This is a guest post by Crystal Wagner, a featured speaker at the upcoming Stillwater Charlotte Mason Homeschool Retreat on January 10-11, 2020. For more information or to get registered, click on the “SCM Retreat” tab above.
My husband and I spread a blanket on the grass, pulled out our boxed lunches, and prayed that God would provide us with wisdom and guidance as we endeavored to answer the questions, “Why are we homeschooling? What is our purpose? What do we want to include in our home education program of studies?” We had already committed to homeschooling our children and were proceeding with a Charlotte Mason approach to preschool when we wrote out our homeschool mission statement, or our “Homeschool Why.”
At some point in her homeschool journey, every homeschool mom will hear the question, “Why do you homeschool?” Sometimes the question comes from moms who are curious about homeschooling and are seeking to learn more about this educational alternative. In my experience, it often comes up in a conversation with other homeschool moms in a similar manner that birth stories do. Homeschooling is a significant aspect of our family’s lives and identity, so we naturally want to talk about it and share our experiences with others.
You may have started homeschooling out of necessity. Or, maybe you had a vision of how you wanted your children to learn, and a traditional school setting would not help you achieve that vision. Your reasons and motives for homeschooling may have even changed over the years. Mine did! Regardless of why you started homeschooling, it is imperative that you invest time to create a vision for your homeschool.
Begin with the End in Mind. -Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey’s second habit (in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) is to begin with the end in mind. When you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, you can make a plan to get there and have a basis for evaluating your progress.
Establishing our end goal was what my husband and I did at a weekend getaway when we endeavored to answer the question, “Why?” The time we invested to define our goals and objectives has proven invaluable over the past eleven years.
Benefits Of Writing Your Homeschool Mission Statement
There are many benefits of writing your homeschool mission statement, but the following three reasons have most impacted our homeschool.
It helps you plan your homeschool year.
You could research and choose a homeschool curriculum without a mission statement, and it might be a good fit for your family. It might even provide an excellent education for your children. But without a clearly defined objective, you will not be able to evaluate your homeschool plans and curriculum effectively. You will not have a standard against which to measure your progress. You will merely be checking the boxes of what you think you should be doing. A homeschool mission statement provides a starting point for making decisions about what curriculum to use and how to plan and schedule your homeschool year.
By knowing what we want to achieve, I can evaluate curriculum and activities against our homeschool mission statement. For example, because I know that I want my children to learn in a developmentally appropriate manner, to develop critical thinking skills, and to develop a lifelong love of learning, I can evaluate math curriculums easier. I know at a glance that some math curriculums are not appropriate for my children because of the way they present information or because it lacks word problems.
There are multiple routes to the same endpoint.
Sometimes there is only one road to reach a destination, but usually, there are multiple routes that lead to the same destination. The same is true of education. Occasionally there is only one way to master a skill and acquire learning about a subject. Most of the time, there is a multitude of ways to achieve the same result.
In our homeschool, I have seen this play out repeatedly. One of my daughters loves mathematical patterns and languages. The resources I utilize for her education are different than the resources I choose for my other daughter, who has a gift of spatial awareness and an interest in science and medicine. Their routes are different, but the goal is the same.
Our goal is that when they graduate from our homeschool, they will
- love learning and will continue to do so throughout their lives.
- be able to think critically about problems they encounter in their personal and professional lives.
- be diligent in their endeavors, persevere through challenges, and seek excellence in all that they do.
There are a variety of ways to achieve these goals. Knowing the end goal allows me flexibility in choosing the path that will best suit each of my children.
It provides encouragement when you have difficult days.
There will be difficult days. It’s not a matter of if but when and how often. There were many times when my children were younger that I thought, “Man, it sure would be nice to go to the store alone.” Now that they are older, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Having an outside source of accountability would make it so much easier to develop this character trait.”
I know deep in my heart that as alluring as the yellow school bus can be, it’s not the answer to solve my problems, but it is very tempting some days. By keeping my homeschool mission statement in mind, I can remind myself why we embarked on this challenging and rewarding journey. I can choose to focus on what will help us achieve our goals.
Why do you homeschool? Your answer should be more than a surface-level response to a casual conversation. When you invest the time and effort to develop your homeschool mission statement, you will have a roadmap for your children’s educational journey and a means of refreshment for difficult homeschool days.
If you do not have a homeschool mission statement yet, this post walks you through the process step-by-step. Your homeschool mission statement is your answer to the question, “Why? Why do you homeschool?”
Crystal Wagner is a recovering perfectionist. At one time, she believed she needed to do ALL.THE.THINGS. And she was overwhelmed and exhausted.
After much prayer, research, and tears, she learned how to prioritize, keep the end goal in mind, and take it one day at a time. She now rests in knowing that she is doing enough!
Now, she helps busy homeschool moms simplify their lives and homeschools so they can create a homeschool they love. You can connect with her at: https://www.triumphantlearning.com/.