- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Can you believe the school year is half over? I can't. Are you happy with the year so far, or does your school program need improvement?
If you're happy, that's great. But what if you are not satisfied? What if you say, "Things need to change." Maybe it's time for a midyear evaluation.
Taking time to evaluate your home education program can greatly improve not only your child's academic progress, but also your overall outlook on the school year. Let's look at four key areas discipline, obedience, motivation and priority and see how assessing each one can bring new life to your home school.
The first area is personal discipline. As parents and teachers, we have a responsibility to instruct our children in discipline for their everyday and academic lives.
I am not naturally a morning person. I would rather stay up late into the night than get up early in the morning, but I know my day will be more profitable if I rise early. Knowing this, I discipline myself to get up, even if it is still dark outside, and prepare for the day ahead.
As dads and moms, we need to remember our children are watching us constantly. Let them see you exercising personal discipline in your life, and they more than likely will follow your example. Let's face it, home-schooling takes discipline and work. Our children are not always going to feel like opening their books. When we require personal discipline, they not only will be able to finish their studies, but also will be strengthened in character. They need to learn that any task they would rather not tackle will take personal discipline to complete.
The second area, obedience, is where your child sees you as the rightful authority figure in his or her life and is obedient to your instructions. If you do not have or maintain proper authority, you will find yourself in a constant power struggle. Instead of making progress through your home-education program, you always will be fighting to maintain control and order in your home. Where personal discipline and obedience are absent, home-schooling will be difficult, and in some instances impossible.
The third area to evaluate is motivation. Are you and your children motivated to complete your work every day? Sometimes we can lose our desire to continue. We can forget why we are home-schooling or just grow weary of the day-to-day routine.
If your children are not motivated to complete daily studies, it is often easy to let assignments slide. This may seem like a good idea at first, but lessons have a way of piling up. Before you know it, one day's work has multiplied into an assignment that is more than your child can handle.
For parents, attending a home-schooling convention, listening to an audiotape of a motivational home-schooling speaker or reading an encouraging book on home education can help boost your spirits.
Motivating children may take some creativity. Don't be afraid to try a new approach. The idea is to take a break from the daily routine while continuing the education process. A field trip, video or hands-on project may be just the "extra" that may motivate your child to stick to his or her studies. On a warm spring day, you even could take your regular home-school day outside for a change of pace.
Finally, keep home-schooling at the top of your priority list your child's education depends on it. If you allow the other responsibilities and activities of life to steal time from your home-education program, you may need to sit down and re-evaluate your commitments. All your activities may be good, and some of them even may be part of your home-schooling plan, but often you may have to choose only the best and leave the rest for another time in life.
No one knows what tomorrow holds. We have our children for such a short time, we need to cherish each day. Starting today, keep home-schooling a priority. Train your children to be self-disciplined, obedient and motivated learners, and you will experience your best home-school year yet.
Kim Huber, a mother of four children, has been home-schooling for 16 years. She and her husband serve on the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania's board of directors. She can be reached by e-mail (CHAPKimH@aol.com).

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