I realized the other day that, despite all of the interruptions this year, Mouse (my six-year-old girl) is about thirty lessons away from the end of her second-grade year. How encouraging in these end-of-the-year doldrum weeks when I feel like we are spinning our wheels.
I started thinking right away about what we’ll study “next year” and also thinking about how to finish enthusiastically.
Finishing well is so hard, isn’t it?
For us–and for our children–the excitement of new books and topics wears off, and often our school year just peters out. We finish with more of a sigh of relief than a feeling of encouragement that will launch us into the next year.
I want to model finishing well for the children and teach them to persevere because I think that learning to do that in school assignments is a great way to disciple them into “fighting the good fight and finishing the race” as adults and fellow citizens in a much larger Kingdom! This is hard work for a mama with a lifelong habit of starting things enthusiastically, getting bored or overwhelmed with them, and quitting or just letting them drop.
How do I lead by example in this area?
Grace, grace, grace! My daily, and sometimes hourly, prayer has to be, “Lord, grant me the grace to finish this well.” I can’t finish well on my own and I have to remember that. However, there are things we can all add to our routines to help along the way to the finish line.
Scriptural Admonition and Encouragement: I post quotes and verses in the places where I am likely to see them and be reminded to finish well.
Planning: Every weekend I sit down and plan the following week–schoolwork, housework, menus, projects, and places to go. I try to find something that works, although I readjust a bit as the week unfolds. Having a plan in place saves me from having to figure out what to do each day and I find I am much more likely to do the things I’ve grown tired of or dislike if they are in my plan.
Short Projects: I love the timer on my phone! Since I concentrate better in twenty minute spurts, I’ve learned to write down three things I want to accomplish, set the timer for twenty minutes, and focus on just one project for that time. At the end of the twenty minutes I go do something else for twenty minutes. Lately, I’ve been learning to make some of those things regular appointments in my Google calendar–I get a reminder to fold laundry at 11 a.m. on certain days so that there will be folded laundry for the children to put away at chore time. Without that, we often get to chore time without having any chores for the children to do!
Something Creative: I recently spent the time to add a bulletin board with quotes and verses to my laundry folding area so I would have something to look at. I took the time to make it pretty because a pleasant area makes it easier for me to do a good job. The same thing applies to schoolwork. Encourage the children to finish their work quickly by telling them they can decorate their math papers! The anticipation of doing something creative will help get their minds working harder on finishing those pesky long-division problems!
Good Attitude: One of my children loves to complain and will look for things to complain about even when they are having a good day. Drives me nuts! I have to carefully watch, not only my own attitude of thankfulness, but also my attitude towards that child when the complaining starts. He complains, I get annoyed, and suddenly we’ve spent an hour and half on a fifteen-minute assignment! Not exactly finishing strong, is it?
So much of what I want to pass on to the children has to do with being joyful and persevering, with loving to learn and with being teachable, that I find this concept of finishing strong needs to be a significant focus. I need to plan not only–approximately–when we will finish, but also how we will finish, and think about the steps and the grace it will take to be able to say at the year’s end, “Yes, we began well, and we had some ups and downs, but by God’s grace we finished well and are ready to begin again!”
Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.