Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thoughts at the End of a School Year

We're at the point in our school year where we are starting to count the days until we're finished.  We've already wrapped up a few subjects and are working to finish a few others. 

This is also the point in our school year where the doubts creep in.  Did we read enough?  Did I teach them what they need to know for their ages?  Did we leave out anything important?  Was I too lenient?  Was I too demanding? Will they remember what they learned? 

I have to give myself a pep talk and remind myself of a few things:

  • We do not have to "keep up" or "slow down" or be on pace with anyone!  Who is really to say what is typical or required for 1st or 3rd or 5th grade anyway? 
  • Almost anything we spent time reading, listening to, or attempting "counts."  So halfway through the year we decided it wasn't working and we started something else instead?  It doesn't make the first half of the year meaningless.  It just means we took a new direction.
  • If we left something out, there is always next year.  (True story: When Gavin was nine, I realized to my embarrassment that he could not name the days of the week in order.  It took about five minutes to set that right!  Another true story: Last week I asked my kids, "Can you name a state that begins with the letter 'M'?" and someone answered, "Mexico."  Learning the states is something we'll be working on!)
  • Learning will continue for a lifetime.  If someone forgets something I deem important, they'll learn it again when the need arises or it becomes interesting to them personally.  I didn't learn everything I know in my thirteen years of school and then stop learning.  My kids won't either.  

After I calm myself down and remember these truths, I take time to write down all the things we did do. Including the extras life activities that I don't always consider "school," it's always more than I think. We went to the zoo 3 times-- science!  We dyed Easter eggs-- art!  We went to a performance of The Nutcracker-- music!  We read books while we were sick-- literature!  We made lists and wrote penpal letters and traced our names in the sand-- English!  We made muffins-- home ec!  We learned to count by 5s-- math! 

Life is learning! 


  1. I had something more typed out and it disappeared...

    Love this. It's so true how the end of the year starts creeping to a close and my mind goes to "that" place. "Have they learned enough?", "what are other kids their age learning?", "are they behind?" AND, then I remember that this is God's plan for our family and His plans are far better than my ways.

    Love your thoughts on this!! It's just what I needed to read!

  2. In GA I had to write up an end of the year summary. It always helped remind me that we actually DID accomplish something! I guess we're harder on ourselves than we think...but after I go back and write everything that we learned, what the kids accomplished, outings, etc. I think Wow! We had a busy, fun and well rounded year! ;)

  3. We'll be learning (at a more relaxed pace) throughout the summer, but I have started organize the portfolio I need for the board. It's amazing how much we learn when we're not really "doing school" at all.

    I just read a post about how school (especially homeschool) should be designed to prepare our children for "the real world". I do think academics are important (to a degree) but there are so many more important skills our kids need in order to live productive, God-pleasing lives.

    Right now, I'm trying not to be discouraged and push Emahry to read before she's ready. I keep reminding myself that it's so much more important for her to enjoy being read to than to dread the process of reading something by herself. If she loves books and isn't afraid to fail, she'll end up reading eventually...right? :)

  4. I was an early reader myself. I could read before I started kindergarten, but neither of kids has read early. In fact, Maddie began showing signs of wanting to learn to read when she was 3 or 4 and she is just now getting confidence to read well. Gavin was the same way. It was a long, slow process! I tried to remind myself that even reading c-a-t is reading. It might be the beginning stages, but it is still reading! And listening to great books being read aloud is beyond beneficial!

  5. I, too, find that when I look back, we've always accomplished more than it "feels" like.

    This year I'm really not feeling the pressure or doubts. I think at least part of the reason is that we aren't "winding down". I'm intending to close up the binders and pack this years things away, but When June ends and July begins, we'll just still be doing the same old thing... picking our way through math, writing, reading, etc. Just as you said that learning continues throughout life, we are choosing to educate our children year around... learning just keeps going. And as you said, if something isn't understood or known now, it certainly can be picked up in the next few months! :)

    Great post!

  6. Emahry sounds a lot like Maddie. She started showing a lot of reading readiness signs between 3 and 4 and even began reading some small words, but 2 years later she still isn't ready to read books on her own. It's definitely a lot longer process than I would have anticipated, but I think a lot of my doubts stem from my own poorly formed expectations.

  7. @Babychaser, we do take a summer break for a number of reasons (Why I Take a Summer Break From School ), but truly, we are learning all year round. Last year, we did a unit on the human body throughout the summer. This summer, I'm thinking about geography. The kids don't know it's school, though. ;-)

  8. Loved this pep talk! I needed to hear it too. :)

    I especially like your last point. When I started homeschooling, I asked several ladies who have homeschooled over a long period of time what they thought I should know. One thing my aunt (5 successfully homeschooled children, many with college degrees, and all happy and gainfully employed)said something that really stuck with me - EVERYONE has gaps in their education and we can trust God that when those gaps surface, the person will learn then what they need to know. I like this because it encourages me to be faithful, but not to think it's up to me to make sure my children know everything! There is no way I can teach them everything in the world. :) I also think this allows me to trust the Lord and follow Him in our children's education. I have several friends who are teachers, and I HATE it when they say things like "I had this kid that didn't realize that sand is crushed rock." Because - SO WHAT! Now he does! Ha, ha...I could totally get on my soapbox about that! Oh wait...I already have. ;)


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