Making Changes That Count
To many, the new year is symbolic of a fresh start. It is the birth of new hope and a discarding of past disappointments. I find myself reflecting on the past year in the weeks leading up to Christmas in order to take an inventory of the goals I made for myself, for the home, and for homeschooling.
Have I achieved what I set out to do? Were the goals tangible and realistic? What changes worked for the best and where do I see a need for improvement? What difficulties came up and how were they dealt with?
In order to make the kind of change that counts, that endures beyond a new and exciting trial period, we must learn to be brutally honest with ourselves. If we discover something to have become overly frustrating or even drudgery we need to stop and assess what it is we’re doing. If there is no joy to be had, especially in homeschooling, I implore you to take a step back, take a deep breath, and view the circumstance with a critical eye.
If the love of learning is missing from your homeschool, stop. There is no shame in taking a day or even a week off just to spend quality time with your kids. It really helps to step away and remove yourself from the chaos, recharge, and reconnect. Your children are only young for so long. Academics can wait. Homeschooling should be joyous, not a chore to slog through.
If you find yourself dreading a subject because of the curriculum you’re using, chuck it. I mean, right now. Don’t wait. If you haven’t found something to replace it right away, fill the time by reading with your children, playing a game, or doing something else that can recapture the joy of learning. If you’re miserable, chances are pretty high that your children are as well.
I’ve made a few changes during this school year already, one being a complete change in the science curriculum. There are several others I have in mind, and I hope to implement them in the weeks ahead.
But as important as being honest with ourselves is, we cannot hope to make strong, lasting changes without having a game plan.
New Year’s resolutions are not binding and usually fizzle out before the month is over. Our goals must be both realistic and specific. You might have in mind a goal to make your child a voracious reader. This is a noble enough goal, but how are you going to accomplish this, and what is your time frame?
Be as thorough as you can in identifying the strengths and weaknesses in your child. Then, with that knowledge, decide what your next step will be. Where your child struggles, work on that one particular thing and give yourself a finish line. Make it a tandem effort with a tangible reward.
Short term goals are the best type of goals in building confidence and stamina. If you and your children have a specific goal in mind getting there will become less of an effort. Don’t get bogged down in generalities. Etch out every little detail and make it a game. See how quickly you can climb its peaks.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. No one gets to their destination by driving over yonder a ways and turning here and there. You just might run out of gas and find yourself lost.
Making changes that count requires you to count the costs, to have a roadmap of where you’re going, and enough gas in the car to get you there.
The key is to start small and be very specific. It might take a little more effort on your part, but it will be well worth it once you and your children cross the finish line. As you become adept at the 100-yard dash, you’ll find yourself primed for the 200 in the next round. Keep going. Make the changes that count.
Cheryl L. Stansberry is a Reformed Christian (OPC) writer with a desire to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of the people. She homeschools her four children out on the eastern plains of Colorado.
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ~ Joshua 24:15b