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Give Your Home School a KISS

In the spring and summer, many of us turn our thoughts to evaluating our home schools. How are things going? What changes might we want to make? Some states or provinces require that you write some kind of end-of-the-school-year assessment. And even if it’s not required legally, it’s a good idea to pause every once in a while and make sure the path you’re on is taking you the right direction, toward where you want to be.

So today I want to share with you a simple way to evaluate your home school. It’s all centered around the word “kiss.” If you can remember four words that spell “kiss,” you’ll have at hand four questions that can help you check on how things are going and make plans for moving ahead.

The four words are

  • Keep
  • Improve
  • Stop
  • Start

You see how those first letters spell “kiss”: keep, improve, stop, start. So as you think about your home school, ask yourself

  • What do I want to keep?
  • What do I want to improve?
  • What do I want to stop?
  • What do I want to start?

I would encourage you to “kiss” three areas of your home school. Charlotte Mason believed that education involves the atmosphere of your home, the good habits that you are seeking to instill in your children, and the living ideas that you are presenting in your studies. So let’s walk through how you might “kiss” each of those areas of your home school.

Academics

First, let’s look at academics. Be sure to include any outside classes or co-ops or other activities that make up a part of your child’s learning. Now, remember K-I-S-S. 

First, what do I want to keep? What is working well? In this academics area, think about your curriculum, your methods, and your schedule. Which studies and activities are presenting those living ideas and keeping your child’s love for learning alive? Which methods breathe life into your home school? How is your schedule working? Which aspects are helping your days run smoother? What do you want to keep?

Second, what do I want to improve? Which of those things that you’re doing could get even better with a little tweak? Maybe one study is moving at too fast a pace for a particular child, or too slow a pace. How might you adjust it to fit better? Perhaps your mornings are a bit ragged, trying to get everybody started with schoolwork. How might you improve that particular component of your schedule? Think about what you want to improve.

Third, what do I want to stop? Are there any studies or activities that are not helping you reach your goals? Maybe something has become just extra weight at this point, and you’re tired of carrying that extra load. Perhaps a particular book is just not working with your child and you need to give yourself permission to set it aside. Or maybe, looking ahead, you realize that a certain activity is not going to work during the next season. Think through, Is there anything that you want to stop?

Fourth, What do I want to start? Here is your opportunity to dream. Is there something you’d like to try? Perhaps there is a Charlotte Mason method that you’ve been holding at arm’s length. Maybe now is the time to start doing nature study or try a Shakespeare play. Or do you want to implement a read-and-rest time every afternoon? Think about what new practice you want to start. 

Habits

Next ask those same four KISS questions about habits. 

What do I want to keep? What components of habit-training are working well? Identify which habits are in place now and you’re just keeping an eye on them. Look back over the past weeks and months and celebrate the wins.

What do I want to improve? Are there any habits that need a little touch or a little boost to get them solidly in place again? And feel free to include chores in this evaluation. Are there any chores that you want to see improved, either in the quality of the job or just remembering to do it? Chores should definitely become habits. So brainstorm some ideas of how you might be able to improve on habits that are already instilled.

What do I want to stop? Are there any bad habits that need to be addressed? Jot them down, but don’t get stuck there. Charlotte advised us not to focus on the bad habit that you want to get rid of; focus on the opposite good habit that you want to put in its place. So be sure to couple this question with the next question: 

What do I want to start? Think through, What good habit do I want to cultivate instead? Remember, especially in habits, you move toward what you focus on. Or maybe you simply want to pick out the next new good habit to start working on and start making plans for how you can integrate it into the daily life in your home—repeating that desired action (without lapses) and motivating your children to cultivate that habit through examples and consequences and encouragement. What good habit do you want to start?

Atmosphere

And then be sure to “kiss” the third aspect of education: the atmosphere of your home. Think about your attitudes, about your relationships with your children, maybe about organization—whatever contributes to the atmosphere of your home. Remind yourself what you want that atmosphere to be like, and then ask yourself those four KISS questions.

  • What do I want to keep?
  • What do I want to improve?
  • What do I want to stop?
  • What do I want to start?

This area of your home school focuses more on you and your own habits of thinking and behaving. The ideas that rule your life make up the atmosphere of your home. And as your children grow up in that atmosphere, they will absorb it. It will shape who they are becoming. So take time to consider what you want to keep, improve, stop, and start in relation to yourself and what will help you give your family the best version of yourself that you can.

So that’s how to KISS your home school—just four simple questions, but they are very effective in helping you review where you are and where you want to be.

You can give your home school a KISS anytime. It doesn’t have to be just at the end of your school year, whatever season that may be. You could pause and “kiss” each term if you want to. Whenever you want to use it, I hope this KISS framework will help you celebrate the high points, learn from the low points, and help you keep going in the right direction.

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