Demonstrating Responsibility through Accountability in the Homeschool Journey

As a parent of four magnificent children, this is something I wish I would have known when I began our homeschool journey some 10+ years ago. The thought of using accountability to create responsibility may be something we naturally do as parents, but we can have a greater impact with intentional goal-setting in this area. According to the Bible, everyone is accountable to God and some sub-structure here on Earth: children to parents, wives to husbands, employees to employers, students to teachers, etc. Have we ever thought about how accountability can set the parameters for our lives? Accountability builds intention and demonstrates responsibility, and through consistent feedback, we sharpen our responsibility in all said areas.

It’s no different with our children! The hearts of our children need shaping and accountability is the tool that will produce responsibility. The Bible puts it this way,

“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” ~ Prov 4:23

One thing that I love about homeschooling, is the privilege to speak to their hearts consistently through reasoning, life examples, quiet conversations, and more. I am able to speak to their souls when I ask questions about their decision-making and the possibilities for better insights in the future. As God continues to show me both the letter and heart of His ways, I have devised 7 goals for accountability in my homeschool this year.

  1. Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first.
    As a parent, our children watch EVERYTHING we do. If we want to build accountability and responsibility in the hearts of our children, how are we the lead learner in this endeavor? Are we being intentional about the way we are first accountable to the commitment to homeschool in the effort and preparation? For me, it took a few years to figure out my rhythm and what I was willing and not willing to do. I am not an artsy mom, so any curriculum that involved arts and crafts with ubers of supplies and planning was not for me. Once I figured that out, I was no longer in denial about it; but owned it and moved forward with curriculums that suited my strengths as a teacher. Customizing the type of curriculum to my children was a breeze then.
  2. Set goals. (spiritual, emotional, social, and physical).
    About 5 years ago, this was a game-changer for me as a Christian, wife, mom, and educator. When there are not goals in place, there is no vision, and
    “where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18
    So now I loosely set goals for each part of the child. I often journal areas that need sharpening so I can look for life opportunities to teach and reflect.
  3. Consistently give feedback.
    Don’t we all do better when we know the areas that need strengthening? I have found that one of our jewels has a real hard time with accepting feedback; but thanks be to God, where I lack, God gives abundant grace (2 Cor 12:9). Now that I am aware, I can take frequent opportunities to gently give feedback.
  4. Create a culture of two-way feedback.
    This has been a pretty new phenomenon in our homeschool. I think I have been of the “old school” philosophy of “do what I say because I said so.” There are few occasions where that still holds true, because children should always respect the authority of their parents (Eph 6:1) but training our kids classically, as they increase in wisdom and wonder, I have found that it is much more valuable for them to respectfully interject ideas, questions, and reasoning into the discussion. This has fostered better practice in critical thinking for them and me. Instead of shutting down questions and supposed disrespect, try using questions to foster conversation, allowing them an opportunity to discover truth, beauty, and respectful communication. It’s a consistent work in progress and intention. Patience and persistence is key for teaching the beauty of logic, the ability to reason well.
  5. Make accountability a habit.
    Accountability can be defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. There must be a heart of willingness to accept that responsibility. Our children demonstrate that responsibility through consistent practice. At times they are rewarded, and other times they must accept good for goodness sake. If we take away the consistency, we confuse them and perhaps teach a conditional reward system versus a biblical one that pleases God.
  6. Keep track of your commitments and hold each other accountable.
    One would agree that it is irresponsible to make a commitment and not keep it. This is far different than not accepting a commitment because of too many prior commitments. Time management is an essential element so that teachers and students alike can understand the abilities and constraints. This is a trait that we must execute well as adults, and we see its beginnings reared in childhood. When we are not able to keep our commitments, other obstacles like tardiness and procrastination arise. As parents and lead learners in the homeschool journey, we must model proficient time management, consistently aligning our motives and actions with this verse:

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” ~ Colossians 3:23-24
  7. Use accountability as your structure for life lessons.
    Accountability is everything to our homeschool. God continues to teach me this lesson as I humbly submit to His will and His ways for my life. Our children learn as they humbly submit to my authority as a Christian, mom, and educator. They will forever be accountable to someone, and it’s a truth we must all get used to and accept. Pride has a funny way of showing up when we don’t accept this truth.

    **Bonus: hold others accountable by supporting and encouraging one another
    This is the bonus rule for our homeschool. As mom submits to Christ, the kids submit to mom through Christ, therefore encouraging and supporting one another. The more Bible we all learn and practice, the more our hearts are shaped through action, thought, and deed. It’s a constant sharpening, a fluid grace, and forward-thinking that helps us as teachers and students through this magnificent journey.

    Be encouraged as you lay your victories and worries at His feet and move through knowing for certain,

    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

To God be the Glory

Teach to the WHOLE child

“Do you realize that if you push a child too hard it can do a lot more harm than a poor grade!” ~ Ms. Crump, Opie’s Teacher, Andy Griffith 💖

This quote came up in my memories today. As a homeschool family, I have always known that grades aren’t everything in the scheme of learning. Spiritual health, emotional health, physical health, social health, and academics all have unique characteristics in each of our children. How we balance assessing these areas is equally important.

Interesting reading this nugget from Ms. Crump with the lens of a college sophomore, 8th grader, and two 5th graders. Our diamonds all have different seasons, different needs, and different abilities, yet God requires parents to do the best they can, equipping and training them in all. Defining the how’s, why’s, when’s and what’s of “push” is the key to developing a great relationship with our children in every season. Pray for God’s guidance as we grow in executing these areas without leaving others undone!

Nuggets from Andy Griffith 💖

As we contemplate 🤔 another school year under new “pandemic” 😷 circumstances, let us not forget that our “students” are still children and need a fair balance of academics, play, problem solving, conflict resolutions, and discussion⚠️. Being at home will never replicate a 6-hour day of public school📆; instead, it should be rich with reading📚, writing📝, discussion📢, critical thinking 🤔, and more. Change your thinking 💭 about what learning looks like‼️Homeschool won’t fit into the 6-hour box that most families are used to 🤣. Seize smaller moments of in-depth conversation as your students (big or small) mature right before your eyes. Time waits for no one 🕧, so make the best of those small opportunities 💖. Before you know it, these precious moments add up to a lifetime of love, learning, memories, and growth 🤓💕! The children are learning from us how to persevere or how to give in🤓! Which will we choose to be our legacy? #togodbetheglory#deut6#parentteacher#conversationsbuildmemories

PREPARING FOR THE NEW HOMESCHOOL YEAR

I already did a post about the curriculums we will be doing for the new school year. (You can read that here in case you missed it 😉! A common question for homeschool families is, “How do I choose my curriculum for the year?” Well, that may be a loaded question for some. Many homeschoolers have spent hundreds of dollars on “good intentions,” hoping to implement pricey curriculums purchased on a whim, by a referral, or to fulfill some requirement. I tend to lean towards whatever is simplest, cheapest, and the least amount of prep 🤣! So it was a no-brainer when I adopted a curriculum based on my state’s education requirements.

eatonfamilytv
Eaton Family Tribe (circa 2012)

Homeschool families may opt to sign up for the FREE portfolio reviews in many states. This is the tool we chose instead of using an umbrella homeschool program. Here’s a brief explanation of the two options.

What is a portfolio review?

Homeschool portfolios are a form of student record keeping that documents regular educational instruction. In Maryland, homeschool portfolios illustrate that a child is consistently learning specific subject areas. By law, they should not be checking for “progress” or grades necessarily, but that the child is receiving a consistent education. This is assessed through dated materials.

What is an “umbrella” or “cover” school?

An umbrella or cover school is different than a portfolio review. An “Umbrella” or “cover” school will approve and oversee a homeschool program. They may offer distance learning that can be used for one subject or as a complete curriculum. I have heard great privileges about using umbrella/cover-school resources, particularly in the high school years, but, our family has opted for the free portfolio review through our county.

My Portfolio Review Process

For us, FREE, is always good. It comes with a bit more work, but I don’t mind. Homeschool reviews can cause a lot of anxiety for folks. In the beginning, I certainly lead the anxiety club for that! However, over the last 7+ years, I have come up with a system that has helped me receive a compliant assessment every time. Prayerfully, sharing 5 easy steps will help you with your next review!

1) GET YOUR MINDSET RIGHT. PREPARATION IS KEY!
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” ~ Robert Collier
Success doesn’t come from one day’s effort; it requires effort from the starting and needs repeated effort every day.

If we begin our homeschool year accepting this as our motto, then there should be no room left for the worried feeling that comes with portfolio review.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell

Once you register with your state/county as a homeschooler there will be requirements that every homeschool family must meet. KNOW WHAT THOSE ARE! Like anything else, you can access them online. They are usually found in the Dept. of Education for your state under the homeschool section. Knowing the expectation can establish the confidence necessary to meet the requirements. Knowing the requirements also helps with school planning for the current school year and future planning. The parent that is clueless about the state requirements has plenty of reason to be worried and anxious. This, my friends, is an easy fix!

2) PLAN YOUR CURRICULUM ACCORDING TO THE REQUIREMENTS.
Because homeschool is customized, families have a variety of ways to fulfill these requirements. The beauty of homeschooling is that life is learning.

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” — Eartha Kitt.

Many daily activities can be credited as academic instruction. Most elementary subject areas are as follows:
*English.
*Mathematics.
*Science.
*Social studies.
Art.
Music.
Health.
Physical education.
[Foreign language (optional)]

Purchase a 3-ring binder (3″ or larger) for each of your students. Create tabs for each subject. Also, create a Google Drive folder for the current school year, each student, the term (Fall, Winter, Spring), then the subject folders in each student folder. Put SOMETHING in (*) subjects daily. Be sure to DATE each assignment!! It can be video, worksheets, pictures from a field trip, etc. The other subject folders may be added to weekly. Again, pictures, worksheets, field trips, etc.

Organizing my quarters this way has made for seamless compliance. I am no longer scrambling to get papers and other evidence together to confirm regular homeschool instruction. I begin my year like this every year, making sure to label folders (Fall, Winter, Spring) for each academic school year in case I need to reference them.

3) GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED (If you want).
Since about 3rd grade, I have always involved our kids in the homeschool review. They have shared about specific projects that affirm the “regular instruction” that officials require. It’s not necessary, but it has been a great experience for our kids and another assessment tool for me to know whether they grasped an understanding of the particular assignment.

4) BE SURE TO HAVE A FOLDER FOR ELECTIVES (EXTRA-CURRICULAR).
Although it’s not required, officials have always inquired about “extras” like foreign languages and other subject areas that are not “required” learning. No harm in logging those as well. I have found that when it was time to do resumès and/or transcripts for our college student, going back to past experiences added to her portfolio.

5) BE CONFIDENT IN YOU AND YOUR KIDS ACCOMPLISHMENTS!
Organizing work this way has given me the blessing of seeing the growth in our children and the growth in my abilities as their primary teacher. Certainly not without mistakes, our homeschool has flourished since I implemented this process for our family’s organization. It’s a great way to get dad involved too if he isn’t already. Having children “show and tell” at dinner time, Saturday mornings, or other favorable times gives me other assessment opportunities.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he/she has overcome while trying to succeed.” ~ Booker T. Washington

You can be confident in knowing that growth is happening in your homeschool, and your review is an opportunity to share that growth!

Jamia E.
Christian. Wife. Mother. Educator. Model. Actress.

Lord, give me the wisdom to navigate through this life all to your glory.  ~ James 3:13-18

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