Whether you homeschool or send your kids to a public or private school, it's a good idea to periodically take stock and see what's working -- and what's not -- regarding your sons' education. Some things to look at:
- Your sons' mood: How are your sons after school or lessons? All in all, are they content and energized? Or are they spent and depleted? Overall, are they expressing positive emotions toward school and learning, or has their outlook toward class and/or learning become increasingly negative?
- Your sons' curiosity: How curious is your son about the world? Does he remain interested in a few special subjects? (Some boys love robots; mine happen to love fishing, sports and RC cars.) Or is he becoming apathetic? A lack of interest in things -- especially things he once loved -- can signal trouble.
- Your mood: How are you doing? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you feel generally content and satisfied with your current educational arrangement, or do you frequently feel frustrated, overwhelmed or powerless? Your feelings matter too.
- Family flow: Is your educational choice working for your family? By now, your family should have settled into some kind of school routine. Is it working for you? Or do you constantly feel like you're engaged in an uphill battle?
- Engagement in learning: Don't get overly excited (or concerned) about what your sons have (or have not) learned so far this year. Instead, check his engagement. Whatever your doing, does your son seem interested and engaged in the learning process? Or is he pulling further and further away from lessons and learning?
Be alert for emotional challenges at school as well. There's been a lot of attention to bullying lately, but sadly, it remains a problem and reality for many kids. No child will remain enthusiastic about a learning environment that damages his soul. If bullying is a problem for your son, step in -- now. You can find some great tips from the Mayo Clinic here.
This year, we made some major educational changes. Boys #2-4 are now enrolled in our local public school full-time. That's a big change for a family that's practiced relaxed homeschooling for the past 6-and-a-half years! But you know what? It's working so far.
Boy #4, age 5, comes home from kindergarten each day bubbling with information and activity. When I pick him up at school, he calls out "good-bye!" to about a dozen kids. Every day, he's eager to show me what he's learned.
Boys #2 and 3 are at our local middle school. Like many kids, their favorite subjects include Gym and Recess. Almost daily, they'll talk about their exploits on the playground. And while there have been some playground challenges -- Boy #3 doesn't like the fact that the kids tend to bicker more than they actually play -- neither child is bothered enough to step away from the activity. Both have made friends; nearly every day, at least one friend from school comes over to play. Both boys also remain surprisingly enthusiastic about reading. They need to read a certain number of minutes each day -- but the best part is that both seem to thoroughly enjoy the books they read.
Boy #1 continues to be homeschooled, but blends his home education with two formal classes at school (Integrated Language Arts and Science), vocal lessons, show choir, acting and fishing. He also writes for an outdoors website, hookandbullet.com. He, too, seems generally content with his educational arrangement.
And I now have some time to breathe. While I will forever value our years of homeschooling, homeschooling on my own over the past two years was HARD. The hard part: trying to find enough time for my kids while also earning a family supporting income. I did it, but my own health and well-being suffered. (See Bullet Point #3) It was time for a change. And while I'll continue to monitor my sons' learning and education, for now, our unconventional choice seems the best choice for us.
How are things in your home? Is your educational choice working out, or is it time to make some changes?