and Cottage Schools that have supported Love2Learn
and Imperial International College over the past year.
It has been a privilege and our pleasure to serve you.
We trust that both you and your precious children have been Blessed by all that you have covered;
and we look so forward to doing more of this all over again with you in the New Year!
Kindly note that our offices close on Tuesday, 15 December and are scheduled to reopen on Friday, 8 January 2021.
In closing, we wish you and your family
a healthy, safe, peaceful and Blessed festive season.