Attending 2 different large, public universities, I only sat in an advisor’s office once or twice, but I remember feeling like he was the holder of the keys to the doors I wanted to walk through. I’ll never forget the times when I explained my situation and my desires and the advisor was able to pull strings – getting me into a class that I couldn’t have gotten into otherwise.
In college, it’s common to have to plan your own schedule, and it isn’t easy to do so.
Navigating the process of designing a semester requires understanding block schedules, mapping out campuses and building locations, highlighting courses for majors, minors, and general education.
There were those brilliant moments when a general education course overlapped with a major requirement and it felt like I heard angels singing.
As with everything in life, timing matters. If you’re a freshmen, then you don’t get to choose first. And by the time it is your turn to choose – usually all the good classes are taken.
You need a plan B, C, and sometimes even plan D.
I felt like I needed to be excellent at so many things at once – big picture, small detail, timing events, cause and effect. I never looked forward to navigating plans for scheduling a new semester.
Sometimes it felt too difficult to figure it all out on my own.
So, meeting with the advisor felt so important – sort of like meeting with a counselor and magician. He would ask questions about my goals, career path, and then he could wave his wand and my semester would be perfect.
The first few years of home schooling for me felt like I was a freshmen in college again.
Scheduling our first year of home school was like my first semester in college without an advisor, just as important and just as hard.
But as I’ve grown into my role as mom, Ive become an advisor to my kids – navigating their schedule with them and for them. It has proven rewarding.
Viewing myself as my children’s advisor, I help them wade through all the wonderful skills, classes, extracurriculars, and subjects – hoping for that “perfect semester” – heavy on the majors with a manageable workload. It’s exciting and daunting to hold the keys to the doors they want to walk through.
Planning for a successful semester requires more than just for managing their schedules, as their advisor I can see what their interests are and help them choose their focus to best equip them for the person they want to be.
This is home schooling at the core – a tutorial education – one designed to fit the single individual.
As my children’s advisor, I can direct their learning to fit their design.
And this is the best part – I have a front row seat to the miracle that is education – not one “given” to them, but the only true education – the love of learning.
I am able to see the moment when they reach out and take it, and this moment makes all the planning and preparing, the long hours of research and prayer, worth the effort. Because I’m passing on to them the most valuable gift – wisdom. As this Proverb says.
So, before each new year or any new program, we have a “meeting with the advisor.”
I carefully explain that our conversation is going to feel big and warn that we won’t be able to do everything we talk about now. Sometimes it takes multiple “meetings” to get all the information I want in order to move forward with my research, and sometimes their mood just isn’t right for the questions even though the timing seems perfect.
I’ve learned to wait, to table the conversation until they are in a more open state of mind. Often these questions are best answered while running errands. Whenever I have the chance to just take one child with me to the store, I break out my mental list of advisory questions.
I ask them questions like:
- What subjects interest you most? Least?
- What books interest you most?
- What is the most fun thing to do right now?
- If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
- What have you felt good at lately?
- Have you felt embarrassed by not knowing something? Or by a skill that is hard?
- What friends do you want to know better?
- Are there any friends that make you feel uncomfortable?
- What do you think you would like to do when you grow up?
- Is there anything at home that you want me to do with you?
- What’s the easiest chore at home? What’s the hardest?
Knowing my children is the first and most important part of guiding them. Taking this time to invest in knowing who they are, how they process, and what they want has paid off in not only their education but also in our relationship.
It goes back to the fact that we are all home schooled. The home is the foundation of who we are and who we will become.
So for today in the #Back2School in #31Days series, my challenge was to take the time to ask and review these questions for my school age kids. Then to think and pray about the resources, activities, routines, and recreation that will best equip them to live into their unique design.
These advisory meetings need to be ongoing, with goals and schedules set for specific periods of time (preferably quarterly for younger children).
How I use the answers:
- We will be using a unit study curriculum this year, and I can tailor the information we study to their interests to some extent while still satisfying our state requirements.
- Stay involved in their pleasure reading by recording the books read, rewarding for reading (by buying more books), and getting excited about the books they are interested in.
- Schedule lots of margin time for the free play they enjoy most. Currently: golfing, roller blading, hunting for treasure through boxes in the garage (heaven help me), and simply swinging.
- Encourage new skills by researching what is needed, buying what is necessary, and teaching responsibility. For the writer, that means buying lots of notebooks and pens and then training her to take care of these items.
- Praise and notice what they are trying to become better at – “great chip,” “that’s a great cursive ‘o’,” and so on. They need encouragement in everything, but especially in what they want to be good at.
- Protect their embarrassment by honoring them as a person who is growing and learning. Reminding them that we all make mistakes and accidents don’t mark our character. Showing them that it is important to challenge ourselves to learn and grow in weak areas too, but confidence doesn’t come from what we do but who (or rather whose) we are.
- Know the families of their friends and be on the hunt for good friends.
- Teach self-protection skills to help them avoid hurtful or harmful relationships. It’s important for them to know how to walk away and how to say no.
- Expose them to the careers they are interested in and roughly sketch what it takes to enter that field. If the interest is consistent, then begin to design small steps toward this field.
- Join them in their everyday life stuff. This is a hard one for me because I’m not very good at play, but it’s important for me to do one thing with them. Not everything, just one thing – to be fully engaged and interested in them. This teaches that what they like is important to me too.
- Model good chore behavior. Grow in increments, requiring that they learn what it takes to maintain an orderly home.
These answers don’t point to academics much, I know. At this point, I believe growth in academics flows from being known and loved. I don’t want to put the minors before the majors.
This is Day 20 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.
My inspiration for this post and other helpful articles:
- Navigating the path ahead :: How Jamie from SimpleHomeschool.net plans for learning in her home. I like her actionable points on what to do once you’ve asked your questions.
- Making goals for a new school year is sort of like taking an inventory :: Here’s another post by Jamie :: The 6 Month Inventory
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Homeschool Conference :: This one is so that someone else recommends that you attend the GHC and not just me. Attending conferences is easily my number one way to continue my education and fuel me for the year of teaching ahead.
- Flinging Wide the Doors of Learning: Why I’m Forgetting About Results as I Teach My Kids :: This post on the Modern Mrs. Darcy was written by Sarah McKenzie. She shares her aha! moment on how setting home school goals that focus on outcomes is a fatal mistake.
- I’ve been inspired by a friend of mine who has committed to using this planner, and I think I’m going to own up to my limits (time, space, knowledge) and buy it for myself. Even if I still continue to Bullet Journal for my primary planner, I know I need the helps and guides included in The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.
- Again, Teaching From Rest. Did you enter for the giveaway of the Teaching From Rest bundle?
Break life’s tasks into manageable chunks: download One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider today!
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