When it comes to giving gifts, I love to spend time truly finding that special thing for the person I’m buying for. Then, comes the wrapping. As much as I would love to decorate the paper myself and create these elaborate gifts, I know I don’t have the time or talent to do it in a way that I would find acceptable so what do I do? I find a paper I like and add a simple bow. Why add the bow? It’s simple and yet somehow it tells the receiver, “I care enough to go the extra step.” It gives an air of effort and care. It looks well done and put together. While appearances aren’t everything and don’t always mean what they show, effort, care and extra steps matter when taken intentionally.
What does all this talk of gifts have to do with homeschooling? Well, each year is a gift. Shouldn’t we end it well? Wrap it up so to speak? Here are five things we do to make sure that we are wrapping our year up well.
- Choose an End Date – who doesn’t love to have a date to look forward to? This year our boys know that we are going to be finished the Friday before we leave on vacation. Do we always tie our end of the year to vacation? Nope. This is the first year we have ever done that. Most years, we simply pick a date to call the end but we always pick it several weeks before the end. Why? This makes the end date tangible and settles the unknown. It gives us something to be looking and working toward.
- Keep Expectations Clear and Consistent – if you have always required neat handwriting or you’ve expected your child to work in a certain space or your child has cleaned up after himself all year, then keep that going. Don’t change the rules now. This is honestly where many professional teachers derail their classrooms and homeschoolers do the same. You’ve spent the year building rhythms. This is the time of year to let them work for you.
- Phase Out – Our years don’t come to an abrupt end. Instead, we phase down the amount of work we do just as we phase in during the beginning of the year. This phasing out process allows us to explore more, read aloud more, rest more and enjoy one another more, but we hold on to our core subjects longer than the little things. Our priorities take up more of our days and small pieces slip away so we can slowly ease into summer. Phasing out not only helps us end our year well but it also helps us begin our summer well because the boys are used to having a bit more unstructured time.
- Celebrate! – Find fun ways to celebrate. Finish a math curriculum? Bake cookies! Realize that now you can spell the 100 words that were your target words for the year? Throw a dance party! Write an entire essay including references without help? Call some friends and tie dye some fancy summer wear. Celebrate your way into summer. Find all the reasons to celebrate learning, knowledge and change.
- Enjoy – Quit stressing about finishing all the books and enjoy one another. The end of each year can feel like a sprint as you try to cram in the last several units of math or the end of the history book, but when I look back, those things don’t really matter. Instead, I’d rather us enjoy one another and the process. We can always pick up where we stopped and if you aren’t continuing to homeschool, chances are those last few things aren’t going to make or break your kiddos in the long run. Former public school teacher confession here – we didn’t always finish all of the units in our curriculum either. Though we usually finished most of them, a straggler or two wasn’t uncommon either.
Wrapping up the school year shouldn’t be hard. It should be scary. Pick a date and keep is smart. Keep it simple.