How we planned school this year and what I learned (Part 1)

A couple of months ago I shared a little about how weary I was at the end of last year.  Basically, I felt burnt out. 

While that was going on, my caring husband stepped in to take things off my plate.  When I couldn't bear to look at my notes or prepare a thing for the fall, Mark was thinking and praying and taking notes and planning things, and then he began talking to me about his ideas and I have gradually eased back into it.


I used to work for a company that made planners for schoolchildren.  Franklin Covey bought us out and the lingo was all from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  One of those habits is: Begin with the end in mind.

When we began planning this year, we were not consciously thinking of that habit, but in essence, that is what we did.  We began with the end in mind.  In our first planning session together, Mark set aside everything else and asked questions like, "Who do we want our children to be?  What are the qualities we would like our kids to have?  What are the things we see in each of them that we could encourage?"  Because honestly, the academics are completely secondary to us.  Of course we feel a responsibility to educate them and we are doing that, but it is absolutely secondary to WHO they are as persons.  We desire to pass on to our kids a love of learning, and we want to give them an appetite for it.  We can whet their appetites by reading excellent books and discussing great ideas and allowing them the space to create and invent and think.  But our pursuit has never been and never will be the best program or the smartest kids.  Our desire- and the whole reason we're even homeschooling at all- is to create more opportunities for us to impart Jesus to them.

If our kids are brilliant and excelling academically and yet consistently unkind to their siblings, then our focus is wrong.  And, while I don't think academics IS our focus around here, we did notice over the summer that I was saying this more than anything else: "Please speak kindly to each other." (Or some variation on that general theme.)  (Which is why we very intentionally prepared our new memory work this year: we're laying down the foundations of who we are (our family ways) and more importantly, why (because God says so in His Word)).

So when we planned for our year, we backed way up and asked those questions about who we want to be, about the gifts we see God has given each of our children and how we can encourage those, and about the weak areas, too-- how can we grow there?  How can we be purposeful and intentional in those areas?  God has entrusted these precious five to us for this relatively short season of their lives, and our purpose while they're with us is to teach them His ways, and we want to be diligent in the pursuit of that.

I'm not aware of anywhere in the Bible where it says we must teach our children Latin or Shakespeare or Grammar or Math or any of the other myriad of subjects we may teach.  But all over Scripture we are told to teach our children to love God and to love our neighbor.  So we're in the business of that.  That doesn't mean we won't teach the other subjects, it just means that they will be secondary in our home to the pursuit of loving God and loving one another.

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