I placed their school bins on the floor and called them to open them up before our day began. I had just organized all of their collected work from Junior Kindergarten to the present and since I enjoyed rifling through stick figures and invented-spelling stories, I knew my children would too. As they pulled out paper after paper, the energy was contagious. They laughed at how funny their printing used to be and they showed each other how immature their journals were. They were proud of some of their creative writing and loved seeing the progression in their artwork.
As we closed up the bins, I asked them how they were feeling. What would they like to change about their work, what were they most proud of and what would they like to see in their bins when they look back next year? Molly loved the self-portraits she had created in pastel each year and remembered we hadn't drawn one this year. She also wanted to write more stories. Emily loved opening and closing all the flaps on her lapbooks and really wanted to complete more of those. Oliver just looked at me and said, "I feel disobedient."
I asked him what he meant by that. He answered, "I did such good work when I was little. I need to obey more."
Wow, I was surprised. Obviously, my boy knew what he was capable of and that he was not living up to his potential. I was so thankful we had done this little exercise. It was a reminder to me that I had lost my way on completing a few goals, but also, that we had accomplished so much more than I remembered. Needless to say, the rest of the day was quite productive.
When our children are struggling with reading or writing, drawing or math, it's so beneficial to show them how far they've come. Do you save your kids' work? I tend to recycle math and spelling books and a few other subjects that have come in the form of workbook style, but I will save a test with a great score or anything else that is a sampling of who they are and what they're producing each year. Awards and certificates end up in the bin as well.
My sister shared with me that this activity is a huge motivator for her children and they actually pull out their "old" work frequently. Her son, in particular, will invest more effort into a project after he peruses a project from the previous year. He becomes excited at what he was able to accomplish and doesn't feel as intimidated to start again with something new.
Sometimes, it takes a little reminder of how far they've come and some encouragement that they are growing and learning well, no matter how tough it's been. Hopefully, looking back over past years will give us mommas the enthusiasm we need to carry on, knowing we're making progress!
Stay tuned as I share tomorrow how lapbooking and notebooking make learning so much more effective and enjoyable in our homeschool.