Back to School, Aquinas Learning Style: A Veteran Mom’s Advice to Starting Strong in September!

Start with an end of year assessment: When the school year ends, my kids and I discuss what we learned, what was most challenging, and what we most enjoyed. Once we have completed the required standardized testing, I take time to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and then set the notes aside, and take my mind off for a break. As I return from the summer respite, I redirect thoughts, bodies, and minds toward new ventures.

Whether I had a nice rejuvenating summer or a hectic one full of activities, I find that I must make time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, time for contemplation, time to plan family and educational goals (why we homeschool) with my spouse, and time to prepare for the upcoming school year. I purposefully try to drink in truth, goodness, and beauty, so I can continue the homeschool journey.

Preparing with the children: We gather to discuss the upcoming year’s plans. The kids set personal goals, and we discuss virtues to hone, possible challenges, and how to meet them. Challenges for us usually include adjusting levels of expectation, specific subject struggles, and life changes (for instance, last year I was expecting a baby in the fall, one son was moving up to Schola Alta, another was starting high school with extra courses—so those were challenges we came up with strategies to address). We often modify our goals, but having a plan gives us a strong start for the year. I approach challenges in a twofold way; first, identifying strategies to address problems, and, secondly, taking it as a reminder to grow in humility when those strategies sometimes fail. We make plans to manage the work, but we also talk about failing and struggling, prayer and embracing humility, too.

Memories from the school year at Aquinas Learning:
 My favorite recent memory is when Nathan (just finished 7th grade, and first year of Logic) was eagerly discussing with his five-year-old brother Nicholas what “makes a ball a ball”; its essence and “ball-ness.” His own mind was full of figuring it out, and had spilled over to make certain his little brother enjoyed the “play” of learning and thinking as well. Someone at a homeschool conference asked me recently what I love most about Aquinas, and this is it—the classes and curriculum lend to wonder. This is why I am homeschooling, why I started 11 years ago. I am so grateful for the inspiring family discussions we have had throughout this year from our studies at Aquinas Learning.

–Tiffany Mathias is mother to five boys, Peter (18, Davis Career Center School), Christopher (15, 10th grade), Nathan (13, 8th grade), Nicholas (five, Parva), and Anthony (nine months). She began homeschooling 11 years ago because her oldest son has autism and she desired to teach to his strengths, rather than from his weaknesses, and hoped his relationship with his brothers would strengthen at home. She was also inspired by C.S. Lewis’s Abolition of Man and wanted to form “men with chests,” whose minds and hearts are well-formed to grow in wisdom.


Comments are closed.