Each morning we get up and move into our homeschooling days with plans, goals, and visions of what our day is going to look like. I’ve been doing this now for twenty years, and I can tell you that there have been very few days that have gone as planned. They are the exception, not the rule. Some people LOVE that! They think of it as an adventure… territory that they are courageously exploring. I am not one of those people.
I like a plan. I like PLAN A because I have usually put a lot of time and thought into it, but I rarely get to experience it. As the day unfolds into plan B….and C….and D, it’s easy to get cranky. The kids seem oblivious to it all, and I’m not sure whether to admire them or strangle them. They think this WAS the plan, and they are good with it. Maybe I could learn something from them.
So here is my question: What is our homeschool message? Not the one we think we SHOULD say. Not our homeschool mission statement. What is the unspoken message we send to our children by our response to life’s curve balls? Curve balls like emergency room visits, learning issues, attention issues, family crisis, finding out we HATE the curriculum we chose? How about state test results or home test results?
Our response tells our children exactly what we value. Is our response telling our children that we value THEM? Or is it showing them that education is more important than anything? That how we compare to everyone else is what matters? That we must do everything we can to stay ahead of the curve? That they MUST perform or all is lost?
There is nothing wrong with having goals and guidelines. But when those become the focus, when we lose sight of who our children are as human beings, as individuals, as souls, we throw away the greatest opportunity we have in homeschooling: to allow our kids to be the unique people they were created to be. People with purpose and with passion.
But that requires something from us: We have to be willing to lay down our own version of what things are “supposed” to look like and embrace the uniqueness of the children and the situation God has given us. We also have to embrace the kind of moms/teachers that we are. I don’t teach like a public school teacher. I teach as the person I am. For instance, I need an orderly home, so I can’t do schoolwork with the kids in the middle of a big mess. I can’t think. Sometimes we will stop doing schoolwork and take a few minutes to bring order to our surroundings. I don’t do lesson plans, but I write down whatever we have done that day in a journal. There are many facets to the way I homeschool that are going to be different from someone else.
The point is, we need to listen to our instincts. That takes time. It takes a willingness to veer from “the plan” at times and be willing to let our family homeschool take its own shape. Most importantly, it means we are intentional about the overall message we are sending our kids about what is truly important and what is not. Because at the end of the day…and at the end of our homeschooling, that’s what really matters.