Making Memories Out of Milestones (Part 2)
Call the Media: The bread and butter of your community newspaper is reporting on local school news. These folks will be more than happy to cover your homeschool events, too, if someone just takes the time to give them a call or shoot them an e-mail. Kids love to see their pictures in the newspaper and it lends legitimacy to your educational choice.
Portfolios: It isn’t just homeschoolers who eschew grades these days; many conventional schools are shifting to portfolio assessments. This is a collection of a child’s best work in each subject area and sustained progress is the goal. Submitting an annual portfolio is required of homeschoolers in the state where I live, and what started out as a burdensome task for me became a treasured rite of passage once I brought my kids into the process. My children kept a file of their work throughout the year; as well as, lists of field trips, activities and books they’d read. The last two weeks of school were spent sorting through these files, selecting their favorite pieces and photos, revising writing assignments one more time and regluing or stapling projects back together. These were compiled in a 5” binder and decorated with a unique handmade cover. Now that my children are grown, those portfolios bring back a flood of warm memories – here’s where we documented how homeschooling and family life did indeed fit seamlessly together. It’s in the projects, photos and stories we’ve collected and catalogued here.
Celebration Dinners: One of the easiest and most meaningful ways to mark a special achievement or important milestone for a child (such as, learning to read or sitting for their first SAT or ACT exam) is to turn your family dinner table into a formal occasion. Prepare a favorite meal, ask Dad to make some formal remarks, have everyone stand and toast the accomplishment, clap wildly until the celebrant blushes; then post photos of the evening to your Facebook page. There are appropriate times to make a big deal out of each of our kids and focus the spotlight only on one.
Snow Days, Senior Skip Day, and Wear-Your-PJ’s-to-School Day: If your home school is anything like mine was, then you will not need to organize any of these events – you just have to be a good sport and go along with it when your kids declare they are observing these national holidays. That’s part of the rite of passage – school children in revolt against the powers that be. You can add to the thrill by initially acting perturbed by the interruption, but then join in the fun by showing off your snow fort building skills and the secret to making the perfect snowball. Senior Skip Day, in case you’re wondering, is a tradition now at our local co-op – the kids all head out for pizza while their siblings are left behind. And if you’re thinking Wear-Your-PJ’s-Day is every day at your house, then you can change that up by announcing a Dress Up day.
That summit meeting years ago triggered a shift in my approach to home schooling. My purposes were serious and weighty – a better education, I thought, an opportunity to infuse all of life with our faith and values. But my kids wanted a childhood marked by memorable moments of recognition, hilarity and shared experiences with their neighborhood friends. I’m glad they carried the day…because these memorable moments are now my cherished memories from homeschooling, too.