Every year at this time homeschooling moms everywhere are busy organizing their curriculum closets, making their schedules, clearing out old books, and evaluating school supplies. I can hear the clicking of label makers across America!!
I’m currently reorganizing all our craft supplies. Since I started homeschooling . . . 9 years ago . . . all the craft supplies have just been accumulating in inexpensive tubs, just all piled in there mumbly jumbly. I can’t find anything. I buy stuff and find out I already had it. So I’m tackling the crafty beast before I move on to the kids’ homeschool crates (more on that in a near-future post). All my craft stuff has been de-tubbed and is spread out on my dining room table while I assess, categorize, and plan.
This is also a great time of year to reflect on why it is we homeschool in the first place. If you’re a veteran homeschooler, why did you start homeschooling all those years ago, and what have you discovered since? If you’re a new homeschooler, it’s even more important that you record now the ideals and principles on which you’re basing your decision to bring your child home, because at some point this year you’re going to have second thoughts. Write it down and hang it near your desk or nightstand. When you have self-doubts, the kids put crayons in the toaster, or you find out your next door neighbor’s 10 year-old is creating a replica of the Taj Mahal from pasta (which he rolled himself on his self-built pasta machine), you’ll have a reminder of what it is you care about and value most.
My original reasons for homeschooling were purely academic. I thought Philip and I could do a better job than our local school district in providing a superb education to our children. Since then I’ve discovered that the best part of homeschooling is the lifestyle. Even if I found a school with well-prepared teachers who understood child development the way I do and offered the kind of rich content that I value, I would continue to homeschool because I could never give up the connection and adventure we enjoy as a family. Even on our hard days as homeschoolers, I think it’s easier than the easy days we would endure if our children were in a traditional school setting.
I’ve been thinking how beneficial it would be for homeschoolers to create mission statements for their home-based schools much like professional organizations do. A mission statement can help give us focus when we’re losing our way or are having trouble making decisions about how to use our time as a family. If your kids are old enough or are interested, include them in clarifying your family’s vision for your homeschool journey. Some questions to get started:
- What is your purpose in homeschooling?
- What do you believe about how learning happens?
- What are your goals for your children?
- What hopes do you have for your family and each of your children?
When I ponder these questions, what strikes me is that my purpose, beliefs, and goals for my children and their education have more to do with the formation of their spirits and the transformation of their hearts than with what goes into their heads. Content is certainly important to me. I care very much about what my children read and experience. But my primary purpose isn’t that they’re prepared to enter an Ivy League school. My primary purpose is that they’ll be prepared to embark on whatever path God has in mind for them and that they’ll seek to know what that path is, a knowledge that will only come through prayer and watching. My hope is that they’ll become empathic, wise adults who are able to face adversity with grace and who make the lives of those around them better, more joyful, more meaningful.
I’m going to think even more about a mission statement over the next weeks as I sort out my school planner to get ready for next year.
As we organize and plan this month, we can arrange our homes so that’s they’re most conducive to our homeschooling missions. As the head of your homeschool, consider your vision, then work toward creating a home environment that is entirely unique and attuned to your children’s and your family’s needs and goals.