The last week started off wonderful. After our wonderful relaxing time at the park, we went to bed with the news that a friend of ours got engaged. We were, of course, very excited for him. When we first met him, he was in college. During the years he was in college we got to know him fairly well and always enjoyed his company. He has since left town and is working. We have had the opportunity to talk to him occasionally since then and we are impressed at how much he has grown since we first met him. Yes, I know, years and experience will do that to a person, but there is also the influence of everyone around you as well. I felt that, or perhaps it was just that I hoped that, we had some small part in this growth.
I then got to thinking about my own children. Parents are always wanting to do the right thing, to raise the best children, to instill all the good middos. The question is are we doing it? I have been busy working on our new school schedule this week. It is a great time to think about the direction we are all heading and what needs to change. I do not think it is a coincidence that the new school year happens to be at the same time Rosh Hashanah is. (Well, not including exceptions such as South Africa and Australia!)
Three days of work and I think I have a fairly good schedule. I believe I have learned stuff myself and have learned that even though technically we can get everything done by a certain time, life happens and it will not work. I have remembered to put extra time in between each subject to leave room for boys not working like robots and taking a bit of time to find their stuff that is in their drawers, as well as to leave time for a certain 3 year old who demands attention at seemingly the “wrong” time, which really is not the wrong time, it is just that is his way of reminding me that I have forgotten about him, or so he thinks.
Aside from schedules, I also am in the yearly process of trying to rearrange our school area to make it the best it can. Someone on one of my email lists sent a photo of their area – a 4×4 Ikea cubicle. That way it makes things easy to organize. We cannot purchase anything at the moment, so I’m trying to make my 3-shelf cabinet work very similar. Each boy has a shelf for their books. On top, I have drawers for things such as paints, pencils, erasers, and other non-book type items.
All that was the easy part. The harder part is looking back at what worked for each child, and what did not. How did I handle each child? I definitely learned a lot this past year. I too have grown. How do I handle my three year old when he needs attention? I have made sure I incorporated extra time in between subjects. I have also included time where a brother gets to play with him and keep him occupied. How do I handle an older brother who can get difficult? I have found out that he also craves One-on-One attention. That might sound funny to a homeschool parent who teaches each child separately to begin with, but it is so much more that meets the eye. This child functions so much better and is a lot easier to teach when no one is in the room, or at least not moving (i.e. reading a book by himself and not talking.) Math is best done after everyone is finished and I can give him my 100% attention and not be interrupted by others. Giving extra chores when the wrong behavior is exhibited I found is a good end to many tantrums and keeps me calm.
It is also a time to look at the direction that each of us is taking. We have made several changes throughout the year on how we run our daily lives (outside of school,) in order to try to steer our children along the right path. When we see a negative trait peeking through too much, we have tried to correct it. However, a new school year is also a good time for new road markers for the boys seem more readily accepting, or rather less suspicious (and therefore less arguing about our new rules), when we can find an excuse to incorporate the new road markers in with a new school year.
The introspection does not stop here. Amid all of the work I am doing for our boys and our new school year, I also need to find a few moments to look at myself. Am I the best parent, the best teacher, the best wife, and the best friend that I can be? Yes, I have already done part of it by following the steps above, but there is more to do. I have to work hard on being the best me I can be so that, IY”H, our children can be the best they can be.