The glossy sharp points of new crayons are wearing down. The crisp new schoolbooks have a few creases and smudges. The flurry of back-to-school preparation and planning has subsided into a (somewhat) normal routine.
As I was working and reworking the schedule for this school year, I came across this quote on a friend’s wall, ” Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.” Frankly, it’s really easy to lose sight of the big picture in the excitement and thrill of a new school year. There’s so much to do. So many amazing skills that would be incredible for my kids (and me) to learn.
This was just the reminder I needed to take a deep breath and think about the big picture. When I do, the excitement remains, but most of the anxiety fades away. Josh and I want to bless our kids with a joyful and rigorous education, but in the end, it won’t matter too terribly much if they don’t know all the state abbreviations, struggle spelling chrysanthemum, and can’t remember which way the Mississippi runs. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll scrap grammar or geography, but it does help me refocus priorities.
Rose and Will making a constellation map, to help identify constellations in the night sky.
Schedule your priorities
Keep the big picture in view
The tyranny of the urgent has a way of distorting the big picture ALL the time. It’s so important to regularly stand back and look at my long-term goals, as a homeschooling mom.
I want our kids to love great stories, be able to write clearly and confidently, think logically, have a good foundation in math and science, have a big picture view of God’s working in history, and be able to speak a second language (in my dad’s home country, kids are pretty fluent in three languages by the time they’re done with elementary school. Surely we can conquer a second language!) Plus, I want them to have plenty of time to explore their own unique interests in music, sports, crafts, or entrepreneurship.
Maybe I’m naive, but spread over twelve years those goals don’t seem that daunting. But stepping back one step further, I realize that even if my kid totally flunks math or can’t write a paper to save her life, this adventure won’t have been a failure if my children love the Lord their God and genuinely love their neighbors. Because that is our ultimate command as Christians and ultimate desire as Christian parents.
Determine your current priorities
With the big picture clearly in view, it’s so much easier to determine this year’s priorities. Today’s priorities.
Of course, priorities can change drastically from season to season. Two of my summer priorities were helping the older kids become strong swimmers and laying a good foundation in piano so that once school started back up I wouldn’t have to spend every moment of practice time at their side. We’re done with swimming for the summer and Rose is practicing more and more independently. Priorities have shifted for the school year.
“Guard their playtime,” many wise older moms have counselled.
I love the feeling of long productive days when I tackle more than I think possible and somehow manage to get it all done. But, the reality is that those days are rare… and I’m usually dragging for a day or two afterward.
Be realistic with what you can accomplish on an average day and leave plenty of wiggle room for likely “interruptions”, like your toddler discovering a set of markers and decorating the room before you notice.
Schedule your priorities
Okay, so maybe schedule isn’t the right word. I really love making schedules. Keeping them for more than 36 hours is the big challenge.
But taking our current priorities and working them into our everyday routine helps make sure that even if all the secondary things get pushed to the side, the priorities are covered.
Little Meg loves gardening as much as I do. It’s an important part of our homeschool.
Our formal school day starts at nine (or as close to that as possible!) From then until lunch, teaching my children is my main focus… which means phone calls, Facebook, and my to-do list have to wait. By blocking distractions during this time, our school day goes much more smoothly because when I’m focused it’s much easier for my kids to be focused too.
Miss Sarah makes learning to sing SO much fun. <3
Schedule your (home school) priorities
Homeschooling is an incredible adventure, but it can be really daunting too. By keeping the big picture in view, honing in on your priorities, being realistic, working those priorities into your daily routine, and blocking distractions, feelings of overwhelmedness* give way to excitement.
*No, overwhelmedness isn’t a word. I think it should be though, don’t you?