Home schooling is like designing your own puzzle. With each member of the family, commitment on the calendar, activity to be involved in, and all the daily routines of chores, meals, and play comes a piece to the puzzle.
When I started to research home schooling, I relied on the good-ol’-standby-mirroring trick of looking at the “good pieces” of someone else’s puzzle and copying their pieces to add to my puzzle.
It took me years to realize that all I had was a mountain of pieces and no possible way to make one puzzle out of them.
My philosophies were mixed and conflicting, our commitments were more in quantity than quality, and I didn’t know what our goals were.
When I would read and watch other home schooling families, my attention was on the details – how do you teach reading, or when do you read-aloud? I never stepped back to see or ask what their big picture was.
All I had was pieces, no unifying picture to match them to. And more than that, I didn’t know what our big picture would be.
This is about the time (3 years ago) that I went to my first Great Homeschool Convention. Everything changed that year – in more way than one. I was pregnant with our third child at the time, and soon after the convention I went on bed rest. The amount of time I was given to think, pray, and ponder our big picture significantly increased because of this sacred time of rest.
Now, if you’re resonating with my puzzle piece but no picture dilemma, then hear me when I say that there is no fast and easy way to solve it.
For me, I had to move all the pieces I was collecting to the side and start by defining what the major pieces of the puzzle were. Kind of like finding the 4 corners to start the outline.
For now, our 4-corners are: relationships, reading, real discussions, and rest. These are the categories that everything we do will be filtered through. So as I plan for what we will learn, where we will go, what commitments we have – everything comes back to these.
Relationships: my children are still young and building trust and bonds as a family unit are vital. A solid foundation isn’t established by accident. It’s important for my kids to know how much I value them. So even though it bothered me to put our kindergarten language arts curriculum aside, it was more important for me to build a bridge of grace to my daughter’s heart that was strong enough for the truth that “learning is sometime work and that’s okay” to reach her. Guarding our relationships from internal and external threats is a high priority of mine.
Reading: we have found it to be true that when we engage with good books we grow. Our minds are stretched, our curiosities are fed, and as Rea Berg said:
Good books will develop our moral imagination which leads to empathy and compassion. These build up the person from within and become the measure of success of an education.
She also said:
There are 2 things in life that will change you – the books you read and the people you meet.
Real Discussions: an easy thing to miss in life is the opportunities to have meaningful discussions. Often times with little children, they choose the most inconvenient times (from my perspective) to ask the important questions weighing on their little minds. Dr. Kathy Koch said that on average a 6-year old asks fewer questions than a 3-year old because they have learned that their questions don’t matter – that their desire to know more isn’t a priority. This is a tragedy. Curiosity is one of the qualities of a genius. So the reason this is 1 of the 4 corners for us is taking the time to fuel my children’s curiosities and build trust with them through listening to them. I want to honor their desire to learn even if what they are interested in has nothing to do with what was on my “schedule” for the day.
Also, real discussions includes talking about my life and choices, sharing and exposing in sensitive ways the hurts, failures, and sins have changed and molded who I am today.
Rest: we all need sleep right? Well, sometimes I forget to plan for real rest. This has been a personal area of growth for me, and I’m seeing how it applies to raising my children well. We all need a healthy balance of work and rest. Rest is commanded by God and fulfilled in Jesus Christ – so for our family I want to model and train my children to honor rest. To honor God by living well within the boundaries the He has defined. Rest plays a big part in our daily rhythm in balancing indoor and outdoor play, quiet time and silly-fun-music time. It’s important to teach what it means to be fully awake and aware of our surroundings too.
So there they are: our 4-corners for now. I’ve had to learn a lot of this through failure, and I still have gone back to mirroring other families a few times. But slow progress and baby steps are still better than nothing.
And making choices based on right thinking has a deeper and longer lasting effect than basing my decisions on how I feel – either on my own or by comparison.
I wrote this a little while back in the learning process:
Comparison is not only the thief of joy, but also the jailer locking you in inactivity. Just because my friend is able to set what I think is “higher” goals for her family, doesn’t mean that my goals are “lower” and inferior. The more I set goals that are attainable, the more success will inspire me to set higher and higher goals. At the end of the day, it’s not about how impressed you are with me – it’s how satisfied I am with myself.
This week it’s time to start planning, and my hope is that by sharing my big picture it will inspire you to examine both your big picture and the puzzle pieces that will get you there.
This is Day 10 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.
- For more help in seeing your big picture, consider reading through the Educational Theories Defined series. It isn’t finished yet, so bookmark the index for seeing the last few defined. This series can help confirm the philosophy of education that feels best for you.
- Encouragement to set aside the comparisons and focus on your home :: One room schoolhouse philosophy
- I found out that it was okay to let go of “the box” :: Allowing your child to think (& learn) outside the box
- My education is as important as theirs, especially when I’m learning them :: Maybe she waited all day… My story about learning to show my daughter that I value her.
- Sarah McKenzie shares her Big Picture Goals on her blog Amongst Lovely Things
- The Dates and Keynote speakers have been announced on the Great Homeschool Convention’s website.
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