Reflection and planning

Published by Lori Pickert on January 1, 2010 at 04:44 PM

There’s nothing to reinforce the values of reflection and planning like the one-two punch of the holidays and the new year.

In November and December, we gather together with our loved ones and eat a lot of pie while simultaneously justifying every education and life decision we’ve made for our children. Aunt Edna wants to know why they’re not in organized sports, Grandpa Bill is loudly quizzing them on their times tables over turkey and stuffing, and your best friend from high school knows a really sad story about a homeschooled boy who just fell apart when he tried to attend public high school but she’s sure your kids will be fine.

Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backward and in high heels. Sacajawea made the same journey as Louis and Clark, but pregnant and then carrying a baby. (My 7-year-old told me that one.) (I was very proud.) Our knee-jerk reaction to all this familial interest/challenge can easily cause us to lose our focus as we prepare for battle. When we’re poked and pressured to show we’re doing as well as, we resolve instead to prove that we’re better.

Early November would be a great time to pull out your journal and reflect on everything your children accomplished in the previous year. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you’d be feeling great and focused on your children and what they are really doing and how much great work is still ahead — rather than caught unprepared with a forkful of mashed potatoes and a swiftly blooming defensive attitude. Perhaps you could share your good feelings without slipsliding into justification.

We come home from the holidays and put away the decorations, and it’s impossible to avoid the thundering sound of a new year rolling in. Whether you are someone who revels in fresh starts and setting new goals or someone who is bah humbug about resolutions, there is no denying that sense of newness and possibility.

Coming straight off all those holiday conversations about what we’re doing and why, we should be well prepared to review our goals and set our plans for the upcoming year. After all, what are we doing? And why?

Your family and friends very helpfully put you through your explaining and defending paces. Maybe you felt a little caught off-guard or a little less than perfectly articulate when you tried to express your family’s values, your goals, your thoughts about education and life. If so, then now is your chance to think those things over very deliberately.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about goals.

What are you doing? And why?

15 comments

Comment by Jessica on January 1, 2010 at 07:17 PM

I distinctly remember being "caught off guard" and "a little less than perfectly articulate" at a family Christmas gathering two years ago. My cousin and his wife bombarded us with the socialization question when we suggested we were going to homeschool Benjamin through high school. As I halfheartedly tried to defend my position, my cousin became absolutely belligerent.

Ben was only 3 at the time. His older cousins (the children of the ones who were berating us) were tearing through the room, throwing toys and acting like unruly animals. I remember their son carrying a vinyl dinosaur across the room to ask his daddy which one it was...to which, my cousin replied, "I don't know." Benjamin said, "It's a stegosaurus." My cousin chortled and mocked his own son for not knowing the name of the dinosaur and then he went back to trying to "one up" us and exert his social status, etc.

It was very odd. You know, those people are my family. Family should be one's foundation--they should support you unconditionally, right?

This year--because I just finished up chemotherapy--we did not gather with the masses. It was the most peaceful holiday yet! :)

This is a wonderful post, Lori. I'll be stopping back often as I prepare for Benjamin's first year of Kindergarten (2010-2011). Happy New Year...

~Jessica

Comment by Cristina on January 1, 2010 at 07:33 PM

Right now, I am simply thankful for another year with my children and all the ups and downs that make life so interesting. :o)

Good to see a post from you, Lori! Happy New Year!

Peace and Laughter,
Cristina

Comment by amy on January 1, 2010 at 08:48 PM

I've missed this blog, Lori!!

Comment by Lynn on January 1, 2010 at 10:39 PM

Oh, so glad to "see" you, my friend! Lovely post, as always. I'm fortunate: all of the grandparents (three of the four of whom are retired schoolteachers) think we're doing great. It's those peripheral relatives who pop up and push the buttons. But by now most of them are piping down; they see that my 11-year-old is well-adjusted, gets out among peers (via band and soccer, activities HE initiated, not us) and managed to win the local spelling bee (so he can't be TOO much of a backward disaster - ha!). I guess now they'll have to (over)focus on my twirly-skirt-wearing four-year-old (son)!

(HAPPIEST YEAR EVER to you and yours!)

Comment by Sally on January 1, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Amen! Every year I remind my family and friends to please not quiz my kids. I tell them, my kids hate being put on the spot and compared to schooled cousins and friends. And, if these well meaning folks aren't willing to interrogate the school-aged kids, mine are off limits.

That said, my kids will happily tell them what they are discovering if left to their own devices--because my children have a genuine interest in what they are learning.

Great post. Glad to see you writing.

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 1, 2010 at 10:47 PM

jessica, congratulations on finishing chemo — i hope you are feeling well!

lol re: most peaceful holiday yet … ;)

even when you feel absolutely sure about what you are doing (and no one feels 100% sure every day), you can still be caught unprepared and sputtering by a neighbor in the grocery store who says something provoking. ah well, practice makes perfect — and we certainly get lots of practice. ;)

cristina, me too :) and thank you!

thank you so much, amy — i was a sporadic blogger in ’09 while i prioritized some other projects, but i’ll be blogging regularly in ’10 — at least, that’s the plan. ;) thank you again!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 1, 2010 at 10:54 PM

lynn, thank you so much! :^)

it‘s wonderful you have supportive parents … ah, but there is always someone who has to poke and prod, isn’t there. ;^) whether it’s family or friends or neighbors … let’s face it, even other homeschoolers can needle us!

best wishes for the new year for your beautiful family! :^)

sally, i saw you talking to me on your blog the other day … lol ;^) i hope my posting makes you happy! ;^)

lovely point about how the children will share what they are doing if they are given the opportunity!

Comment by Sally on January 2, 2010 at 12:23 AM

Very happy. Looking forward to more. Happy New Year!

Comment by estea on January 2, 2010 at 02:47 AM

i am glad the holidays - and the aughts - are over.

and that you are back and full of new material for '10!

Comment by Sherry on January 2, 2010 at 04:24 AM

I was so excited when I saw you in my reader!

Happy New Year, Lori--so glad to hear you're planning to blog more regularly again. :)

Comment by Sarah Jackson on January 2, 2010 at 04:27 AM

We escaped family prodding and prying by spending Christmas by ourselves. I prefer it that way!

We are in the middle of goal setting for the year. Gunnar is now feeling ready to take the reins on what he wants to learn and how, which is a very good thing for both of us - I'm excited to see where he goes this year. Annika is narrowing down her interests to a manageable level for us. Together, we're learning to weave on her new loom. She wants to write poetry, learn multiplication and more fractions, and explore evolution. Both are learning French.

This will be quite a spring for us, since there's a new baby sister due at the end of March. There's been a lot of learning about fetal development, that will continue into learning all about babies. Fun stuff!

Glad you're back, Lori. I've missed you.

Comment by Kellyi on January 2, 2010 at 09:36 AM

Good to hear from you.

I am blessed with a family who don't quiz me or the children, aside from the occasional "are you happy?" They can see that we are, as it's beaming from each and every one of us, but it's nice to be asked :)

Our new year plan (decided by children and parents together) is to learn more abou the planet. We're kicking off with a month long look at the weather, each child has a weather journal and a whole range of ways to record their thoughts and findings. We start on the 4th and I am really looking forward to it!

Comment by Kristine on January 2, 2010 at 12:26 PM

It's funny how some topics are off limits. You wouldn't necessary tell someone who changed jobs or took a holiday somewhere different your opinion. Yet how you decided to parent or educate your child(ren) is open for comment. I got a good one the other day, I was told that it's a shame my daughter (recently turned 3) is "staying home" for another year as I won't be able to "stimulate" her.
Glad to read a new post!

Comment by Sophia on January 4, 2010 at 01:35 AM

So glad to see you posting again! I'm very encouraged for this new year because my son is old enough to work along side my daughter and I love seeing both of their perspectives on a subject. But the best part is how they are starting to see each other as friends and how they encourage each other in little ways. I'm looking forward to more of this!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 5, 2010 at 08:00 PM

thank you, sally! i hope 2010 is a great year for you, too. ;^) xo

thank you, estea. :^) i can hardly believe the aughts are over. i started my school in 2000. we did a lot of living the past ten years!

sherry, thank you so much!! :^) and happy new year to you & your family!

sarah, what a great hands-on project. ;^) it sounds like you guys are doing really well. it’ll be an exciting year for you all with the new sibling coming. :^)

kelly, that sounds great — i hope i get to peek into your journals!

kristine, so true. my slender mother has pointed out that while you would never walk up to someone and tell them they’re too fat, people feel free to walk up and tell her she’s “too skinny”!

lol re: your just-turned 3yo having to stay home another year — what a burden! and *however* will you stimulate her? ;^) i suppose some people are projecting their own feelings about staying home with a toddler/preschool-age child. *so* many people tell me they can’t imagine homeschooling their kids (and before that they told me their couldn’t imagine working with their spouse) … it always just puzzles me a bit. and makes me feel lucky. :^)

thank you, sophia! ah, how wonderful that your son and daughter can start working together … and that you can watch them cooperate and encourage one another. you have so much to look forward to. :^)

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