April Showers Can Make September Flower
The picture of April showers refreshing our lawns and gardens reminds us of how God's showers of blessings bring refreshment to our souls. Spring is the season for planning what flowers you are going to plant for the summer to add color to your homes. Likewise, it's also a good time to begin thinking about and planning your next year of teaching.
At this point in the year, you may not be thinking at all about the next school year because you are trying to successfully finish up the current one. But taking a few hours now to look further down the road can help remove much of the stress for next year and relieve some stress that you're feeling this year.
TAKE AN OBJECTIVE LOOK at this year's garden...
Before jumping in and ordering curriculum for next year, take time to think through the past year. Evaluate how the curriculum fit your child, how easy it was to teach, and how your child responded to it. Then spend some time with each child and get his or her impressions and feedback. (Whatever you can do to involve them will help give them motivation for future courses they need to tackle.) Then, schedule your own mini strategy meeting--perhaps to the nearest coffee shop or library. Bring your homeschool curriculum catalogs, a calendar for the next school year, and your notes of potential resources that interest your child. Be sure to schedule at least a couple hours of uninterrupted time.
PLAN NEXT YEAR'S GARDEN now...
- Determine what courses are still needed to prepare your child for those post-high school goals. Beside each course list the curriculum you will consider using and make a note of the material you need to order--workbook, teacher's edition, test bank, answer keys, etc.
- Next, determine whether your child will take any classes outside of the home. If you will be part of a co-op, coordinate a time to meet with all of the members so that areas of responsibility can be sorted out, and each teaching parent has lots of time to prepare. If you're considering community college courses, remember that the registration deadlines are well before September.
- Remember to leave time for those other activities which will help to round out your student's schedule: extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, woodworking, etc., volunteer opportunities, a job, driver's education, and last, but not least, social and family times.
- Map out a general school calendar in advance. If a new baby is expected during the school year, or if the grandparents are coming for a visit in October, be sure to account for this lost time in your school calendar. It may mean that you'll want to start school several weeks earlier (maybe in August), or you'll need to take a shorter Christmas break (maybe one week instead of two weeks), but taking these special circumstances into account as you map out your calendar will help you to stay on track during the school year.
FIND GOOD SEED at the best price you can...
Keep an eye out for used curriculum that will save you dollars. Sometimes at your state homeschool convention, there will be a used curriculum store, so spend time browsing. Do you have a friend whose child is just a year or so ahead of your child? Give that mom a quick call and ask her what curriculum she may be interested in selling to you.
PLACE YOUR SEED ORDER...
Now you are ready to order that curriculum, register for online and distance learning courses, and schedule those classes. Again, be sure to check the deadlines for these so they are not missed. As you order books and register for courses, do not neglect recording the information on each child's transcript.
DON'T PLANT ALONE...
Your husband's leading, counsel, and support are invaluable. He is the one ultimately responsible for your homeschool. Once both of you have discussed next year's plan, bring your blueprint and lay it before the Lord and ask for His wisdom in the way you should go. When you are confident of His leading, you are ready to take the next step in fine-tuning your curriculum choices.
FERTILIZE THE GROUND....
Unless you refresh yourself, it will be hard to keep on going for the long haul. If possible, attend a homeschool convention. You'll be able to review curriculum up close, talk with representatives from the various publishers and get a chance to listen to others who have trod the path before you. Often you'll hear fresh ideas on how to tackle challenging areas of homeschooling.
In order to lighten your load a little bit during the school year, you might be able to get a few crops in the ground early. Think about what you can accomplish in the summer--especially in the area of high school electives. Perhaps there are free community drama/theatrical performances in your area. Attend these with your children, have them write about the performance, and then have them make a notebook of the various plays, concerts, and performances they see. Log the hours and perhaps you'll have a one-half or one-fourth elective Fine Arts credit completed this summer. Summer is also a great time to complete a one-half or one-fourth credit of a Career Development elective. Simply have your child research and investigate various careers he is interested in. He can make a record of the training or education needed, job outlook, national trends, average salary, etc. of these careers. If your child is ready for Driver's Ed, summer is a great time to study and practice for the road test so that it doesn't interfere with studies once the school year begins.
Also, take advantage of summer golf, volleyball, basketball camps, or similar sports camps to log some Phys Ed hours. Participation in a summer swim league or drama troupe can also be counted as elective credit.
Many other wonderful camp opportunities are available during the summer that can easily translate into high school elective credits. Patrick Henry College offers a full slate of summer leadership camps such as Debate, Journalism, and Strategic Intelligence. Register before April 15 and take advantage of discounted fees.
Read more about it at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=2945
Other organizations offer great summer opportunities as well such as Summit Ministries, Probe Ministries, and Worldview Academy.
Read more about it at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=2946
Lastly, make plans this summer to read just one book that will encourage you and refocus your thoughts as you homeschool your high schooler.
- "A Mom Just Like You" by Vicki Farris
- "Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love" by Jerry Bridges
- "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge
- "Girl Talk" by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre
A little planning now in April can save you valuable time during the school year. It also helps you to see that this school year will come to an end. So, make the most of the next several months, and reap a harvest in September.
Next month, we'll look into setting some important goals for your student's high school years. The high school years go by quickly, and you don't want to get lost in the day-to-day details and lose sight of valuable life skills you can impart. We'll touch on some of these skills to remind you to look beyond the academics and to make the mos
of these high school days with your teens as you help them mature into godly young men and young ladies.
Walking with you under showers of blessings,
Becky and Diane
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (4/6/2006), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.