I think the practice of reflection is something that's been hyped up as reserved for the end of the year, but I truly believe it’s something that should be practiced regularly. If you are new to reflection or would like some guidance in teaching your kids the art of reflection, download our
I started understanding the benefits of reflection when I created our end-of-year reflection time. I'm so grateful that I started that process with my kids. I wouldn't have connected with their hopes and dreams, and our homeschool would probably be very different today if I hadn't.
Throughout 2022 I challenged myself to level up on our reflection time and incorporate it more regularly (most weeks) and I can't even tell you (but I'll try!) how BIG of a difference this has made to our family.
Simply by reflecting more at the end of the week I've picked up on the cues that something isn't right or someone needs more one-on-one time. It's allowed me to redirect the path, check in more with that thought/realization and weave it into my plans to pay more attention.
"Ultimately, I see things coming before it all completely falls apart!"
There are so many benefits I've noticed throughout 2022 from this new habit I've created but I wanted to share two main benefits and also a bit of the background info on how I went about achieving this.
1. I am more present & less reactive.
I started a reflection journal in Freely Homeschool Planner app and it was a game changer for our homeschool (and my parenting).
By processing the week's events and getting them out of my head and into Freely, I'm starting the next week fresher and calmer (letting go of resentment and my own feelings that I didn't know I had). I began making notes about our homeschool week most Fridays as a way to track some things that have been going on emotionally in our home.
I thought reflecting each Friday would allow me to really see what has been working and not working within our routine. Initially, I intended this as a means for gathering information.
As someone who doesn't easily stop and tends to rush on to the next thing, I found this new intention to be incredibly grounding. It helped so much with untangling my thoughts and slowing down a little, and it really allowed me to have a better perspective on certain situations.
By getting the week's worries and events out of my head, I was able to see through certain behaviors and, instead of reacting, I was able to take the calm approach that I have so often struggled to execute well, or consistently for that matter!
It's beautiful to see the difference in my children when I am truly calm and capable of handling whatever feelings pop up for them without that knee-jerk reaction of my own feelings getting in the way.
"The best thing I did for myself as a home educator, was to start a reflection journal of our weeks"
Using Freely Homeschool Planner app as a journal was a simple decision for me. I'm already there. Using it to access our curriculum and lessons, it's with me on my phone, whenever I need it and it made a lot of sense because I wanted a way to search for specific words and events, and Freely is set up for that.
It also seemed the most convenient to access at therapist and doctor appointments to easily share details of things I felt were relevant.
I created a new category called "Journal" and just selected the child that the entry was relevant for and away I went! I'm a very visual person so I even snapped a few photos and added them in!
2. Clarity in our homeschool
The unexpected benefit of journaling was the clarity I gained. I was able to really double down on what mattered within our family and homeschool.
All of a sudden I was peeling the layers of worry and anxiety away as I noted the weeks' conversations, my thoughts and feelings about what we did and didn't get done, and why.
Slowly but surely, I was creating a beautiful memoir of our year together, and honestly, I don't think that I could have had any better reminder of the true heart and purpose of our homeschool.
Over time, I started realizing that some of the challenges within our homeschool weren't, in fact, things my children needed to work on. But, rather, things I myself needed to address. And so the growth continues as a home educator and a Mother of children with special needs, I am forever learning and growing.
I think that without reflecting regularly, I lose sight of why we are doing this homeschooling thing. Have you ever felt like that? Where it feels like it's not fun anymore and the kids are bored and uninterested and it's all just so forced. *sigh*
This used to be the point that I'd start to look at other curriculums, and other homeschooling families (comparison!!). I would change course for something new and fresh, but it just became a cycle!
For my family and many others, without an overarching reminder of our "why", quick-fix approaches can make us feel really detached from our days.
I believe this is the reason why I struggled so much with consistency in our homeschool - I didn’t feel like I had anything to measure. I would get stuck in the details and, let's face it, it's human instinct to want to know we are measuring up!
That is why keeping a reflection journal in Freely has been a game changer for me. As a home educator I'm gently reminded of my "why" each time I journal and reflect on our days together.
"Most of us need something to compare with and that's why, if we don’t check in with our "why"- our true reasons for homeschooling, we start to wander aimlessly and it just never feels enough."
We want to feel good about being together every day and working towards something. We want to feel confident in the reasons we choose certain curricula. Without that clarity, we will start looking for validation from the wrong sources (social media is a perfect example of this)
I know this is why, in the past, I have struggled with fixing our curriculum with another curriculum. Why I have fixated on what we didn't get done rather than what we did achieve and also why I have jumped to defensiveness at the first sign of criticism when asked about our homeschool year.
Reflection has not only played a big part in that feeling of "we did well this year" but it's also helped me grow and learn from the year and I feel a sense of excitement about the possibilities of a new fresh year!