Launch a Successful School Year!

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Hey there! It’s Onalee again at Yellow Wood! I hope you’ve had a fantastic start to your school year.

You’ve spent hours pouring over curriculum, and made the purchase for the year of a lifetime!  You have worked hard to dust, sweep and disinfect that school room/area. You have trudged through stores with children in tow pouring over and grabbing just the right tools for this year.  Now, you are ready for the best homeschooling year ever! Or are you? (Cue cheesy music here)

These steps are certainly a great place to start and a fabulous way to start moving everyone involved into the mood of getting started with school.  I would not skip any of them! I would add that intentional planning for the completion of curriculum along with a growth mindset are a critical steps that will help you get launched firmly into a track of success!  

I love the curriculum, and the purchase, but the planning, well, it is not as much fun.  I have found, though, if you begin to plan, even loosely, you are setting up a framework for success that cannot be beat!  I have also found that if I planned too closely, I would find my family in an endless string of doctor visits for various reasons.  This would put us so far off track, that I felt defeated and unable to “find my groove.” So, I started planning, but loosely. This helped me avoid feelings of failure, and we always had our “groove” on because we were hitting the goals more steadily.  Here are the steps I followed to plan without going crazy!

Daily Goals

I set daily things we needed to do, first.  Daily goals are important and give us direction and guidance for the smaller tasks that need to get done, well, daily.  I found using a planning system like Yellow Wood’s Assignment Planner worked really well for us. Next, I would set a weekly goal and a monthly goal, that consisted of a number of lessons we needed to complete/subject each week, and each month.  Hitting any of the goals was fine, hitting all was a cause for a celebration day (think visit to the park/museum and movie/game night complete with ice cream)!

When I did this, I had our days planned, but if we didn’t make it to the end of that list, we shifted incomplete assignments over to the next day and tried to hit the weekly goal (a number of lessons we needed to finish for the week).  Sometimes the week would go wild! So, again, we shifted incomplete assignments so the next week was realistic, but held the original and now incomplete assignments in it. Remember that I had a number of lessons we needed to hit for the month?  At this point, that became our new goal!

What if I miss a goal?

In the moments of a goal not hit, I taught my children the mantras “I think I can,” “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and “we do because we can, we can because we do!”  This shifted the importance from missing that goal, to a regrouping towards hitting the next goal. In allowing for more than one goal to be hit, I left room for success and a growth mindset that led to a “can do” learning moment for everyone!

Celebrate your small wins!

One last thing, make sure you are ready to celebrate the little successes.  This does not necessarily mean you need a prize for every sentence written, or word read.  A shower of bubbles never hurt, though. Also, the Yellow Wood Assignment planner does leave room for you to circle an honest evaluation that celebrates all levels of student work.  In order to add to that, and help to create the growth mindset even more fully, I would review the work completed at lunch (sometimes these smaller checkpoints allow us to see how we are doing and adjust to finish strong), and celebrate with a high five, and an “I am proud” statement.  If things are not rocking, after I celebrate the wins, I would ask how we could plan to be even more successful after lunch. Having your child engage in this kind of thinking allows them to see that they did do some good things, and they can do more - they just need a plan to do so. In this mindset, they can grow in their achievements.