Alright, now we are going to get into the first tangible steps of planning the next school year. If this is your first year homeschooling, then just skip this first evaluation of your current homeschool year. In Evaluate you are going to take a look at your current school year and see what you can glean for next year. You are also going to take some time to evaluate each of your children. Finally, you are going to reevaluate “your why” or write “your why” for the first time if you’ve never done this before.
Evaluate Your Current Homeschool Year:
Before moving on to next year it is valuable to take a hard look at this past year by evaluating how it went. It’s hard sometimes to be honest about failures and weaknesses. And for others it’s hard to not always be critical, I’m guilty of this - it’s easier for me to look at what went wrong in the year rather than seeing all the great things that were accomplished. For me, taking a look back helps me see the good and not just see my disappointments.
Take some time to reflect on your current homeschool year. Use the questions below to help you evaluate.
Next you need to spend some time focusing on each of your children. It’s important to take an honest look at where they are at. It’s okay to say they really stink at spelling or maybe attitude and character are more important than those latin lessons. It’s hard during the day in and day out to always see who they are becoming. By taking some time to evaluate, you can get in touch with how they are doing.
It is also important to take some time to consider how each child learns. The 3 main ways a child learns are:
Though you can customize homeschool curriculum for each individual child, it is also important to help your children become more skilled at learning in the various ways that are not their strengths. Sometime in their future they may have to learn in ways that don’t come as natural to them. Help them see how their learning style affects how they process information. This is a great life skill that will aid them in the future.
Finally, take some time to look at the heart of your child. Your “job” as Christian parents is to encourage them in their walk with the Lord. You need to be encouraging their strengths while gently pointing out their weaknesses. Character traits, life skills, and growth with the Lord are the most important parts of your homeschool. These aspects form the foundations of discipleship. Sadly, these are often the areas first overlooked.
By taking the time to evaluate where your children are in their character, life skills, and walk with the Lord shapes your vision for the upcoming school year. Staying on top of these foundations can shift and change throughout the homeschool year. Your plans may require re-focus as a particular character trait needs focus, a life skill opportunity arises, or your child or family has a monumental spiritual experience. I encourage both you and your spouse to take the time to re-evaluate on a monthly basis the spiritual pulse of your children. By taking the time to evaluate you both grasp where encouragement or correction needs to be made, and can adjust schooling focus as the year unfolds.
Scripture memorization is a great tool to use as you help your children grow in the Lord. The planning of memory verses based on your children’s needs is powerful.
On the following pages you will find an evaluation for each child. Take time to pray through and answer these questions. Talk with your spouse about these evaluations and see if they have anything to add. The clearer the picture you have of each child’s wellbeing the more prepared you will be for the coming year.
On a side note, I often take these evaluations to my children and talk through it with them. I’ve learned a lot by talking with my kids about themselves. We can often pinpoint why issues are arising just by taking the time to talk. I also love hearing about their favorite and least favorite part of the homeschool year. It’s another guide in planning the coming homeschool year.
Child #: _______________________________________________
If I have one “hot topic” in homeschooling, Knowing Your Why is it. I’ve been homeschooling for a long time, over a decade now and I have sadly watched countless families start off homeschooling with great intentions but lose sight of why they started homeschooling in the first place. They end up giving up on homeschooling altogether. Homeschooling is full of highs and lows. Knowing Your Why helps you endure the lows and celebrate the highs.
You have no where to set your focus when you aim at nothing. Knowing the Lord has called you to homeschool is not enough. You must deep down intentionally and continually remember why you have chosen this unconventional way of family life. I want to start by making sure we are all on the same page with two crucial statements:
1. Education is NEVER neutral
There is always an agenda behind everything taught. The Bible is clear that you are either for Christ or against Him. There is no middle ground and the same is true with the education of your children. Martin Luther said "I am much afraid that schools will prove the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt." You must realize that the education of your children is to be guarded carefully. Be wise and seek Godly advice on what to teach, which curriculums to use, and what voices you allow in your home.
2. Education is ALWAYS discipleship
Whomever you allow to educate your children has the power to disciple your children. Therefore, Homeschooling puts a large weight on your shoulders. Keep in mind that the Lord has already put this weight on your shoulders. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says:
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
As parents you are commanded to teach your children about the Lord when you sit at home, when you are out, when you lie down and when you get up. That covers ALL day. As a homeschool family, you are given the unique opportunity to have your children with you all the time. This means you can follow this scripture to the fullest degree by surrounding your children daily in The Word. In teaching science - God is the Author and Creator of life. Science points to Christ. In teaching history - The Lord has numbered our days and allowed all of history to happen. His finger print is all over history. History points to Christ. In teaching math. God is a God of order and logic. Math points to Christ. All subjects either point to Christ or away from Christ. You need to take up the charge of this passage to be sure that in all ways in all our days with our children you are pointing your family back to your Savior.
Let’s return back to the question at hand -
What is Your Why? I challenge all Christian families that THE WHY of homeschooling should not be academic excellence (though there is nothing wrong with an academic education). If at the end of high school your children know more about American History, Chemistry, or Algebra than they know the Word of God, then you have failed. If your children's education is not founded on faith, discipling our children daily in the foundation of the Word of God then what is the point in bringing them home? You need to recognize that you are not just homeschooling your children for a diploma, you are homeschooling your children do be disciples. Your number one goal as parents should be to raise children who love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Why would THE WHY of homeschooling be anything different?
The methods in which you do this will vary from other homeschool families, however the foundations should be the same. How beautiful to be in a community of God fearing families with the same WHY - to grow their children into passionate followers of Christ!
This is your Why and without it your homeschool will crumble. There will come hard days in homeschooling and when they come you need to have the truth of why you are homeschooling to fall back on. Some school days will go horribly wrong, but if you have pointed your children to Christ, have taken the time to read scripture, and discuss together, then you have been an example of what a follower of Christ looks like. Your day is NEVER waisted!
A few other verses for you to ponder as you consider THE WHY for your family and the Lord’s instruction to parents on teaching their children His Word:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
1 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old--
3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
The homeschool world is big and there are lots of flashy curriculums, ideas, and concepts. It is so easy to get lost in the maze and not know which way is up or down. Knowing your “Why” is the most important piece of the homeschooling puzzle. It is so easy to be swayed by every flashy curriculum or smooth talking blogger on the internet.
If you have never written a “Why” statement before, don’t worry it’s simple and their are no wrong answers! Your family is uniquely made with no two homeschools alike. You need to decide what you are. Of course being called by the Lord to homeschool your children should be at the top of this list, but what other things will make your homeschool uniquely yours? Is your family passionate about apologetics? Add that to your “Why.” Passionate about the outdoors? Add that to your “Why.” Is science a love in your family? Your homeschool “Why” should have a lot of science in it. Do you love reading living books? Add that to your why. Your homeschool year should be filled with reading living books. This “Why” is your rudder by which you sail your homeschool ship. The directions are made. You stay on course by this “Why.” Take time to figure out what the most important things are for your “Why.” Make sure you and your spouse agree on your “Why.” Write it down on the following page.
If you have already written out your “Why” statement, then take time to re-evaluate it. Did you hold to your “Why” throughout this school year? How will you shape next year based upon your “Why?” Feel free to update your “Why.”
Why We Homeschool: