Ring in the New Year
with Practical Resolutions
Happy New Year! Do you remember the song, Sunrise, Sunset? It includes these lyrics:
Swiftly fly the years
One season following the other,
Laden with happiness and tears.
|Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Learn more >>
Do the words sum up your feelings about teaching your teens at home? Especially the “swiftly fly the years?” At the start of another New Year, we’d like to share some ideas for resolutions you may want to keep.
1. Attract Your Teens with Honey Rather than Vinegar.
In other words, ask the Lord for kindness and patience to grow abundantly in your interactions with your teens. The teen years may give you numerous opportunities to return “good for evil.” It’s a supernatural job requiring supernatural help. You’ll discover over and over again that a soft answer turns away wrath—and, if it doesn’t, you have One who advocates and actively intercedes on behalf of you and your teen.
John Burroughs said, “One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.” It takes discernment to know when to address a matter and when to let it go. “Picking your battles” will be different for each parent/teen relationship. The Lord runs to help us and promises wisdom when we ask. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Give Them Grace, presents practical ways you can pour on the grace and provide support for your teens this coming year.
2. Remember When
Reaching back into the recesses of your own memories of the teen years gives you a good perspective. For some of you, your teens are leap years ahead of your maturity level at their age. Rejoice about that! For others, you may be wondering what gene pool your son or daughter came from. It may be helpful to take heart and remind yourself that not everyone develops at the same pace. Your 15-year-old son may next year become a responsible young man, and your 16-year-old daughter may be a scant few months away from becoming a respectful young lady. God is at work, and He never sleeps or slumbers. It will help to think of ways to encourage your teens by noticing even small ways they are maturing. Encouragement creates fertile ground for new growth.
3. Take Time to Play
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy and make you an unimaginative parent! Taking time to carve out “play” time in your life will keep you going. Read a book, watch a movie, take a walk, begin a hobby, or make time for a short break away from your children. After you’ve recharged your own batteries, then play with your teens. Find something they are interested in, and join them in the fun. If your son plays baseball, learn how to keep score. If she is into fashion, make an appointment for a makeup session together. If your teens enjoy bowling, start a once-a-month family league. Long after the school books are put away, your teens will remember the good times you had with them.
4. Keep Learning and Stretching
Stretch your mind and body in new ways in 2013. As you unwind at the end of the day, learn a new vocabulary word, work a Sudoko puzzle, or keep your mind sharp with crossword puzzles.
Homeschool parents are busy, and some may neglect exercising. The benefits of physical exercise far outweigh the time you devote to it. Start with a short period of time such as 10–15 minutes—and stick to it. Physical activity produces great dividends such as controlling weight, combating disease, improving mood, boosting energy, and promoting better sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. What homeschool parent wouldn’t want those benefits? (Excuse us while we do some jumping jacks.)
5. Record and Organize
Do you remember all those cute things your children said? Even as teens, some of their responses cause everyone to roll with laughter. Maybe this year is the time to record them for posterity. While recording, don’t forget to include special moments with your teens, notes of appreciation, poems written, and memorable conversations. Then on days when it seems as if clouds are rolling in, take out the folder or notebook and reread your notations. It won’t take long for a smile to appear.
The New Year is also a good time to get organized. Are those groans we hear?! For some of you, things at home must be organized in order for you to operate efficiently. Others are not bothered in the least and can accomplish much in the midst of piles. But even for those who live in the midst of piles, there is some type of organization, right? In any case, studies show that students learn most easily and effectively when there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.
Organizing your home can be a family affair starting when your children are young. The habit of everyone doing their share can naturally continue into the teen years, taking the load off of you. Don’t hesitate to make it a group responsibility—everyone will benefit and teens will learn the art of delegating.
6. Restore Your Soul
Psalm 23:3 says, “He restores my soul.” Other translations say, “He refreshes and restores my life (my self);” “You let me catch my breath;” and “He renews my strength.” God does this for us and knows exactly when we need restoring/renewing/refreshing. Spending time reading the Scriptures and communing with the Lord in prayer is the first place to go to receive His refreshment.
Inspirational and devotional books will encourage you and lift your spirits. Consider using Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling for daily readings this year. You might also enjoy reading Christian and missionary biographies together as a family. Not only will these selections inspire you and your teens, but they will broaden their view of the world and show how one person can bring about change where they are planted.
Pick Only One Resolution You Want to Keep
We provided six resolutions to supply you with ideas from which to choose; not to overwhelm you, so pick one or two that you feel would be beneficial to work on. If you stumble along the way, just get up, and focus on the present not the past. As Henry Moore says, “I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the year’s.” It will give you the incentive to keep on track.
In closing, we like what Anonymous (!) said, “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.”
We’ll be here for you (Lord willing) in 2013 to take your questions, prop you back up when you fall, and turn you towards the Lord who has all of the answers and loves you dearly.
Join us next month as we rekindle your vision for homeschooling your teens.
Making and breaking resolutions all year long,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants