At the beginning of every school year, I make a little personal checklist as to how I can improve homeschooling in the upcoming year. I don’t always stick to the lists as well as I’d like, but I try. With the upcoming year approaching, just for fun, I’ll share my list with you.
1) Give the teacher an apple.
Instead of being homeschooling mothers, if our wives were teachers in school, they would receive paychecks as a tangible sign of accomplishment. I feel bad that Lisa doesn’t get a paycheck, but I have an idea. This year, when our children achieve academic successes, Lisa’s getting prizes. I’m not kidding.
2) Go on more field trips as a family.
I’m not sure who invented field trips, but they tend to make an impact. For instance, when I was growing up, my mom used to take me and my brothers to Richmond to petition the state government for favorable homeschooling laws. That was our civics field trip; a few years later, I majored in Political Science. Instead of making field trips a once-in-a-while thing, we’re going to do one or two field trips per month. And Daddy’s coming along.
3) Help our children become better writers.
Partially due to influences such as the blogosphere, the level of writing in America has hit an all-time low. Therefore, I’m going to spend a few hours every week helping my children become better writers. Looking back, I think that one of the reasons that I love writing is that I was first published at the age of 10. It was a small Christian magazine, and I don’t know how many people read it, but seeing my name in print at age 10 seemed pretty cool. So my goal for this year is to help Demetrius (16), Tarcisius (14), and Philomena (12) each see their own article published in a magazine.
4) Help our children with public speaking.
I am currently reading John Shosky’s book, Speaking to Lead: How to Make Speeches that Make a Difference. Shosky claims that 99% of speeches are basically worthless and accomplish nothing. Therefore, I am going to design a speaking class for our children. By the end of the year, the older homeschooled children will know how to write and deliver a speech — a good speech.
5) Go to the library once a week.
Over the years, Lisa and I have had times we have gone to the library more than others, but one thing is for sure: the more we take them, the more they read. So this year, I am committing to having a weekly library night, in which we will take anyone and everyone who wants to go, to pick new books to read for the week.
6) Read books together.
For much of the homeschooling process, when my children are reading novels, they will tell me about the book, but I don’t usually remember too many specifics about the book because it is usually something that I have read years before. So this year, I will read along with them some classic novels that I have not yet read. And it should be a lot of fun for both the children and myself to talk about the books together as we read them. (Now I have to make another list of books to read with the kids. Feel free to comment below with ideas for reading, but please note, I’m not reading anything by Emily Bronte or Jane Austen. I’m a guy.)
7) Spend more time coloring with my little children.
Author Robert Fulghum has written a considerable amount about the joy of coloring with Crayolas. I agree. In All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Fulghum writes: “It’s harder to talk about, but what I really, really, really want for Christmas is just this: I want to be 5 years old again for an hour. I want to laugh a lot and cry a lot. I want to be picked up and rocked to sleep in someone’s arms, and carried up to bed just one more time. I know what I really want for Christmas: I want my childhood back.” Maybe Fulghum understood something that ought to dawn on every parent: nothing makes you feel five years old again more than coloring with your five-year-old. And the little children love to know that you’re helping them also with their “work”.
There you have it. Seven tips for making this homeschooling year better than the last. As the year goes by, I’ll let you know how I’m doing.