The end of the school year is upon us!
The calendar reads June, and the last projects are being turned in.
Are you as ready for summer vacation as our family is?! Phew!
So the big question is: How are you celebrating the end of the school year?
How are you celebrating all of the awesome things that happened this school year? How are you celebrating all the great growth and change (in your kids, and, yes, even in you!)?
Taking Time to Celebrate Growth
Even if it’s been an especially hard year, I promise you that there was growth. There was progress made, and lives were changed.
This is the time of year when we start torturing ourselves with the “did I do enough?” thoughts. We begin to play Monday-morning quarterback and say, “If we’d only… “ or “I should have…” or (insert your form of self-torture here).
It sure is easy to be on this end of all the enormous amount of work that goes into a school year and pass judgement on ourselves.
OK, maybe your year didn’t work out the way you’d designed in your lovely homeschooling planner.
Mine didn’t either (buying and selling a home, moving, and completely switching curriculum halfway through was not on my radar last August).
But what if what happened was even more glorious, more wonderful and more exciting than anything we’d planned? I truly believe it was.
I believe all those great plans were just what got us to the starting gate, and here—at what we’ve deemed the “imperfect” finish line—is where we can step back and recognize the real victories.
And, oh my goodness… it’s critical that we celebrate those victories (even the small ones) to first, encourage our kids to keep giving their best; and second, to remind us that yes, all of this hard, hard work is worth it and is making a difference!
Here are some small-but-big things that we’re celebrating at the end of the school year:
The Innovator (11):
—He finally embraced writing this year! And math! And science! And… (notice a theme here?). Yes, this was the year that he (finally) realized that I hadn’t invented school just to torture him, but that there was a method behind this madness. Oh, we still have our days where we have the “but why…?” questions; but they are getting fewer in number, and I’m seeing them replaced with a heart eager to learn. Phew. Finally!
—He began to take more responsibility with managing his own time, and with pacing himself through assignments. Another big victory! Now (most days) I can leave him alone for an hour or more and know that he is moving through his assignments without my prompting. Huge!
—He has made great strides in overcoming his fear of speaking in front of a group. We owe a lot of this to our Classical Conversations group since the kids had to do a mini-presentation each week at our class day. This was a really good stretching for him.
—He’s grown deeply in his faith. I’ve noticed that he’s quicker to repent, and that his repentance is deep and genuine. Just last week, He and I had an amazing experience of sharing encouraging verses with one another around the topic of forgiveness.
Renaissance Man (9):
—He too has become much more self-reliant and responsible, both in his schoolwork and in his chores. He’s really loving working outside with my husband doing yard projects or other around-the-house maintenance. He’s quick to help out, and excited to learn. What a wonderful husband he will be someday!
—I’ve seen Renaissance Man mature greatly this year. There were a few instances where I saw him step up and take leadership in team projects, making plans and delegating tasks.
—He basically taught himself cursive writing this year (he was very motivated to learn), and his handwriting is beautiful!
—He blew us all away with his memorization skills this year! He was always the first to memorize our weekly Classical Conversations memory work, and he’s remembered it week after week. He’s also become excellent at Bible memory work. So proud of him!
—School became a lot more formal for her this year, and she handled it beautifully. I was proud to see her jump right into the CC work and how she did a great job memorizing!
—Princessa learned how to read this year! She completed All About Reading Level 1 this year and while she still has room to grow here, I’ve seen her reading confidence level grow immeasurably.
—Her desire to serve and love Christ became more evident this year. She has a sweet and special relationship with Jesus and it was wonderful to watch her beautiful connection with God grow. I love how she is quick to pray for others, and that (even at her young age) she is not afraid to come to me with her tough questions about God.
—This little one is bold, daring and not afraid to try new things! She has proven over and over this year that, when she puts her mind to something, she can accomplish big things!
Three Ways You Can Celebrate the End of the School Year:
This is a really great tradition that the kids and I look forward to each year!
I take each child to a location that they would enjoy (a frozen yogurt place, coffeehouse, cupcake store, etc) and while we’re indulging in a fun treat, we talk about what the year was like. I lead the conversation with casual questions like “What was your favorite thing that we did this year?” or “Tell me something that you’d like to learn more about?” You can download my list of questions here. We also talk about what they’re most looking forward to this summer; and I help them identify what specific things they’d like to learn either this summer or next year.
If I have time, I also gather up their portfolio of work from the year (art projects, workbooks, notebooks, other projects) and we look at them again and recall learning about the material and doing the project.
Overall, I keep the conversation really positive and focus on the wonderful growth I’ve seen.
I also take notes on what they share because: one, I want to make sure I remember it; and two, I want them to know that their comments are important enough for me to write them down.
This time together is just precious because the kids feel special, honored and listened to; and I really do get some great feedback on what worked this past year, and what they’d like to change! Plan to Be Flexible talks more about these End-Of-The-Year Dates (as does this post) and gives ideas of how to incorporate these suggestions into next year’s teaching materials.
Celebration Day and Dinner.
This is something new we’re trying this year!
The End-Of-The-Year-Dates are great, but we also really wanted to have a time where my husband and I could stand up and publicly affirm each of our kids. We want this time to be about sharing the great character traits we see them developing; the ways they are a blessing to our family; and how much we love each of them for their individual talents and personalities.
We’re taking a two-part approach: first, we’re going to have a morning of pure fun (we’re taking them to a local indoor trampoline park!) and then we’re having a special dinner where they’ve chosen the menu (each one of them told me their favorite appetizer, dinner or dessert and I’ve combined them into one meal for all of us to share).
During or after dinner is when my husband and I will share our praises and pray for each of our kids individually. I also plan to put together a very simple slideshow of photos/videos from our field trips and projects.
Special Treat for Mom!
Oh yes. This is something that we must do, moms!
We think about doing end-of-the-year stuff for our kids, but we can’t forget to take the time to reward ourselves for all the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve invested in this school year! At first this may feel selfish, but it’s more than alright to give ourselves a pat on the back for the sometimes-really-difficult work of homeschooling!
This “special treat” will mean something different to all of us. Maybe for you it’s a pedicure, or a day off shopping by yourself. Maybe you decide to get together for dinner with several other homeschool moms and go to that great new restaurant that just opened nearby. Maybe you can even do a fun weekend away with some girlfriends. Or it might just be a great new pair of shoes!
To be honest, this is my first year of doing something specific for myself like this to celebrate school. I didn’t expect to do something this extravagant, but later this summer I have the opportunity to tag along on a 5-day business trip with my husband! So this is my way of celebrating!
Do what would feel rewarding and relaxing to you (and what fits in the budget)!
It doesn’t have to be a two-week-long trip to Tahiti (even though that’s probably what we all could really use right now). See what small thing you can come up with to tell yourself, “I worked super hard this year, and yes, it was enough.”
Tell us about your plans! How are you going to celebrate the end of the school year? Will you try any of these ideas, or do you have other ways that your family will celebrate?
About the author:
Alicia Kazsuk writes about living the beautifully imperfect homeschooling journey at VibrantHomeschooling.com. She has been married to her best friend for 14 years and together they spend their days lovingly guiding their four passionate and creative kids.
Alicia is also the author of Plan to Be Flexible and the creator/producer of Vibrant Homeschooling’s online video courses “bloom: A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms” and “rhythm: Guiding Your Family to Their Ideal Learning Flow.”
She believes each day offers new opportunities to grow in grace and to trust God in unexpected ways; and that “acceptance with joy” is one of the hidden secrets to a full, contented Christian life.
You can find her at Vibrant Homeschooling (http://vibranthomeschooling.com), as well as on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VibrantHomeschooling), Twitter (https://twitter.com/VibrantHmschool) and Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/VibrantHmschool/).