The new school year begins this month Australia wide. As in years past I’m joining up with a band of Aussie families for four weeks of ‘not back to school‘ blogging chat hosted Kylie at Our World Wide Classroom. Over the next few weeks we will chat about a variety of topics relating to the upcoming year, each family bringing their unique perspectives. Kicking off this year’s Not Back To School roundup with our ‘Hopes, Dreams and Goals for Our Year Ahead’.
As a long term home educating family we have many goals for our children; personal and spiritual as well as academic, the holistic person. Academically our overarching goals never change, ultimately we’re working towards wanting our children to be thinkers, to make connections with what they learn, to articulate well both through the spoken and written word, to build strong foundations, to have a broad general knowledge base whilst connecting more deeply in some areas. Our goals for our children each year not only include academics but our hopes for them as a whole person. We strive to instill in them strong ethics and morals, the need to treat others with respect and compassion, to have a solid sense of self worth, to learn how to be resilient and to be strongly bonded to one another and us as their parents, to strengthen their relationship with Our Lord and grow in their Faith. An area we are constantly bringing to the children’s attention is the need to develop and maintain healthy habits in all areas including; health, exercise, personal hygiene, screen time usage, sleeping patterns, prayer life… the list goes on. The more I observe young adults the more importance the need for healthy habits gains in my mind.
Our new school year officially begins next week and so last week I began planning in earnest, as part of our planning I met individually with each of our children for their input in planning for the new year and assessing the old. Involving our children in being active participants in planning their education has been part of our education approach for many years, each child is sufficiently self aware to know and articulate their strengths and weaknesses, to reflect upon their goals for their own education. This involvement stems from a belief that if the children are on board with the goals, the big picture and the nitty gritty, if they are invested they are more likely to co-operate, after all ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink’, a child needs to be open to learning for deep learning to occur. These meetings are always enlightening and heartening as I listen to each child reflect upon their goals, from the youngest to the oldest and share what skills they wish to learn in the upcoming year. “I want to learn how to read, I want to be a strong reader, I want to be a better speller, I want to have better handwriting, I want to speak Spanish well, I want to be better at maths,” each child clearly knew what they wanted and whilst the majority focused on their weak areas, the maths request was from a maths lover who is gifted and passionate about maths. We then moved from discussing skills to knowledge, whilst each child has their interest areas and their personal preference would be to only research within those areas, they understand and accept that to receive a balanced education they simply must read in areas not always of their choosing. The older a child is the easier it is to appeal to their common sense and practicality. Discussions about knowledge with each child began with their choice of focus within their favourite subjects and we then settled on an approach for the other ‘must learn to receive a balanced education’ subjects.
The last few years have seen a strong emphasis on fundamentals and whilst I see this as essential, more than I realised over a decade ago in the first years of our home education journey, I’d love this to be the year we rediscover our delight in learning. Not to say there isn’t delight to be found in mastering the fundamentals for there is. However life over the past several years has included a variety of challenges and somewhere along the way we’ve exchanged delight for humdrum, I want that sense of wonder back. For a few years now I’ve longed for delight to return, due to some changes in our life I’m feeling hopeful that this indeed may be the year we manage to kindle the flames of wonder anew and rediscover our delight in learning.
What about you, what are your hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead?
Feel free to join in the Aussie ‘not back to school’ blog hop.
Read our past Not Back To School blog hops.
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