This Friday, May 20, Apologia Live author & speaker, Zan Tyler will host a session at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Schoolhouse Expo from 6:30-7:30 pm ET. If you are unable to attend, you can catch the recorded version via the Expo To Go option offered by TOS. Check out Zan's article below. She shares some advice for getting through the month of May as many of us wind down another homeschool year.
Celebrating Motherhood, Big Events, and Summer Vacation
By Zan Tyler
How was your Mother’s Day this year? For me, Mother’s Days are like birthdays: some come and go with little fanfare, there are a few I would like to forget, and others become a memory I will cherish forever.
My first Mother’s Day in 1978 fell in the cherish-forever category. Author Sarah Ban Breathnach said, "The new mother holding her first miracle enjoys the best Mother’s Day." I celebrated my first Mother’s Day in the hospital, holding that first miracle, just two days old. I have been celebrating motherhood and family life ever since.
Fast forward to Mother’s Day 1993, which I remember for an entirely different reason. We had just moved to the country, and our new home included access to a nearby pond. My sons were 14 and 12 and my daughter was 5 (too young to know better). That year my husband and children gave me portable fishing chairs for my Mother’s Day present. I remember them vividly because I hate fishing! The thought of Joe, Ty, and John seriously trying to convince me why I would really love not one, but three, fishing chairs still makes me laugh out loud. (Hmmm … three of them, three chairs. What an odd coincidence.) They knew they could get away with it, though, because they also gave me what I reallywanted — handwritten letters assuring me of their undying love and constant affection.
Fourteen years later, I celebrated my last Mother’s Day with my own precious mother, who is now with the Lord. What a bittersweet memory that is. This year, Mother’s Day weekend witnessed my daughter graduating from college in Kentucky and my son graduating from law school in Virginia — on the same day!
Speaking of memorable days and big events…
How many big events can one month host? In addition to Mother’s Day, May is famous for graduations, baseball tournaments, swim meets, music recitals, soccer playoffs, dance recitals, state homeschool conventions — the list goes on ad infinitum. Homeschooling parents have the added pressure of trying to finish the school year in the midst of all this craziness.
How can you make it through May and keep your sanity?
- Remember to celebrate and give thanks. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day to be a time of "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." It is a good reminder to stop, and in the midst of our bustling lives, take time to reflect upon and celebrate the important and often intangible aspects of life. We don’t have to relegate this to one day a year: as Christians we should set aside time daily (even in the midst of May’s busyness) to spend with God — reading His Word, celebrating His goodness to us in Christ, casting our cares upon Him, and giving Him thanks in all things. Celebration and thankfulness have a way of transforming our attitudes and helping us focus on the important rather than the urgent.
- Remember to remember. Journaling helps you recall things (like Mother’s Day celebrations) that you think you will always remember, but promptly forget. Journaling also helps put life in perspective. It allows you to chronicle and reflect on the significant and mundane, noting God’s faithfulness in the midst of both. And you don’t have to journal every day or even every week to benefit from it.
- Remember that summer is just around the corner. At some point during most of my 21 years homeschooling, I counted the days to summer vacation. Some of my homeschooling friends kept right on with their normal schedules through June — how I admired them! But I needed a break and my kids did, too.
I used the summer months to plan, rejuvenate, and see just how creatively we could document school days. We enjoyed reading days and zoo days. The kids participated in sports camps, art and music camps, nature camps, Christian camps and mission trips (obviously not all in the same summer). Family vacations to the beach and the mountains provided powerful learning opportunities with a host of field trips and field studies at your finger tips. (Take your Apologia elementary science books with you! They’re fun and can help you make the most of your nature studies.)
As the kids got older they pursued serious interests through summer camps and courses offered by colleges like Patrick Henry and organizations like Summit Ministries and Deerfoot Lodge—just to name a few. Summer is also a great time for you and your children to work on service projects together.
In all these pursuits, remember to document your time spent in learning experiences. Summer is made for hands-on learning, traveling and exploring, and innovative educational experiences of all types.
Build in time this summer for planning and evaluation.
Make sure to set aside some planning days for the new school year. (Mark them on your calendar now so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.) Summer gives you a chance to evaluate what was good and not-so-good about this past school year. Celebrate and thank the Lord for the things that went well — Sarah’s math skills improved significantly; Johnny transitioned well into seventh-grade science; Liz began (voluntarily) having her own quiet times every morning; and Peter made great headway in controlling his temper.
Don’t be afraid to admit some areas didn’t go as well as you would have liked. Make a list of those things, commit them to the Lord and to prayer, and seek ways to shore them up for next year. Remember there is no perfect classroom anywhere. Every teacher has strengths and weaknesses. You don’t have to stop homeschooling because you are less than perfect, your son’s math scores need help, or your six-year-old (who should have known better) threw a temper tantrum in the grocery store. Search for solutions to enhance your next school year and make your load more manageable.
Apologia is here to help!
At Apologia, we are always looking for ways to support, encourage, and equip you for your homeschooling journey — and lighten your load where possible. Our K-12 science curriculum is engaging, challenging, God-honoring, and needs no teacher’s manuals (yay!). But if you feel you need help with teaching science at the middle- and high school level, consider signing up for one of our online ApologiaAcademy courses. Many parents and students listen to these lectures together.
Later this summer (and on into the fall) ApologiaPress is releasing a number of books that will encourage you in homeschooling and help you with your planning and teaching. Debra Bell’s Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling will help you choose curriculum while addressing many of your other needs and questions. Sarah Clarkson’s book Read for the Heart will help you foster a love for reading in your children and give you guidelines for choosing engaging books. Dr. Jay Wile’s Reasonable Faith (available now) makes great summer reading for your teenager.
Stay tuned to our website for official release dates of the new ApologiaPress resources and to discover great authors and resources that are currently available.
Have a wonderful May and a delightful summer!
Author of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential