Friday, February 20, 2009

The Fifth Thing I Love About Home School--Progress!

I had my first meeting today with my ES to present proof of our “progress”. In the home school world, the ES or Education Specialist is the master teacher who oversees a group of home schooling families. She has accountability to make sure families are progressing towards their goals.

I have been nervously anticipating this meeting for a few weeks. Would we “measure up?” Or would we be sent back to our desks to redo our work? I spent about 3 hours last night reviewing and carefully selecting work samples from all our subject areas that would best represent my children’s progress. I packaged it up neatly, along with our attendance records and curriculum in preparation for the meeting.

The meeting went great. In fact, it was somewhat anticlimactic when I found out that the only person to see our work is our ES and that the samples I so thoughtfully selected basically sit in a storage facility awaiting future possible audit. Should there be one, I’ll volunteer to have my file reviewed, just so someone else can bear witness to our progress.

It turns out, the old “hold onto the paper for 7 years routine” applies to home school too. After being in business for myself for years, I could have purchased a mountain cabin in Aspen for what I have spent in storage space in order to comply with state and federally mandated “record keeping”. But I didn’t even care. It was sort of like life. I am enjoying the journey rather than the destination. These meetings are merely symbolic milestones for parents to measure progress. And reviewing our progress left me 100% certain that we have made the right choice for our family and children.

Learning at home is whatever you decide to make of it. And thanks to the efforts and participation of my children, we are getting a lot out of our homeschooling adventure. The level of learning is incredible. The flexibility is awesome! I keep a log of “projects” I want to do. The only thing lacking is the time to do them all. In the last 6 weeks, we have been able to do so much that we wouldn’t have if we were obligated to school. But that’s just where I want to be in my world right now, and I realize that we are all on different paths.

Here’s what I believe applies to all of us. No matter what our circumstances in life, we need to take time to measure and appreciate our progress. We also need to realize that just small, incremental improvements in a given area add up to tremendous improvements over time. Someone once said to me, “you don’t have to change everything overnight. In fact, you’ll be more successful in the long run at reaching your goals if you make small but consistent improvements.” You must remain committed to your outcome, because sometimes your progress will seem imperceptible. But then you’ll have a moment like I did yesterday, when you step back and take an objective look at what you’ve accomplished and think, “that’s pretty awesome!”

Enjoy your successes and share them often. Move confidently in the direction of your dreams, and don’t forget to celebrate your progress along the way!

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