Love the Journey
People say, “Tapestry isn’t a complete program.” Is that right?
October 20, 2014 – 1:44 pm | No Comment

This is one of those things that “people say” which illustrates very well the telephone game type of distortion that I described in the Introduction to this series. Whether or not a program is complete …

Read the full story »
Just Tapestry

For newbies and veterans alike!

Cross-Eyed Parenting

Keeping the cross of Christ in view as you parent

Sharing the Road

Stories, exhortation, and accountability for the homeschooling journey

Tips for Teaching

Help for everyday challenges of teaching at home

Why Homeschool?

Explore a wide variety of motivations and methods

Home » All Posts, Helps for New Homeschoolers

Do You Have a Guiding Star?

Submitted by on February 12, 2013 – 7:04 pm2 Comments

If you are new to homeschooling, you have already found that you have to contend with a myriad of choices and voices. As with any new endeavor, you must learn a new vocabulary, involving such words as “modalities” and “fine motor skills” and “unit study approach.” It’s a steep learning curve about a really important topic–your child’s education–and it can be bewildering and stressful!

Many different vendors of curricula, leading authors, and well-meaning friends (or relations) may tell you that their program is “the best” or “the only” or “the essential” ingredient to successful teaching and/or parenting. These mentors all sincerely believe what they say, or they wouldn’t be teaching others to do as they do!

But the truth is that there are many different, valid methods that will help you to achieve the general goal of successful homeschooling. So, if you are a newbie, how can you know what to choose?  If you have a newbie in your network, how might you help them to know where to start and what to choose?

It helps to start with the end in mind. The years of homeschooling are well envisioned as a journey, with different phases, many adventures, and an ultimate destination. This journey requires dedication, perseverance, and faith.

Because many of us did not grow up homeschooling or seeing it done, we are like the early explorers or merchants who launched out by sea and land to seek a vaguely conceived prize with only the most rudimentary navigational aids. For centuries, adventurers steered by the stars.

Have you found your “guiding star” for the homeschool journey?

As I demonstrated in my “Why DO you homeschool?” post, parents start homeschooling for a wide variety of reasons. Before I go on, remember that all of these reasons for beginning the journey are valid, sensible, and motivational. God has all kinds of ways (some full of humor) of drawing us to paths that He’s marked out for us.

  • Some start the journey as a reaction to life circumstances (from “my child’s Kindergarten teacher was intolerable” to “we are a military family and move a lot”).
  • Some moms start homeschooling because they support someone else’s vision (like “my husband grew up homeschooling and really wants me to, so I am going to give it a try”).
  • Some parents are eager to start, but only see homeschooling as a “get ahead” measure: they plan to homeschool only until their child is reading well, and then put them into a school. For them, it’s a “head start” measure.
  • And then there are the ideologues: parents who homeschool for principled reasons, most typically related to education, religion, and/or family building.

These last parents have typically found what I’m calling their “guiding star” for the journey.

My biggest concern for many young couples who are attracted to homeschooling for the more practical (vs. principled) reasons, is that they have not yet crystallized their vision: they may lack a clear sense of why they are homeschooling.  Sometimes, they have no clear vision of what success would even look like. When they are confronted with early schooling choices, they may have no star to steer by.

You may be in this position now, or you may know young couples who are at this awesome, overwhelming starting point. Given the long-distance nature of the journey and rigors along the way, it’s hard to sustain momentum. You may wonder if it’s even going to be worth it–whatever “it” is!

The learning curve is straight up, and all choices and voices seem equally valid.

Moms in their first years of the journey need motivation, need context for making decisions, need trustworthy guides, and need resources by which they can choose the first guiding star that they can steer by. To borrow from a career book title by David Campbell, If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else.

I believe that in most areas of life, couples need to take time to ponder their goals, not just the means that they will adopt to get to their goals. My husband and I have spent hours and hours and hours over the years (mostly on long car trips) talking around and through what we want to achieve in our parenting.  We have found we do best when we start with the principles, and then figure out our practices.  Our principles (our values) serve as our guiding star, no matter where the practical affairs of the journey take us.

So, for homeschooling, let me ask you: “What is your guiding star?” Where are you headed? How long do you think it will take to get there? What would success look like? When will you have arrived?

Before those questions overwhelm you, take a deep breath.  Remember, your stars will change with the seasons! Like the constellations of the night sky, different seasons will bring different goals.

Those goals that you crystallize for your grammar-school years may not serve you well in the teen years. As God grows you and your capacity to love and serve, you may find that your guiding stars are quite different at the start, in three years, and in ten years.

That’s OK! Homeschooling is a journey, and the great delight of picking a star to head for is that now you can make choices and gain some headway, instead of being anxious, or knowing that you’re wandering around in circles! You don’t have to know each bend and turn  in the road ahead. God’s guidance is usually more like headlights on a car, illuminating only the path immediately ahead of us, than a MapQuest print out that tells lays out the whole journey at a glance. That’s where faith and trust get built. But we do need to start. And, to start, we need to pick a direction that we think is good to head. Only then can we begin to say “yes” to some choices and “no” to others!

In my next post in this series, Starting with the End in Mind, I offer you a starting point as you seek to pick your direction and go for it. I think you’ll pretty quickly see that many new homeschoolers start at the “how” end of things, when really the question to be asked first is more “why?”

 

2 Comments »

  • Tina Jobe says:

    My husband and I have been participating in The Art of Marriage – a 6-week video/discussion study by Family Life Today. It is excellent. Tonight the lesson focused on vision. If we want a good marriage, we must work at it. There will be hard times. Anyone would quit if it weren’t for commitment. We mess up, but there is Grace!! We need to realize that the choices we make in our marriages affect our children. As we serve Him and seek to bring him glory through our relationship with our spouse, we may influence folks that are not even born yet! Folks that develop vision and are Biblically committed build strong marriages.

    So many parallels with homeschooling.

    Homeschooling is a journey and yes, God calls folks to the journey in many different ways. It is a huge commitment of time and requires vision. We will mess up. Our lesson plan for the day may get hi-jacked. However, if we commit our schedules, curriculum, and mostly our relationships to the Lord, we can rest and know we are accomplishing exactly what is needed. It’s a journey of placing one foot in front of the other and looking upward.

    I love the “guiding star” analogy.

  • [...] my last post (Do You Have a Guiding Star? ) I wrote about the confusion that most newcomers feel when first confronted with the “night [...]

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>