We often jump into homeschooling with two feet and not much else. A few people may have put in long hours of pre-study and know going in exactly how everything is going to proceed. Except, it often does not go according to their well laid plans. Homeschooling, like the rest of life, is full of surprises. We do not need to let these surprises turn us towards doubt. Nothing takes the life out of homeschool like a parent who doubts whether they can and should be doing it.
One of the ways we can shut the door on these constant festering doubts is to have a really clear vision statement. A notecard sized composition, by you, stating what you believe about education, why you are homeschooling, and how you plan to do it. It sounds like a lot for a notecard, but the process of condensing our ideas can bring a lot of clarity. You will need that clarity as you wade through all the daily, weekly, and yearly choices that come with homeschooling. Because there is so much freedom in homeschooling, it can be easy to succumb to decision fatigue. Having a little card that reminds you what you believe is a great way to help you pass up on ideas that are not a good fit. This card can also be fantastic when you think you feel like you are off track and failing, just pull it out, you may find that you are doing what you set out to do, it may just look and feel a little different than you expected.
To start creating your vision statement, brainstorm the following questions. Be as brief as possible, but include as many ideas as you need to, you can cut out bits later to shorten if needed.
1) How do you believe children learn?
2) What do you believe children need to learn?
3) What attitudes toward learning do you want your children to have?
4) When should children learn?
5) Why should children learn?
Now you either have a long paper, a blank page, or a cute little vision statement. If you have a blank page, I suggest you still need to do some reading and research to help form your beliefs. You do not have to answer all of the questions in your statement, but answering them all will help you include anything that is important to you.
This vision statement can help keep you on track. You can read it every time you think you are failing. You may not be failing at all when you hold yourself up to your own vision statement. Often our feelings of failure are provoked from outside sources, whose goals have no alignment with our own. To shut-off the comparison game, we need to make our voice loud and clear. We may need to read our own vision every day for a time, until we have firmly cemented it into our hearts and souls and can simply recall it when we need to turn off the comparison games.
Also, before you buy any homeschooling materials, whether it is a complete curriculum, or just one more supplement, read your statement. Does what you plan to buy line up with your vision statement? This may seem like a silly exercise, but I swear it can save you a lot of money, if it doesn’t line up, you are probably not going to use it.
Below is my mission statement, included as an example ONLY…you need your own, you cannot just adopt my beliefs, you need to define your own. But sometimes an example can really help get the ball rolling in your own head. You will notice I do not directly address every question above. My card contains only what is important to me, which seems to all fit nicely into the how category. I do care about what they learn, but to me it is a detail I keep in mind when I plan or choose curriculum. This card is for the big picture.
Know to unknown
seeing, hearing, touching pathways
knowledge & learning are highly valued
I know, it looks like chicken scratch, but I know what it means, and it is super powerful. I taped this card to the inside pocket of a 3-ring binder where I keep homeschool related notes and organizational materials. This card is a ticket to calm on stormy days.