- How is your child growing today?
- How is he or she doing academically with the interruptions of last semester and adjusted school schedule for 2020-2021?
- How are things at home with family relationships?
- Are the days full of outdoor play, reading books that grow the mind and participating in activities that expand skills?
- Do you take walks with your child? Is this summer an opportunity to dive into new and interesting activities?
- Are you observing how your child is growing or not growing?
- Are there remedial areas that could be addressed with these larger windows of time?
- Is your child expanding in a gifted discipline?
- Are friendships growing in healthy ways?
Today is a great time to contemplate your child’s future. Due to the on-going concerns about COVID, many of the local schools have announced a schedule that offers half of the week in a traditional setting and half or more of the week at home. This time at home would be for homework or free time.
For proactive, intentional parents this is an opportunity for growth. Knowing your child as only as a parent can allows you the unprecedented freedom to custom build your child’s immediate future.
The first step requires an honest assessment of your child’s strengths and weaknesses in all areas. Next, determine to be hands on in the growth of all parts of your child. Know the whole child. Lastly, now is the time to love your child well by aggressively planning this next season. Let’s start with a time of evaluation. You are the best man or woman for this job! No one loves your child as much as you love him or her.
Assessing Your Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses
When the season changes, the schedule usually changes. It is the perfect time to think and pray about the child or children in your home. Careful consideration of strengths and weaknesses offers motivation to make adjustments. Effective planning involves assessment by both observing behavior and evaluating written testing. As a parent, you likely observe your child’s strengths and weaknesses in academics and in other areas such as church and serving opportunities. Your strongest qualities are likely your greatest weaknesses. Knowing this is both encouraging and disheartening.
So often we are reactive, this is an invitation to being proactive.
Annual testing aids the knowledge of my students’ academic standing which adds to my observations. Let me mention here that looking through testing results requires pensive effort. For example, say your student scores poorly in grammar. Noticing that the student missed only seven of the twenty questions that make up this part of the test may bring more clarity. Perhaps a yearly or biannual extensive evaluation best benefits both student and parent. The student’s daily or weekly work may challenge this deficit. Use your common sense. Standardized testing is overrated. Trust your gut while also looking at known facts. Read what your child is writing. Ask your child to copy down what you say. Instruct your child to copy from printed material or a board in front of their writing space. This frequent activity known as copywork is important to identify gaps and progress. Parents who actively direct this activity notice skill or gaps. Consider asking your student to copy Bible verses onto their verse cards or sections of a favorite book they are reading.
The below section outlines how I look at my kids twice a year to see if all is tracking along with God’s best for our children. Ted Tripp’s “Shepherding Your Child’s Heart”, which I read once a year as a refresher, inspired some of these ideas. Before I had kids, I diligently used my Franklin Covey planner to assess myself in a variety of areas such as these. When I became a mom, I thought that looking through to the big picture frequently might aid me in doing the day-to-day tasks more meaningfully with my children as well.
Locate a place for intentional planning for your student. If you are married, include your spouse in this purposeful goal setting. Remember, your child is unique. Your planning will be distinctive for your child. Take a few days to consider each area of your child. This brainstorming stays in my planner behind one of my tabs. You might purchase a lined journal that is just for planning each season for your kids. To give you an idea of how it might play out , here are some notes from my planning pages a few years ago. Each page in the back of my planner goes something like this:
Joseph: Elementary Student, Age Ten, Entering Fifth Grade
English—Language 6 (Abeka), Spelling 6 (Abeka)
Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) writing class using the theme-based books for three years (fourth grade through seventh grade)
Literature books from Sonlight and Veritas Press
Math—Math 5 (Abeka), Abeka, assorted math games, speed drills
History—Reading book one of Mystery of History, audiobooks, books from Sonlight and Veritas Press catalogs. (Remember that he is child number five, so he has a large collection of resources to select from in our family library.)
Science—Zoology II (Apologia) and anatomy along with a wide variety of other science books. One of our favorites this month is the Usborne Science Encyclopedia. Remember, this child loves to read!
Writing Bible verses in personal journal in the morning
Family Bible time
AWANA Bible quiz competition in February
Apologetics for NCFCA
Service opportunities (helping sister teach three-year-olds, car care for widows and elderly at church)
Recreational sports—Basketball, baseball, soccer
Golf with Dad
Learning to cook
Eating smart—Selecting foods that nourish
Mikayla: High-School Student, Age Fourteen, Entering Ninth Grade
English—Literature, grammar, vocabulary/spelling
History—World history (Omnibus II & world geography notebook)
Music—Flute and piano
Family time on prayer and names of God
Sunday’s activities and times for serving others
Service opportunities—AWANA or preschool Sunday-school class
Discussing nutrients, diet
Growth spurt currently
Swimming—Water safety instructor (WSI)
Driver’s permit in December
New, sharp friends
Contributions around the house, such as learning to clean and maintain family space, cars, and personal space (bedroom)
Personalize a plan for yourself and each of your children. Plan a location to keep your thoughts. Once you have prayed through these plans for your children, act to make them a reality.
The future is full of possibilities.
Excerpt from Nurturing My Nest: Intentional Homebuilding and Custombuilt Homeschooling, a valuable resource available on Amazon.