At the beginning of last school year, we were starting from a low point…and a high point. The low point was that my daughter had lost her love of learning. Five years in the public-school system had left her felling dumb, hating reading, and deciding that school was boring, therefore learning was not fun. Please don’t hear that I am picking on the public-school system. As a public resource it follows the utilitarianism principle, it provides the greatest good to the greatest amount of people…leaving some behind. Sadly, my daughter was one of the left behind. She had fallen behind grade standard in reading ability and it effected all the other areas of her schooling. Teachers told me she was an anomaly, the tutor wasn’t making progress, and my daughter spent many days crying and telling me she was just dumb. I wasn’t kidding about the low point.
So, at the end of her 4th grade year I decided to homeschool. I heard it all. “Why would you do that?” “But you don’t have teaching credentials.” “How will she socialize?” Sometimes I offered up an answer and other times I resigned to let others think what they wanted. I knew this was the right thing for my child. And this is where the high point began. I now had the power to change the course of my daughter’s education while she was still young.
I planned and researched and met with an educational facilitator at my charter school to line up curriculum and plan the school year for my daughter entering 5th and my son entering kindergarten. I bought the books and ordered supplies. I did all those things you might imagine but there was one thing I did that set the course for the whole year. I set an intention.
My intention would be my guide through the school year. It would remind me of our greatest educational purpose that year and help us grow in the area most needed. It would keep me in my lane as I saw other moms doing it differently than me. It would remind me not to veer from course and add more stuff we didn’t need. It would guide me in how I taught my children. My intention would be very important.
My intention for last year was easy to pick. While some may have chosen to try to increase scores or meet new academic standards I simply chose, “help my children fall in love with learning”. I knew if I could do this all the other important factors would follow better reading and math skills and better grades. If I could entice my children to want to learn then academic improvements would surely follow. And they did. In just six months my daughter went from reading below her grade level to reading at a sixth to seventh-grade level based on state standard testing. She actually told me she liked reading! Not only that, but I was watching her become more inquisitive and take risks with learning new things.
Implementing my intention looked different everyday but it started with “unschooling”. We did not sit at a desk all day. We often learned outdoors. We focused on things that piqued her interest and researched and wrote about that. We implemented the discipline of narration for every passage she read. This caused some resistance at first, but this is what brought results in reading and writing comprehension as the year progressed. While we had daily tasks, I focused on the big picture to make learning interesting and fun. I didn’t over test or teach memorization of facts but let learning unfold naturally for her. I allowed her curiosity to lead us, and it did. Learning became fun.
As we enter year two, we have a new intention. This year it is “experience learning, encourage inquiries”. My core focus is the same: deepen a love of learning to make a lifelong learner. We will experience learning by being more hands on in all we do, and I will encourage the children to ask questions of everything. Just as a three-year-old asks why 50 times a day, I want my six and eleven-year-old children to do the same and then find the answers. This will develop a habit and lifestyle of learning that will carry them through their whole lives.
We all have a different situation. Some may homeschool like me and others will have children distance learning. Some will work as they manage their children’s education as I do, some won’t. Your intention should suit your family and your situation. Your intention should empower you and your family to have a great year no matter what you are facing. It can be measured simply by how your family feels at the end of the year.
When my daughter started telling people she liked school and when she started selecting books from the library for pleasure reading, when she asked me to learn new things and didn’t whine when I said to was time to do her studies I knew our intention was a success. She had now fallen back in love with learning. Does that mean she loves learning everything? Of course not, but her attitude about learning had changed. The improved scores were just a bonus. The intention had worked.
What is your intention this year? What will create balance in your house and a healthy learning environment and healthy attitude about learning for your child? For some it may be quality time with no screens every day. For others it will be regular outdoors breaks to improve your children’s moods and break up long days staring at a screen. It may be more personal such as taking on more responsibility in your child’s educational process. Or perhaps it’s backing off the pressure to perform and helping your child fall in love with the learning process as it was for me. Whatever it is, I encourage you to set an intention and return to it all school year. Then check back in with me next June and let me know how it went.
In struggle and triumph, your friend and co-laborer in the journey,
You can find me on my blog from time to time and pretty much daily on Instagram where I openly share my life of urban homesteading, homeschooling, and teaching God’s word.
I'm just a girl, standing before my God, knowing that He loves me and wanting others to know that love too.