Homeschooling is a game that has to be played with the long view.

When a day goes well, it’s tempting to rejoice in the assumption that we obviously got everything right and finally have a plan that works. Now, we think, every day will now go swimmingly, because clearly our good plan is in place. We’ve got this gig figured out at last.

When a day goes poorly, it’s easy to question everything from our own abilities to our children’s hearts to our curriculum – or all of it combined. If we could figure out the root of the problem, we could make bad days go away forever, we think.

But the days are bound to come to us both good and bad and they will usually be both mixed together.

To keep us on the right track, moving forward however slowly, we need to keep our eyes on the end we’re after. We must begin with the end in mind.

Beginning with the end in mind is envisioning what you want in the future so that you know specifically what you’re working toward. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not likely to get there.

What is the end?

end, noun

  1. a final part of something, especially a period of time, an activity, or a story
  2. the furthest or most extreme part or point of something
  3. a goal or result that one seeks to achieve

Begin with the goal in mind

The goal of homeschooling is to educate our children.

And what is education? It is not simply being able to add, subtract, and read. To be educated is to be given intellectual, moral, and social instruction. Someone who is educated knows how the world operates, not only on a scientific level, but on a human, social, relational level as well – it is growth in wisdom.

So the stories our children imbibe everywhere – from us, from books, from movies, from television, from church, from friends – are all educating them – giving them moral, social, and intellectual sense.

The consequences that happen to our children when they hit a sibling, lose a library book, tell a lie – these also are teaching them about how the world work. Cause and effect.

Playing at the park, reading a book, digging in the garden, picking peaches at an orchard, sweeping the floor, helping a toddler with her shoes – all these are experiences that build up an education. Of course the math sense, the scientific sense, the grammar sense, the history sense also educate. Studies, experiences, stories, and life all work together to fill our minds and our children’s minds with wonder, knowledge, and wisdom.

When we realize our goal is an educated child, we must consider not only the math and spelling curriculums that go into our day, but the entirety of life. We must take a holistic perspective as we plan and prepare.

Begin with the extreme point in mind

What is the point of homeschooling for you?

The definition of “point” as used in this context is “advantage or purpose that can be gained.” Algebra is algebra whether you learn it at home or at a day school. What is the advantage to be gained from homeschooling? Why choose it over a day school?

Your answer might be relationship or discipleship. Your answer might be customization or individual and independent learning. Your answer might be being able to study ahead of grade or study below grade, as the particular case may be. Your answer might be to make a traveling or a rural lifestyle possible.

Why is homeschooling the right educational choice for your family? What is the biggest benefit it offers for you?

Keep that reason forefront in your mind. It will buoy you up on the bad days. It will keep you on your path when someone else’s choices look more impressive or compelling.

You must know your why if you want to stay the course.

Begin with the final story in mind

The final story of homeschooling is grown adults, functioning in the world.

One good question Sarah Mackenzie once asked was, “What do you want your kids to say about your homeschool when they’re grown?”

That question gets us to imagine the end and examine what we want most as we homeschool.

And, of course, to function in the world they must have their math and their reading and their writing skills. None of the previous ends preclude or supplant actual skill development.

However, as mothers who are responsible for the academic, character, and relational development of our children, we will make a better plan and keep our sanity better if we keep all the ends in mind together and do not let one area overshadow the other. It’s easy to push the checklist to the detriment of our relationship, or use “character development” and “discipleship” as a cop out for not doing the work when it’s hard or distasteful (which is ironic, because that accomplishes the opposite).

We have multiple threads that we have to keep weaving together, without letting one go. That doesn’t have to be overwhelming when the plan we begin with takes them all into account.

Do you know what your end is your homeschool?

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