I love to plan.
I mean, I love it. So much so, that I actually begin planning for the next year as soon as we start the previous one. It’s the actual carrying out of my plans that I sometimes struggle with. I think there are two reasons for that. First of all, it’s a character flaw that I fought even before I was a homeschooling mom. But even more, I think it is because, no matter how well I plan—no matter how much time I put into it or how hard I try to meet every one of my children’s educational needs and learning styles—my plans don’t always work out the way I had “planned” (pun intended). And, I’ll be honest, this is disappointing.
I remember one of my early years of homeschooling. I had spent several months picking out the “perfect” curricula and supplies, writing out wonderful plans, copying, stapling, and hole-punching. The night before we began our new year, I stayed up late, carefully laying out each book and activity. My children had been begging for several days to start the year and use those brand new books. We woke up early and began our lessons with bright shining faces . . . and less than two hours later I already heard groans and even an, “I’m bored.” I was crushed. Didn’t they realize I had spent all of that time working hard for them? By noon I really wanted to lock myself in my bedroom and have a good cry.
I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. I used to imagine the “perfect” homeschool day with my children gathered around me as I serenely read to them from one of my favorite books. We would gleefully traipse through the woods collecting leaf specimens. And my children would willingly and obediently complete Spencerian handwriting worksheets and read out of The McGuffey Original Readers. In spite of all my planning, it never did turn out that way.
So, what have I learned about planning?
1. My plan always goes much better if I ask God what his plan is first. (Tweet this!) This is something I need to constantly remind myself. He helps me see through things to find the best way of doing something. When I listen to him first, our school days always go better.
2. My plan is my plan. I cannot copy someone else’s plan, no matter how wonderfully it works for them. While I can certainly glean wisdom from those with more experience, they do not have my children, nor do they have my schedule.
3. My plan needs to take into account my children’s personalities and learning styles. I have one child that does not sit still and another that learned to read standing on her head. I simply cannot plan marathon reading lessons or expect them to be quiet for hours. It frustrates us all.
4. My plan should not be written in stone. It is merely a guide. If it isn’t working, I change it. Now, sometimes I do train my children to do something they don’t really like, or punish them for rudeness—but if what we are doing really isn’t working, I put it on the shelf, sell it, or give it away. It is not worth it!
5. My plan needs to be written in pencil. Rarely do we complete a whole week exactly as I planned it.
Following this wisdom, my planning more often meets the mark. And when it doesn’t, I’ve learned to laugh, throw up my hands, and move on.
Originally published at hedua.com.