One of the first questions I am asked when a new acquaintance learns that I homeschool my three daughters is, “Why did you decide to homeschool?” You know the question–and the furrowed brows that often accompany it. We’ve all been there. It gets more interesting for me when the inquisitor finds out that both my husband and I were also homeschooled. Even though it’s no fun constantly being questioned about our choice, we’re usually prepared to answer without hesitation. After all, we had to convince ourselves first before embarking on the homeschooling journey. Then we probably had to make a persuasive case to close friends, family members, or maybe even a spouse. Knowing your “why” helps you decide to homeschool. However, once you’ve made that decision, you open up a whole new box of questions. Questions like:
- What is my teaching style? What are my children’s learning styles?
- What curriculum should we use? What “kind” of homeschooler am I?
- What enrichment activities should my children participate in?
- Will we use public options or not? Do we want to join any co-op opportunities?
- What about that homeschooling supermom? Should I be doing what she’s doing?
- What if I’m not doing it right? How do I know what’s right for us?
Creating a homeschool mission statement helps you decide how to homeschool. When you (and your spouse) are clear about what components make up your family’s homeshool mission, the many decisions that follow will be much easier to manage.
What Is Our Homeschool Mission?
Even though my husband and I both had a positive experience being homeschooled, I struggled with the decision when the time came. After we got married, I dove into a time-consuming career in journalism. By the time the homeschooling discussion came up again, I was a work-at-home mom of two children under age three. We knew why we wanted to homeschool, but when I thought about all the other decisions I would have to make, I didn’t think I was ready. So we enrolled our girls in a private Christian preschool, then a Catholic elementary school.
When we finally decided to start homeschooling three years ago, I was immediately overwhelmed by curriculum choices, educational methods, learning styles, daily schedule variances, and everything else that homeschoolers debate about these days. Compared to the late ’80s when my mom homeschooled, options and resources are now vast and diverse–how would I choose? I quickly found myself filled with self-doubt, constantly comparing myself to others. Eventually, it became clear that we needed to define our mission for homeschooling. What was God uniquely calling us to do as homeschooling parents? I realized the question was not what could we do with our homeschool, but what should we do? God has been faithful to lead us to His answers for our family. He was leading me to center my entire educational plan–from the method to the content and context–around His Word, and it wasn’t enough to simply add a Bible time to our day or purchase Christian curriculum. After all, was my goal to raise excellent academic minds, or to inspire hearts to become Christ-following servants equipped for God’s purpose? I realized that our mission to homeschool was so much more than what I understood it to be when I was my mother’s student. It’s not just about providing a “better” education, like I believed when I was a college freshman giving a persuasive speech about homeschooling in my Oral Com class. Our mission isn’t simply to pursue knowledge, but to pursue God’s wisdom and prepare our children to become God’s effective servants. We want our daughters to grow confident in Christ and the unique role that God created them to fulfill for His greater glory.
These verses are at the core of my homeschooling mission:
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” — Proverbs 22:6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” — Mark 8:36
Defining Your Homeschool Mission
I know every homeschooling family’s mission will be unique to them, and I don’t expect everyone to view homeschooling the way I see it. But that is the beauty of it all: Homeschooling is about the heart of your family–how you uniquely operate. Whatever homeschooling means to you, trust that God has equipped you for your particular journey. Questions to pray about and discuss with your spouse:
- What is the most important reason that we’ve decided to homeschool?
- What other benefits of homeschooling are very important to us?
- Are we on the same page about why we are homeschooling? What still needs to be clarified?
- What are our non-negotiables for how we will homeschool? What areas are flexible?
- What criteria should we use to evaluate our efforts and results?
- How will we approach schooling the different ages and learning styles of our children?
- How can we work together? How will we manage the workload of homeschooling around our other responsibilities?
- What are we willing to live without in order to accommodate homeschooling?
- Are there any reasons why we might stop homeschooling?
As you answer these questions together, your homeschool mission will become clear. Then put your mission statement on paper and share it with your children. They should also be clear about the “why” and “how” of your homeschool. Once your mission statement is established, you can use it to guide you in evaluating decisions such as curriculum choices, teaching methods, scheduling, co-ops, extracurricular activities, etc. And when “life happens,” your mission statement can also help you adjust and re-prioritize where necessary during challenging times. Defining our mission helped my husband and me navigate through some difficult months last year. It’s also helped guide us as we struggle to stay afloat financially. We’ve made curriculum changes that fit our mission and our family’s learning/teaching styles. We’ve cut back on enrichment activities to focus on those that support our mission (such as Worship Dance, Christ-centered PE Plus, and AWANA). The only co-op we’re participating in is the girls book club I started last fall. We’re having our smoothest homeschooling year yet, and I finally have peace about what we are doing. Have you defined your homeschool mission? If so, is it an “understanding” or is it on paper? Do your children know the details of your mission? Or are you still searching for answers to some of these questions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.