Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Plan Your Work and then Work Your Plan

"Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan. " -  Margaret Thatcher
Every self help guru will tell you that you need to set goals, have a plan and work steadily toward your goals.  Homeschooling is no different.  In fact, what could be more important that training and educating our children?  With something so important we should have a plan and work towards it daily.
Before we started homeschooling we were challenged to have goals for our home and our children and they have helped us stay the course.

Goal planning

“Know where you're going or you'll end up somewhere else.” - Yogi Berra
I'm sure all of us have a saying or two that our parents used on us as kids. You know the one that you can never get out of your head, that if you say it, it immediately brings you back to your childhood. One of the things that I heard often as a child and as a teen was, “Know where you're going or you'll end up somewhere else.” I heard this all the time and in so many different situations. I heard it when I left my homework until the last moment or when I forgot to write down my science fair needs on the grocery list and my Mom had to make a special two hour trip. I heard it when I started driving and I needed to merge into the turn lane. “Know where you're going or you'll end up somewhere else.” was a refrain that was quickly burned into my brain.

Now, as a parent, those words still haunt me with their truth. It's now become so much more important that we have a plan, that we are intentional and that we use the time and resources God has given us with our children for a purpose. Proverbs 22:6 says, “ Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” One of the definitions of training in Websters is , “the act, process, or method of one that trains.” Usually, when one trains there is an end goal in mind and the trainer has a process or methodology for that training. When we are training our kids we should have an end goal in mind and a way to get there. as a homeschooling parent, the lines between educating and parenting are blurred and are often confusing so it is imperative to know what your goals are and stick to them.

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Having a plan gives a focus for Both Parents and Kids

A focus, or a main puropse, helps us to know what we need to work on. It helps us to be intentional. It helps us to communicate to our children what is important to us and then to be deliberate in teaching and training them to our children.

Having a plan gives us the ability to pick and tailor our curriculum. I find this to be really helpful in helping us narrow down our choices. I bring my goals with us to the convention every year. I ask vendors. “ Will your curriculum help us to achieve these goals?” If the answer is yes, we'll look further, if not we move on. It also helps us not be swayed by every new thing on the market.

It can help us judge activities based on our goals. My wonderful husband is much better at this than I am. I get excited by the thought of something new and different. I am sure I can fit everything in. I don't need to sleep. He'll ask me if this activity helps us meets our goals and more often than not, they don't, so we refrain from adding it to our schedule which keeps us from being overbooked and me from losing my mind.

"But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand." Isaiah 32:8

Through out this chapter, I want you to start to create some goals.  This is an all play.  I find it much more helpful if I immediately write things down as then I have a beginning and I can refine later.  I would like you to take a moment and pray before you start this process.  God knows what He needs our goals to be and He can guide you through this.  "Commit to the lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3  Proverbs clearly tells us that God wants us to have plans and as a matter of fact, He will also establish those plans.

Pray for wisdom. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." He is more than happy to give you the wisdom you need to really think though this process, see your family clearly and give you the wisdom to discern  your children's needs.

Family Purpose

Your Family Purpose should be for the long term. This purpose is for long term whether you are pre-kids, you have a house filled with kids or your kids have grown and you are now and empty nester.  This is a life time goal, it defines what you want to be known for.

Here's some questions you can ask your family and talk about together as family to help define this..
a. What does God want for us as a family?
b. What do we want to be known for?

Write an overall purpose statement for your family, making sure it reflects the morals and values of your family.
Start with “Our purpose as a family is....” Make your statement as precise and simple as possible.
Example : “Our purpose as a family is to bring glory to God through the love and choices we make as individuals and corporately as a family.”
Take a moment or two for you to jot down some basic ideas that can be refined later.


Objectives are more detailed than the family purpose statements and speak to the phase of life that you are currently in. For most of that would be the child rearing stage. This is a big picture of how we want our kids to be raised and what we (in a perfect world) would like them to become.  This will take some thinking as we need to imagine our kids graduated, or married and on their own.  We need to imagine what and who we would evision them to be.  I am not talking about careers but the character of our children and what you envision them to stand for.
State in a phrase or sentence an objective in fulfilling your purpose statement. Begin your statement with “to...” and complete your statement in such a way that you would see your purpose statement fulfilled.

Example : “To raise our children to be Godly young men and women filled with integrity and joy, who will be leaders for Christ in their homes, churches and country.”

Some questions to ask yourself are:
a. When my children are going to college what do I want them to be known by?
b. What characteristics are most important for my kids to have when they are grown?
c. Ultimately what kind of people do I want my children to be?
Take a few minutes to answer these questions. You can refine these later but for right now, write down what first comes to your mind.


Goals are the “how to” to get to our Objective and ultimately our Family Purpose. These can change weekly, monthly or yearly depending on need.

Goals for our Home School Journey

My husband and I started fighting, I mean discussing passionately, our children's educational options while we were still engaged. We believe in having pointless discussions long before they are necessary.  You should hear us about college options.  Anyway, I had been homeschooled and Scott had been Private Schooled.  Neither of us wanted our kids to be Public Schooled so that atleast narrowed our choices.  Once we had Connor though, the discussions became far more frequent and neither of us were backing down so when Connor was 2, I peruaded Scott to come with me to a convention.   He was bowled over by the curriculum options and by the Science equipment but wasn't completely convinced.  After the convention, we decided to write down our goals for Connor's education which would allow us to make a better decision.  In hind's sight, it was a good thing that we did the work sooooo early as we had twins the next year and lengthy discussions and debates gave way to midnight feedings by both of us and a serious lack of sleep.  God is so smart.

 We have three overriding goals that we made before our children even started school. These can encompass what you want your children taught, how you want them taught and what you want them to know when they leave our home.  We made a list of our highest priorities and refined  them to three.

As an example, our goals are:
Bible integrated curriculum.  We didn't want the Bible to merely be a subject in the day.  Both Scott and I felt that this was lacking in our education.  We wanted to talk about God in History, in English,  in Science.  We wanted our kids to see how God is involved through out History, how He invites us to join Him and then we wanted them to put it into practice.  He is the Creator and is intimately involved and we want our kids to know that.

We want to teach our kids how to love to learn.  We want them to enjoy the process.  This really was Scott's heart.  He wanted to make sure that the kids became life long learners and that the best way of teaching that was to make it fun and engaging.  To be excited about learning ourselves and to pass that on through to the kids.  To make it hands on and real.  we consider this one of our saftey nets.  We know our kids will have some gaps, but if we teach them that learning is enjoyable then they will continue to learn their entire lives.

Academically rigorous.  We want our kids prepared for whatever God has for them whether that be a phd in linguistics to translate the Bible or a stay at home Mom. This is really important to both of us but it is where my heart lands.  I want our kids to change the world, to affect the next generation, to be God's hands and to go go when and where He calls them.  To do that, I believe that they need to be well educated.  I don't know what God has planned for them but I want them to be able to confidently able to say "yes" to God because they have a firm academic platform under them.  I believe that we can have kids who are Godly and well educated and that is my end goal.

 These goals have steered us through our choice of where to educate our children as well as what to choose to educate them with. We don't go to a convention or buy curriculum without these firmly in hand.  If a curriculum doesnt meet atleast 2 out of the 3 then we dont buy it.

Carefully consider individual goals for each family member. In the summer before each school year starts my husband and I start thinking about these goals and then make goals in three areas, spiritual, personal and academic and have three goals per area. Before you start thinking that I have this formal process and my husband I go away and have a weekend away to set these, we don't.  Sure, it would be great, but life happens at the speed of light around here and it usually happens far less formally.  It might happen as we are driving home from dropping the kids off at Bible Bowl or piano or karate or whatever and I say , " So, honey, it's that time again."
"What time?" he asks.
"Time to set new goals for the kids.", I reply.
"Really?  I thought we just did that?"
"Nope, that was last year.  It's time again."
"Okay, let me think about it and I will get back to you.", He reluctantly says.  "I could have sworn we just talked about it.  Are they picking up their rooms without being told yet?"
"Not by a long shot." I complain.
"Let's put that in the list."  he states.
"Okay, but that's been on the list since they were 3."
"Well, hopefully, this year they will finally get it."
"Can I put you picking up your socks on the list too?" I ask ever so sweetly.
" I thought we were talking about the kids"

We might brainstorm for a day or two and then we will formalize them and type them up.
Example : Here are examples of a past goal list for our oldest son.
Spiritual – self control over his emotions and tongue Gal 5:22-23
Personal – maintain responsibility over belongings (coats, piano bags, sports equipment) Eph 6:1-2
Academic – have multiplication and division tables memorized through 12

Carefully consider these goals and make sure they meet these criteria:
1.Are they biblical?
2.Do I have a verse or moral reason why to support these?
3.Do they fit out purpose as a family?
4.Do they bring glory to God or glory to us?
5. Are they achievable? We don't want to exasperate our children. (Col. 3:21)

Rewards for Goal
At the beginning of the school year my husband and I set new goals for the kids and then on the first day of school we show them to our kids and allow them to pick one goal per area to work on. I have them write them down and post them in an area where they can been seen regularly. Through out the year we periodically pick new goals to work on as the previous ones are accomplished. When a new goal is accomplished the kids may pick a reward. This may be an ice cream date with Mom or Dad or a trip to the toy store for a new toy (within reason, of course) or to the bookstore to pick a new book out. The reward doesn't have to be large but it is important to make sure you reward your kids for accomplishing their goals. It will make them want to continue and keep reaching those goals. It makes it fun and exciting to reach our goals.  I know when I complete my goals, I like to get a reward.  When my husband accomplishes his goals at work, then he is rewarded.  Making the goals manageable and attainable and then rewarding our children will help them the rest of their lives in being deliberate. What a gift that will be to our children, to know how to write goals, and to achieve them.  "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." Prov. 3:27


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