by Karen D. Koch

Last spring I completed homeschooling six consecutive years of high school. My two oldest overlapped two of their high school years. With driver’s ed, PSAT, SAT, college decisions, dual credit, jobs, work permits, tax forms, financial aid forms, scholarship and college applications, and graduation planning for much of that time, I got very overwhelmed. But now that they have both graduated from high school and I get one year “off” until we start high school again with child #3, I’m having some time to pause and reflect. I want some things to be different in 2017, now that I have a bit of perspective on things. Here are my top 5 for 2017.hiking

  1. I will take more photos, and not just the posed variety.  I’ve had a dumb phone forever with truly lame photo-taking ability, and the last digital camera in the house stopped functioning years ago. I’ve missed lots of photo moments. Now that I’m nostalgic and the two oldest are grown and partially flown, I find myself browsing through old photos and reminiscing about the time they got into my eye shadow, or fell asleep over their dinner, or lined up their stuffed animals to “do school” with them. Thanks to a generous friend who just gifted me her old phone, I’m back in the photo business.
  2. We will take more hikes, bike rides, and view beauty around us. So many of our happiest memories revolve around the times we have enjoyed God’s handiwork: building a driftwood fort on the beach with cousins, hiking in the Redwoods, viewing waterfalls, driving through vineyards.  Fresh air and sunshine! We need more time in God’s amazing Creation. With all the craziness of the last few years, this is something that largely slipped off my “to-do” list.
  3. We will be more deliberate about turning off media. Like many families, we have let the media beast creep into our lives far too often, isolating us from one another. Even necessary and good uses of media (research, writing papers, doing math or science tutorials) can end up sucking away many of our hours. Christmas Eve we spent eating, playing Scrabble, listening to music, and singing together. Those moments are precious. Pinterest, Facebook, online research, e-mail and our phones all have their places, but I’m going to designate more media-free times. When the devices get turned off, often fellowship, important conversations, creativity and activity come rushing back.
  4. I will worry less about “getting it all done.” I’ve carried anxiety about this with the kids’ academics and activities too long. Steady plodding brings prosperity. Moving forward in academics, spiritual growth, and character–that’s the goal, not necessarily finishing every single page of Saxon Algebra. We can have goals and aspire to learn more, but keeping the 3 Rs will be our main academic central focus without letting spiritual things slip.
  5. I will pray more for God to guide my children and stop trying to carry that responsibility all by myself. He knows them better than I do. He has already done amazing things to guide each child in direction they should go with their gifts and abilities. If I’m listening more and talking less, it will be easier to see and hear God’s directions.

I encourage each parent out there to think of their own list of five or more things to do better in 2017. I’m cheering you on!

Capitol Day & Leadership Conference, Feb. 8-11, 2017
SCOPE & CHEA Homeschool Conference June 2-3, 2017
34th Annual CHEA Convention July 13-15, 2017