Engaging your children in the Mission
Welcome back!! I’m excited to move on with our look at relationships.
Since we started this class together, you have been challenged to take a fresh look at your calling and really commit yourself to following it and trusting God to give you the strength and wisdom to do it well. You’ve heard about some of the benefits for your children that come when you focus on homeschool subjects instead of academics, and you’ve been warned about not sacrificing your marriage on the altar of homeschooling. You’ve started laying a really solid foundation for homeschooling your precious children, and I am so excited for you.
I hope that you see why I said at the beginning that homeschooling for the heart really is a natural, intuitive exercise— when you don’t over complicate it and get your priorities and focus out of order.
In some families, starting homeschooling is no big leap. Before your children were ever conceived, you agreed that they will be homeschooled all the way through. so the expectation and anticipation for your children has always included homeschool.
But for many others, homeschooling is or was a new concept for your kiddos — just as it was for you and your spouse when you first started thinking about it, and it may even be an unwelcome one as most of us REEALLY don’t love change.
You don’t want to allow any feelings of dread, fear, frustration, etc. to take root and then have bitterness towards you grow up there. As parents (_specifically fathers_,) one of our directives in scripture is not to provoke our children to wrath, which literally means don’t exasperate them or make them bitter.
So, how do we avoid that if our children are really not wanting to transition to or to continue homeschooling? What if they can’t believe you would keep them away from their friends… their routine… their activities… Do we allow their feelings to derail our pursuit of the mission God has given us? None of us delight in making our kiddos unhappy, right?
Here is another place where a knowledge of your mission and a commitment TOGETHER to pursue the plan God has given you is so very important.
Ultimately, it’s parents who are accountable for the way your family is set up and runs, though in an ideal world, your children will be on board as well— at least eventually.
So, the preparation with your children may even start before you kick off the new school year. Start having conversations with them about how God is leading you. Listen to their heart in the matter. Ask questions. Don’t judge.
Remember that God can work in their heart just as He did in both of yours, but also don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not dealing with an adult— you’re talking to a child, whose perspective is so much more limited than yours.
Be gracious. Get their ideas for what they’d like to see. Work together on some of the specifics, so they feel like you’re taking their feelings and thoughts into consideration. **Being listened to by mom and dad while they’re young goes a LONG WAY towards building super strong relationships with your children as teenagers and young adults— AND it will start your homeschool off on the right foot…** even if you don’t come to a complete agreement on the subject. Honestly, sometimes it does end up starting off as an “obedience” and “honor” issue.
But, you are about to be given the gift of a LOT more time to spend investing in your child and building on your relationship with him. Be sincere and transparent with your child. Let them know why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you hope to gain by it.
**And that’s the ANCHOR you need to drop here—> Get your children engaged in the mission in whatever way is appropriate at their age and stage.**
Since we started homeschooling when our children were young that meant telling them from the very beginning that daddy and I wanted to spend more time with them, and we wanted the freedom to help them learn in the way they enjoy most. That actually got them excited about the possibilities— and they started giving US ideas about what we could do.
Which leads us to (drum roll please…) the actual academic teaching part of home education…
Wouldn’t it be GLORIOUS if there was a checklist for homeschooling that made it super easy and similar for everyone?
Sadly, that list doesn’t exist— but then again, since the completely personalized nature and freedom of homeschooling are some of its strong suits, would we REALLY want a checklist to follow?!?
Nevertheless, there are some things to consider on the first day of a mission-focused homeschool. The order of importance of these things will certainly vary from family to family and will depend on the way you’re entering homeschool. If your children have been in “traditional” school, and especially if they spent the last quarter of school “learning at home,” you’ll want to help them make the transition to the freedom and awesomeness of homeschooling. It could definitely rock your world and theirs, so give yourself plenty of time to make that adjustment.
This first point to discuss here is more of a preliminary point— a warning if you will! Don’t ever try to just recreate “school” at home. Remember that there are some big differences between a corporate school and a home school— and trying to mingle the two of them may well prove confusing and frustrating to you and your children alike.
I was totally guilty of this when we first started. Though I didn’t have an actual classroom, I planned to start each day basically with homeroom-type activiities… just like I had in school… I had purchased actual school desks for each child…. and I had taken the time to plan the entire year’s worth of lesson plans before we started. I was SO STINKING excited to be able to play school as an adult! 🙂
The problem was… we weren’t IN school. I didn’t need the structure that is baked into a traditional classroom, because I was there with only my children. I didn’t need to plan for every minute of every day, because learning happens naturally. I didn’t have to “Play Teacher”— I WAS the teacher— in fact, I was the same teacher that had been teaching them every single day of their lives.
Once I relaxed my view of what “school” should look like, we all enjoyed the process so much more. Later in this class, we’re going to look at a lot more of the nuts and bolts of homeschooling, so we’ll dive into ways to set up your classroom, organize your day and your stuff, and a whole lot more. Stay tuned!
So with the freedom that comes with NOT simply recreating “traditional” school at home, you can allow yourself the time to do what you actually SHOULD be doing on your first day of school— possibly the first few weeks of school.
Take the time to get to know your children better. Remember, up to this point, you’ve not interacted with them in this exact way most likely, so allow yourself enough time to adequately transition into your new educational arrangement by spending time together.
When the kids were younger, David and I would plan a “fall retreat” the first weekend of school. That was a purposeful time where we would have fun together, learn and laugh together, explain our heart and plan for the year together, and really kick the year off on the right foot.
During that weekend, I would often ask the kids what their goals were for the year, because that gave me great insight into where they wanted to see themselves by the end of it and helped me tailor the year, when appropriate, to help them achieve those goals.
Whether you take a “fall retreat” or you simply plan some fun things together that first week of school, I encourage you to take advantage of the relational benefits of being together in that way— and start the exciting process of getting to know your children on a deeper level than you ever deemed possible.
Whether you have been homeschooling or not, you may find yourselves in a situation where you need to start school with a little bit of “deschooling.” If your children have had a rough time with however you have approached school before, whether you were homeschooling with the wrong focus and heart or you just pulled your children out of a traditional school environment, the first step in your new homeschool year may simply be to change their perception of what school is.
If your child has been in a traditional school, remember that that environment is built around degreed, certified, and trained teachers and a very rigid schedule. It’s not a personalized experience, so your child may have gotten “lost” in the crowd there.
As you kick off your new homeschool year, it’s a good practice to take the time to read together— a lot! You may want to front load the year with some fun subjects like literature, history, or science, where read alouds and experiments really lend to a love of learning. Even as my children got older, we would read a lot of history aloud together.
Deep dive together into whatever element of what you’re talking about piques their interest by searching images on the internet or trying to learn more. Help them (and YOURSELF!) understand the joys that come with learning— and especially learning together! You have permission to be the super cool, fun parent as you homeschool, AND you get to witness the light bulbs coming on as your children learn new things!! It’s SUCH a great job!
Include dad (_or mom if dad is the one doing the homeschooling_!) in what you’re learning. I remember when David would come home from work when the kids were young, and they would basically dog pile him to fill him in on what they learned, what they were working on, etc.
Giving them the opportunity to “teach” daddy not only expanded their love of learning and their excitement about homeschooling, but it also re-inforces the concepts or facts they’ve learned, AND it gives your family even more to talk about. Some of our dinner conversations today still echo back to some of the early things we learned together.
Finally, give lots of grace on those first days of school. This is uncharted territory for everyone. Don’t push too hard. Don’t plan too much. Relax. Breathe. Don’t fret if you start later than you planned. You’re learning, remember.
TOGETHER, you’ll find your way to a new routine soon enough— cherish these precious moments and don’t worry about the small stuff that doesn’t seem picture perfect in the moment!
In the resources with this lesson, you’ll find some ideas for brainstorming how your school can be set up. Engage your children in it. You may find that you get some real silly answers— (my boys used to ask for a trampoline floor for wherever we were doing school each year…) but you’ll also get some great ideas and insights— straight from the mouths of babes. 🙂
Engaging Your Children In The Mission
Part of the fun of being families on mission is engaging your children in that mission, and as a heart schooler that should be a priority for you. We’ll discuss how to do that practically in today’s lesson.