Difficult is now easy

This time of year is often a time of reflection …

… looking back and evaluating,

… looking forward and planning.

In a recent Art of Simple post, Katie wrote  When Everything Seems Difficult   and made this incredible statement ~

“Don’t judge yourself by what’s still difficult. Judge by what’s now easy.”

Wow …

I don’t know about you, but in my homeschooling (and in life) I found myself often judging myself when I didn’t know how to tackle a certain problem,  when I seemed unable to help my kids, and I even judged my ability as a teacher when my children struggled. I judged my parenting abilities when my children battled with issues.

But, if I had just marvelled at what now seemed easy,  observed that we had mastered certain skills, or looked at how we learnt how to pace ourselves instead of struggling to keep up with someone else’s schedule, or found what learning methods and approaches worked, those successes would most certainly been encouraging.

When you are deep in the trenches, perhaps with newborn baby, or potty-training a busy toddler while struggling to continue teaching kindergartener or junior primary children, you may well feel overwhelmed.  Everything seems like a struggle.

But look back at how far you and your kids have come.

Look to see how many skills they have mastered.

Look to see that those habits you worked with so much effort to establish with such intensity, now seems completely natural, and be encouraged.

So as you evaluate your year, may I encourage you to look through the lens of this question ~ “What seems easy now that was difficult a while ago?”

If you want to do a character evaluation for each child, here is a free download for you ~ Character Report.pdf .  I shared how we enjoyed this evaluation process in my post Report and Evaluation Pages because if the child is old enough, he/she can evaluate themselves with a 1-4 scoring system.  This post also includes a Homeschool Assessment form I used to summarize the schoolwork, books, materials and skills covered and describe my children’s strengths, weaknesses and joys and highlights of the year.

We are all learning and growing, moving forward, gaining momentum, finding our way.  In whatever area of your life or your family’s life, give credit to this positive growth and be encouraged!

Peace and Blessings, Nadene

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Ending and Beginning

My older two daughters have been away enjoying their summer holiday with friends, working hard on a self-sufficiency farm, and having times of fun, intimacy and fellowship!

While my youngest daughter enjoyed her time alone with us on our farm, visiting Grandparents for Christmas and swimming with us at the beach during our brief time away.P1120329

I have spent some quieter days at home closing off the school year and planning for next year.

Ending …

I packed my eldest daughter’s Grade 11 notebooks and study guides into a box and cleared my planning file for her new year.

Beginning …

Miss. T18 will do her Matric (our final high school graduation) this year!  I’m stunned!  My last official year with her! Already she looks ahead beyond the final year towards her future and I prayerfully plan and search out options with her.P1120072Beginning … and ending …

Our 13-year-old will officially start her high school course and join her older sister on Impak Education .  She will cover 9 separate subjects which will be a stretch for her!  But she wants to work independently and we’ll try to ease our way to that goal. My role will change from fellow-traveller to tutor.  Somehow I feel sad.  Those delicious days of delight and discovery will fade away to the demands of stricter and fuller schedules, external standards, tests, portfolio assignments and exams.

… and beginning again …

As for my 10-year-old, we simply pick up where we left off and continue the joyous journey of our Footprints on our Land.  In many ways I live out all my Charlotte Mason and homeschooling ideals with her and find my experience homeschooling Miss. L10 utterly fulfilling and inspiring.

I used my nifty binding machine and created 2 huge ring-binders of her year’s work.  She helped me and marvelled with sweet pride at all her notebook pages, lapbooks and art works.

Note to moms with young children – treasure your child’s junior and primary school years and enjoy every age and stage!  It all passes by so fast.

A wise older mom gave this priceless advice to a young mom ~

“Go for the heart in your homeschooling.”

Engage your child’s heart.

Make moments matter.

Create intimate memories.

Focus on relationships and keep hearts open.

So with my bare shelves waiting for the highschool books to arrive, files cleared and prepared, new charts and notebook pages prepared and 2013 calendar laid out, I rest and reflect and thank the Lord.

I wish you every blessing of God’s love, joy and grace for the New Year.

Blessings,

Report and Evaluation Pages

Previously I described how we ended our school year and filed our work.  While we put our files in order,  I ask some questions and jot down my children’s answers. I use these answers when I compile my end of year report.

Here are our Report and Assessment Pages ~

First, we had fun filling in our “Character Report” forms together!

The child choses their own scores and then I give my scores.  The scores are 1= rarely/never; 2 = fairly/ seldom; 3 = mostly/ very much; and 4 = always/ Yes!  I am!

(Hint: Whenever you ask someone to give a score of 1,2, or 3, most will inevitably choose 2; the middle or average score, but with 4 scores, they have to choose which side of the middle they prefer.  This 4-score-method forces them to make a more correct assessment.)

We chatted about their personal scores and mine and I asked them which character traits they were strong in and which areas they felt they should work on.  My kids really enjoyed this!

Secondly I filled in a “Homeschool Assessment” form ~

I use this form to summarize the work , books, materials and skills covered and describe my children’s strengths, weaknesses and joys and highlights of the year.

I do not award marks or give any scores. (You may be required to assess your children’s work differently for your country or state.)

During the year I usually only mark my children’s Spelling and Maths.  I oversee all the other written work and usually don’t check/ tick or mark it.  We correct handwriting immediately in our copywork and dictation lessons and discuss grammar in Language Arts lessons.

In junior and middle school, a parent sees that the child completes the work correctly and with a good attitude. I believe we are evaluating daily.  We know the moment our child struggles or does not grasp concepts and we can repeat that lesson/ present the work in another way/ or remediate immediately.  This is the joy of homeschooling!  We can work at a pace and with the most appropriate methods to make sure that our children love what they learn.  Tests and scores are helpful to make sure our children meet external standards, however they are stressful to everyone!

My high schooler’s curriculum requires that I evaluate her work and send them quarterly marks and exam results.

To be completely honest, I have NEVER written any formal evaluations for my children.  I create a portfolio of all their work, include their book lists and the year plan.  I believe that their work speaks for them!

This year however, I will include their assessment forms in their year files.

(Please, I would like to reassure you that this kind of evaluation is not necessary.  I believe that we use what works for us and we try to do what is required of us by our government.  If you have not evaluated your children before, perhaps you could include the character form.  I believe that, “Information can always be learnt at any time, but character formation takes a lifetime!” )

You are welcome to download these forms for your own use ~

I have included MS Word versions of each document  for you to tweak them to suit your needs.

Homeschool Showcase

This post is featured on

Homeschool Showcase #63

at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Pop over to find other exciting homeschooling posts.

Blessings,