Count the Cost
A Biblical principle that applies to any undertaking of great significance is counting the cost. One way to do this in your homeschool journey is by establishing goals for your children’s education and developing a plan to achieve those goals. At the outset, pray about what you want to accomplish academically and spiritually throughout their schooling, and then write down your ideas. A Christian parent’s main priority is to rear their children according to Deuteronomy 6:5-7. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” The first priority for you as a parent is teaching your children to love the Lord with all their hearts. Academics come after that. My personal goals for my children include having godly character, being an effective communicator both in speech and writing, having proficiency in math, and being well-read. Armed with goals, you can develop a plan that will keep you on track for the duration of your homeschooling years.
From the beginning, I felt called to homeschool my children through high school. This may vary for different families, but having this settled in my heart ahead of time has helped me to focus and to think long-term. There is no wavering in my heart saying, "Can I do it?" If God calls you to do it, He will equip you. If there is a subject down the road that appears difficult to teach, then you can find a video, computer course, or a tutor who can teach it. Do not allow fear to limit your planning. One of my long-term goals is that my children attend a Christian college, so this has influenced my choices of curriculum for their high school years. My kids have already visited and become familiar with some good Bible colleges and are excited about attending one of those schools. My eldest is especially self-motivated because she plans to attend a specific college with her best friend. A motivated child is very easy to homeschool. Knowing what I expect of them has given my children a framework within which to establish their own goals and a target for which to strive. You may experience a greater sense of purpose if you determine in your heart to homeschool through high school. God may still open other doors of educational opportunities, but you will find that you will work harder if you teach your children with a long-range plan.
Goals for your children should not be set in stone. Over the years I have observed the strengths and interests of my children take form, and I have adjusted my goals for them accordingly. A methodical, logical child will focus on different subjects in high school than his artistic sister. Leave room for flexibility and God’s leading in your children’s lives. As they get older, allow them to have more input into the classes that they want to take as well. Instead of being driven by your goals, allow them to be guidelines that help map out an educational path. For example, I began teaching my children Latin as part of our classical curriculum. When we moved to Indonesia, however, it seemed to make much more sense to switch to studying bahasa Indonesia since that was the language that they needed to know in order to communicate. I did not get caught up in my previous goal, but rather changed according to what would best serve my family. Use goals as tools to help guide and not limit your choices.
In addition to long term goals, you may also make annual goals based on your children’s strengths and weaknesses. They can be both in the areas of character and academics. For example, this year one of my goals for my seventh grader was for her to learn to speak and communicate in Indonesian. I wanted my fourth grader to learn the fundamentals of English grammar. As for my second grader, he needed to get his reading up to grade level. I am pleased with our progress on all of those points. So, even though we did not finish our history curriculum for the year, I still feel as though we had a successful school year. The goals I had set were part of a learning process and not a curriculum checklist. Annual goals can help you to keep the big picture in mind.
In closing, I want to share Luke 14:28. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” As you set goals in homeschooling, you are essentially counting the cost. What will the end result look like and how do you plan to achieve it? Both long-term and annual goals can give you the confidence and direction that you need to have a successful homeschool.
Written by Kristine Lien,
missionary wife and homeschooling mom serving the Lord in Indonesia.