Working backwards is a nifty math strategy my kids have learned to use –I find it’s a pretty useful approach to life as well.  So a foundational step in getting started home schooling is deciding where you are headed in the first place.  Where do you want your kids to end up when all is said and done? 

Where’s your family headed?  What goals do you desire to see your children reach while they are under your care? 

Home schooling isn’t about protecting our kids; it’s about preparing them.  But preparing them for what?  

If you haven’t thought this out before, now’s the time to do so.  This little exercise will become an important reference point when you lose your focus in the future.  It will also give you confidence that you have made a wise (logical and prayerful) decision and not a foolish (whimsical and presumptuous) one.  Then you’ll have the faith you need to press through the tough times (which I guarantee will come). 

Prayerfully consider the goals you desire your children to reach through home schooling.  Write them down.  Share them with your kids. 

Here’s the list Kermit and I made a number of years ago: 

  1. We want our children to love to learn.
  2. We want our children to have a marketable set of skills.
  3. We want our children to accurately understand the Christian faith and enjoy a vital relationship with the Lord.
  4. We want our children to articulate with integrity their Christian faith to their generation in a way that is both culturally relevant and persuasive. 

We certainly have other goals, values, and interests that are very important to us, but these sum-up the biggies.  These make the emphasis in our home just a bit different from the emphasis in another family’s home. 

A Vision Corrals Our Impulses

This short list has served me well over the years.  One of my favorite proverbs says, “Where there is no vision…the people perish”  (Proverbs 29:18 AMP).  The New American Standard version says, “Where there is no vision; the people are unrestrained.” 

Do you know what it is to be unrestrained?  I do.  My husband says without him in my life, I am a loose cannon.  You just never know what I might try to shoot at next… 

When I don’t have a clearly delineated vision guiding my decision-making, my life becomes chaotic.  I waste time looking at all my options and heading down paths with no destination in mind.  I meander aimlessly from day to day and accomplish nothing of eternal or even temporal value.  I become “double-minded” and  “unstable in all my way,” rethinking decisions, choices, and options over and over again and growing weary and discouraged. 

The goals I’ve listed corral me in.  They are the parameters I need for assessing my options – and not just whether to home school at all or not; but also in considering these things: 

  • What curriculum to use
  • What courses of study to cover
  • What activities to engage in

A Vision Fuels Our Motivation 

Further, these goals get me refocused when I am discouraged by the day-to-day grind.  They are the source of my motivation.  I would have skipped labor during the birth of my children if there had been a way (I asked!) –but I chose to go through it time and again because I had a vision of the joy at the end of the journey. 

The same holds true in choosing to home school (some parallels to labor can be drawn, I must admit).  But the picture I envision of my children grown, loving to learn, and serving the Lord from the sincerity of their hearts fuels my motivation.  And that energizes me daily to do what I can to make that vision a reality. 

One More Time, Class 

If you are just getting started home schooling, or even if you have been at it awhile, have you determined your destination yet?  You can’t skip this part and hope to succeed.  This isn’t a self-help strategy –it’s a biblical principle. 

Throughout history God has consistently given a vision to His people; a promise of a coming Messiah, the hope of Christ’s return, our future perfection in Christ, the list goes on.  Why?  So we will continue to be motivated and disciplined to press on for the prize set before us.  Consider this wisdom:

                        Record the vision

                        And inscribe it on tablets,

                        That the one who reads it may run.

                                    --Habakkuk 2:2 (emphasis mine)

 

                        Run in such a way that you may win…

                        Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim:

                        I box in such a way, as not beating the air.

                                    --I Corinthians 9:24, 26 (emphasis mine) 

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a family vision to guide you through the parenting and home schooling years.  I’ll be bringing it up again and again in future columns.  I don’t think we can be reminded enough of the importance of having a guiding vision for our home schooling life. 

That’s another useful teaching strategy –repetition. 

In His Sovereign Grace, 

Debra  

Check out Debra's great resources and her book The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.  Kids love to learn with home school, mom-tested resources at Debra Bell's Home School Resource Center Online. 

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