The Importance of Reflection, Prayer, and Rest in Homeschool Planning

Wednesday, June 8, 2016






Alright, so, I don't know about you - but I'm an A-type, go-getter kinda girl.  So, as a homeschool Mom, it is so tempting to just jump from one 'school year' to the next.

You know, it's June - shouldn't I be gearing up to start again in a few weeks with next year's plans?  (laughs)

I have done this so many times - I would go all year, never stop, and be continually implementing new plans as I went along.  Rarely did we take more than 2 weeks of a 'break' from homeschooling.  It is exhausting, even if you implement a more relaxed, gentle approach.

As the years have passed though, I've learned more about the importance of pausing.  There is so much waiting for us in a time of pausing between 'years'.  (Even if this is only a for the month of July, like us!)


It is so important to take time to acknowledge the year's accomplishments, pray for direction, and rest in body and spirit as you plan for the coming months and year ahead.




Reflection...


Just like all homeschoolers, I often struggle with the feeling we just aren't ever doing enough.  

In fact, I can even find myself wondering what we actually DID accomplish in the school year.   You know, those haunting (lying) feelings that whisper: Man, did we do ANYTHING this year?  What did we actually accomplish?!   

Let me tell ya- many, many months can easily cloud together and we lose sight of all the wonderful things we did do!  The memories we made together, all the learning that took place, all the wonderful and engaging books we read, the conversations we had,  and all the growth and discipleship that happened under our roof.

Honestly, before you barrel into planning for next year, take time to think about and reflect upon the year you are still wrapping up.  Whether you 'school' all year long or don't prescribe to the traditional Autumn to Spring academic year - that's ok.  Any time is a good time to still reflect on what you have and are still accomplishing in the home.

Looking back on all you've achieved, helps you gain motivation to keep moving forward!

For me, this includes looking through our children's Notebooks, and reading through my past year's homeschool planner.  In these I can easily view so much of the wonderful learning that took place academically.  I also just spend time thinking through the months and some of the special learning we did together.

Of course, accomplishments and growth don't only come in the form of academics!  There is so much more to consider.  In fact, for us, there are more important things to consider!  Was there spiritual growth in our family - ourselves, our children...?  What their development in character and habits of my children (or myself!)?  Did we learn new things together that we ended up really enjoying?  What kind of special memories or traditions did we establish?  What kind of friends did we make or how did we invest further in family and friends?  How did we see God moving in our lives?  How did God use our family to impact the world around us?  How were we blessed this year and how did we bless?  What challenges did we face and overcome together?

These are all so important to consider and remember, and even document!  (Of course there is an endless list of possibilities for growth...)

If your children are very young and are not yet doing formal 'homeschooling', you can still reflect upon all the ways they have grown this year too!  What milestones did they hit?  Did they learn to sit up?  Crawl?  Walk?  All three?  Did they start talking or show an interest in reading books together?  Did you read through a children's Bible Storybook together?  Learn a simple prayer or hymn?  What about siblings forming bonds?  Learning how to stack bricks or pick flowers...?  There are so many ways a child can change and grow.

Without an intentional pause, a breath, a time of reflection - it is so easy to lose sight of all the wonderful growth that took place.  It is also much easier to burn out.


Give yourself time to actually acknowledge that you and your children ARE learning and growing and things are going to be just fine. It's so important to ponder where you've been so you can see clearer where you need to go.  To thank the Lord for all the work He is doing and ask Him to help you move forward into the coming year.


Prayer...

So this leads me to the next part.  Prayer.  

I write about this from a state of brokenness.  Because friends, PRAYER still needs to be such a bigger part of our homeschool, my everyday, my life!  I know this because the Holy Spirit has been whispering this truth to me over and over again.  Oh, what a world of distraction we live in!!!

We are winding up our year in the next couple of weeks.  July will be a month of rest- we will be stopping most 'academics' (so to speak).  We will continue with a modified Morning Time, which will most-likely include: Bible, Scripture Memory, Prayer, Poetry, and History Read-alouds.  We also always spend time in some kind of really relaxed Nature Study.  This is the kind of stuff the kids do not consider work, however.  *does dance*

What a break does is it gives Mama some much needed time for reflection and prayer for the coming 'school year'.   And through this prayer and reflection will come more of a plan.

Abba Father knows what these little ones and our family will face this year and the next and the next.  He created each of our kids so unique in all their gifts and quirks.  He knows them better than I ever will.  I desperately need to seek His guidance to achieve success in leading them. 



Yes,  He is my King and my Shepherd.  The Shepherd of my heart and the Shepherd of our little home school.  The One I desperately NEED to show me how and when and why and where and what.

And yet, there are times I completely neglect to ask for His help.  When I just do things on my own and make my own decisions in my own way.  

Even when there have been so many times when God has led me and our little imperfect homeschool.  Ways He has directly answered prayer about which programs to use, which topics to cover, what books to read, what to really focus on.  

There have been countless times I've planned one thing only to find the Holy Spirit leading me in another direction.  This happens both in a daily setting and during the planning process.

And I still have a long way to go in being intentional about prayer for our homeschool and also attentive to the Spirit's guiding.  I long so much to be completely in tune with Christ's whispers - to walk in step with the Spirit every moment... but oh, I'm far from that reality friends!!!

Despite all our imperfections and lack of listening, however, He stands closely by our side, doesn't He?  Yes... he does.  He's a good, good Father.  (Go ahead, click on the link and listen to a tune of truth...)

Do not (for one second!) underestimate the love of the Father, friends.  He is an intimate Saviour.  He cares about your life and my life and He is abundantly rich in grace and mercy.  

Our Lord Jesus cares about the details.  Even the choices that seem small in the grand scheme of life.   ("Which language arts program do we use for this child, Lord?")  


Don't hesitate to bring these decisions to the Lord in prayer.  He is a loving and caring and present Shepherd.  Oh, where I would be without His loving hand upon this broken, messy Mama...!!!???



These are some of the prayers I'm humbly whispering right now...


Lord, show me how we can read and absorb more and more of YOUR WORD in our every day learning...

Oh, Father, what books should we read this year?  Which ones will honor you and inspire my children?

Lord, show us the materials in our home that do not honor you.  Lead us to study in a way that brings glory to your name.  Don't let me be a sheep - just following what other people do... help me to test everything and lead me to know what you would have us read and learn.

Show us, Lord, what Fruits of the Spirit we need to focus on... what character and habit training will be needed this coming year... ?

Help me find reading material that will help my two youngest fall in love with reading for themselves...

Lord, how can I better cultivate peace in our home?  Help me to be a peacemaker among my children and give them kindness and love toward one another.

Father, fill me with passion for what is pure and beautiful and good.  Show me these things.  Help me share these also with our children in a way that fills them with the same passion.



I could go on and on and on...

but He is gracious to hear us when we call.   So don't hesitate to just start talking... He is waiting and He is the Pearl beyond Price... the most Perfect and Wonderful Shepherd.  How is it that the Lord of the Universe hears me?  ME!?  

When I ask Him about our little homeschool?  

He hears.  

He cares. 

He answers. 

I'm speechless...

and I'm a fool not to bring all things to Him so He will ultimately give me rest in all things and in all decisions.

Rest...


So, this idea of rest is something I really want to reflect on and well, 'rest' in this year.

Yes, I desperately want to dwell in peace.

Pretty soon my full review of Teaching From Rest will go up at Hip Homeschool Moms.  I absolutely love this book.  It is truly one of the best 'homeschool' books I've ever read and if I could, I would give a copy to every single new homeschooler I meet.  Sarah Mackenzie is a wonderful mentor and such an encouraging comrade for Moms on this journey of homeschooling.



Here's a quote from the book:


"Unshakable peace does not come from getting through a certain amount of material over a specified amount of time, but it also doesn't come from throwing in the towel and giving in when things get hard.  Peace comes from recognizing that our real task is to wake up each day and get our marching orders from God.  It comes from diligence to the work He hands us, but diligence infused with faith, with resting in God's promises to guide and bless us... Rest is trusting that God's got this, even if I'm a mess, even if I'm not enough, even if I mess up every day.  Because I do."



How much do I love that?

Sarah's words invoke a deep exhale from the depths of my very soul.

When we seek the Lord's guidance for our homeschool and follow His direction, we can grab hold of this crazy peace and settle right down in it.  I mean, instead of stressing and striving and constantly feeling like we aren't doing enough or the right thing or that other thing - no.  We can just STOP the chaos and be still and know that the Lord of the Universe is guiding us and showing us what is best for our family and our children...

That no one's standards but His matter.

That our life doesn't need to look like any one else's.  

That our life shouldn't look like the worldly lives surrounding us.

That 'school' is secondary to Spirit.


That He is in control and if we seek His Kingdom first,  ALL the other things will be taken care of - seriously... we don't need to stress.  Stress is an absence of peace, and we serve the Prince of Peace - so we are daughters and warriors of Peace, Mamas!

We don't need to stress because our trust is in the Lord and we just know that He's got all things under His control and in His mighty care.

That is REST, friends.

Resting in His peace, curled up in the palm of His hand.  And showing our children that He is a close, kindred Lord - an ever-present help in times of trouble and in the everyday ordinary.

And yes, even in our little homeschools.










I pray this post has whispered encouragement and the truth of God's love and care for you today, wherever it finds you.  


*hugs*





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2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful, heartfelt encouragement! Wrapping up our first year of homeschooling And this is just what I need. Blessings!

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    1. Wonderful... so glad it was encouraging to you! :)

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