As the end of the school year approaches and we are finishing some of our planned books, projects, and lessons, I try to honestly evaluate what we've done well, what we've done poorly, which things worked and which things didn't. I evaluate myself, the children, and the materials. I find that I have the same problem area as in previous years - my inability to watch my children struggle.
I cannot bear to watch my children struggle so I let them retreat or, worse still, I step in and over help them at the first sign of distress. Part of moving forward is stepping beyond your comfort zone, yet I find it difficult to let my children enter that learning place. My goal, each year, is to let the children struggle within a safe haven, yet, after 5 formal years of schooling I still wince when my six year old struggles with new words in her reading and my 10 years old battles with math.
I often worry that since the children are not attending a public or private school that I am not held to the daily public evaluation that occurs in the classroom. Yes, that daily public evaluation can be a terrible situation, but for those parents who care about the success of their children and who spend hours at night reteaching and tutoring their child beyond his comfort level, the public daily reckoning provides an impetus for learning. The child feels the urgency and frequently steps up to learn. In a homeschool environment there is much leniency in this area. No one is looking so the child and the parent relax. Obviously, relaxing has its benefits, too. But, I would like to create an urgency to learn without the stress of the public or private schools.
As I evaluate, I realize that much of this urgency could be created through formal goal setting procedures, especially if the goals were structured specifically and with completion dates. Doc wrote a good entry about goal setting complete with forms. In an attempt to gain sanity, I have recently been working with goal setting for work and home management and will find a way to incorporate it into my school in the fall.
Meanwhile, I will continue to struggle to find the balance between nurturing, protecting mother and goal oriented teacher. With a perfect balance, my children will gently achieve their heart's desire and I can feel content that they are prepared to competently and comfortably interact in whichever arenas they choose because of their well balanced education.