This post could also be titled: Creating a Vision for your Homeschool That Will Carry You Through Those Days When Things Don’t Look the Way You’d Hoped.
Homeschooling is a marathon- not a sprint. I have discovered that without a long term vision, my commitment to homeschooling stands on very shaky ground.
When my children were younger, it was so hard to watch my dreams of the perfect school day go down the toilet… sometimes quite literally. When your child, who you thought was potty trained, has a huge accident right when you are calling everyone together to listen to a story… that can throw a wrench in the works. When you are trying to follow the advice of those who have gone before and do school with your olders while your littles nap… but the littles just won’t nap… well… that can be really hard. When you’ve worked so hard on researching curriculum and really considered what would work best with your middle schooler, but the puberty monster comes out instead of your child and informs you that they hate you and they hate school and why can’t you just let them go to public school like a normal kid… well… that can be pretty heartbreaking.
How do you keep going when life throws curveballs? How do you keep going when adversity hits?
I share our story about my daughter’s cancer diagnosis and how our life got derailed while she was going through radiation and chemo at St. Jude often as a way of encouraging homeschoolers to build a vision that can withstand obstacles. I know there are reasons to put your children in school. I know there are reasons to put a pause on homeschooling. But I truly believe that if you are called to do something, God will equip and provide for whatever will come up.
When we flew into St. Jude for the first time, the shuttle picked us up to take us to the hospital. There was a mom and a son were already in the shuttle when my daughter and I got it. I was still in shock that this was now my life. I’d only been to Memphis one other time in my life and until about a week before, I had no idea St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was located in Memphis. I was simply doing the next thing… I couldn’t take in much more than one foot in front of the other. The other mom was very chatty and struck up a conversation. She found out that we homeschooled and immediately said to me, “Oh no. You’ll have to put your other kids in school. There’s no way you can homeschool and do cancer. It just won’t work.”
Everything over the previous weeks had been like one punch to the stomach after another. So much information was hitting us at a rapid pace after we found out our daughter had a malignant brain tumor. It was suffocating. And here was someone telling me we shouldn’t do the one thing that I was just sure that we should do! This mom has no idea that I talk about her all the time when I tell our St. Jude story. She has no idea the impact of her statement on me. She’s probably not given me a second thought.
Spoiler alert- We didn’t stop homeschooling. One reason being… academics and routine is NOT part of my homeschool vision. What?!?! Am I even allowed to say that???
Let me explain.
Here is the verse where everything rests for me:
May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;
When my children were itty bitty and there were only two of them, I was in a Mom to Mom group that changed my life. It was, and still is a life line to me. This verse was brought to my attention as was a challenge to write down for my children what I hoped for them.
The letter started,
“In twenty years, I hope…”
This was at the very beginning of our homeschool adventure. Based on Psalm 144:12, my hopes for my son include deep roots in the firm foundation of the Lord. Roots that allow him to drink deeply and grow. I picture him like a tree on a hot day where you just want to get to its shade… that he would be a place of refuge and refreshment for those around him. That as a tree’s branches reach far, my son would have far reaching influence. My hopes for my daughters include being corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace- that in their beauty and dignity, they would be able to stand up under massive pressure. That they would be strong and sturdy. And like my son, they would offer a place of peace and shade and comfort to those around them.
In addition to these things, I want my children to be able to identify what they are interested in and be able to go after it. I want them to know how to learn. If they can read and research- the world is open to them!
And one more thing- family is so, so important. My children have received the message from me that I will not accept sibling rivalry as the norm. I will not accept that they will fight and live in turmoil with each other. Sure… we fight and fuss and irritate when we live in close quarters with each other… that is normal… but in our home, we don’t leave it at the fight… we work towards understanding and reconciliation and love. I have told them more times than I can count that they are each other’s best friend. They were each other’s first friends. They are the ones who know each other the best. Our family is close and that’s all there is to it.
This is what I fall back on when adversity hits. This is what I look to when a new opportunity arises. How does our hope and vision for homeschooling inform, encourage, or direct a situation.
We homeschool for the long game. There have been many disappointments along the way. There have been milestones not met when I thought they should have been- children not “on grade level” (what does that even mean) at end of year testing. Sometimes it seems we take two steps forward, then one back, then three forward, and five back. Sometimes it seems hopeless. But if I only focus on the short term victories or disappointments, I cheat myself and my kids out of the long game.
Do you have a vision or mission statement for your homeschool? If not, here are a few thoughts to get you started:
What are your family values?
What fruit do you hope your homeschool will bear?
Who are you?
What are you working towards?
How do you plan to get there?
What kind of learners are your children?
What are some special considerations for your family?
We have friends that are sporty homeschoolers. Some that are drama/ theater kind of folks. We have highly academic friends. We have wild and free friends. We have World War 2 buffs, artsy peeps, martial arts, farmers, gamers, and so much more. What a gift to be able to tailor our homeschools to our family’s unique ins and outs!