Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Each year, millions of posts across social media showcase children posed for “back to school” pictures. Celebration fills the air as a new year of learning begins.
Upon reflection of many school years, I recall some of the differing ways in which my children and I have begun each new year of learning.
Some years we celebrated with “back to school” parties. As multiple families entered our chosen venue, they would observe theme-based decorations. Before everyone would enjoy themed food and a custom-made cake, we would pray together. We would visit as our children played games. Children would also enjoy a yearly custom of creating a pinata during my art class and breaking it at the party. Sometimes we also incorporated photo shoots with themed backdrops.
Other years, we celebrated our first day of school at home with themed décor, food, and gifts. One year, I outfitted my children’s desks and school room with royalty themed decorations. As my children sat upon their “thrones,” I presented a scroll with royal etiquette rules.
Then there were some years that called for simpler plans. One year we postponed our first day of school until November as I concentrated on healing from a personal back injury. Once healed, we simply started with our planned studies.
In 2019, with surgeries on the horizon, added personal responsibilities, and the commitments necessary to help my older children attain their post-high school goals, my husband and I decided it would be beneficial to ease into our school year. I implemented a plan of staggering the start date for each of our five children. Our two high school students began their personalized study plans first. Each week thereafter, I simply started another child with their school studies. This not only kept things simple, but also gave me the opportunity to focus on each child as they started their new routines. Consequently, I was able to identify and address any time management issues or other difficulties that became apparent.
While my children were studying, I simply snapped a picture. If I look at those pictures through a humanistic lens, comparing them to social media posts or even some of our own school year startup plans in the past, that year’s first day of school seemed ordinary and uninspiring.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” If I view each season of life from a biblical perspective, I will see the beauty in every season. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds me that there are times to cry, heal, and even celebrate. Therefore, I can appreciate the seasons that call for a simplified schedule and minimized efforts as much as the seasons that allow for detailed planning and celebration. Either way, I have spent time with my beloved children and as long as I keep God at the forefront of every day no matter what we have planned, I have played a part in helping my children learn about and know God.
Throughout my homeschool journey, I have customized and adjusted learning plans often to meet the changing focus in our family life. During times in which we are called to service and socialization, I have adapted plans to make room for extracurricular activities. On the other hand, during times of simplicity, I am thankful to be able to implement solutions that will allow focus on health and family. Throughout the high school years, I also make changes to our schedule that will allow for concentrated studies. I am thankful that, as a homeschool parent, I can easily adapt any of my children’s learning plans to accommodate our family's needs and circumstances as well as each of my individual child’s needs, abilities, and goals.
Homeschooling is multifaceted. As such, we all face challenges. You probably already feel challenged by the daily management of homemaking responsibilities in addition to educating your children at home. You could be feeling challenged with meeting the needs of a child who excels in their learning. You may be figuring out ways in which you can cultivate your teenager’s gifts in order to help them achieve their career goals. You might be working part time or full time in addition to homeschooling. Some of us meet daily challenges of helping a child who faces a learning difficulty. Still, there are times when some of us face personal health issues. As each of us look ahead to all the work, study, challenges, and triumphs that will encompass the school year ahead, we can prepare both ourselves and our children, in part, by choosing a single word and Bible verse. If carefully selected, your chosen word and Bible verse can become a compass as you make decisions and even encourage you as you face challenges throughout the year.
What word did I choose this year?
I have experienced much anticipation this year. Not only anticipation of the outcomes from various health tests and surgeries, but also anticipation of how God will prepare my family’s hearts through these experiences. I pray for God to help us apply our newfound perspective as we discover ways in which we can glorify Him as we serve others. I also have growing anticipation as I continue to share my homeschool experiences and advice. All these thoughts have led me to choose the word “anticipation.”
Selecting one word for your upcoming school year can be a challenge. Here are a few tips that can help you select a meaningful word:
1) Sort out matters that are most important to you and your family.
2) Reflect on areas that are personally challenging.
3) Reflect on educational, family, and personal goals.
4) Write down any current needs.
5) Sit quietly, close your eyes, and see if God speaks a word into your heart.
After you choose a word, you may find it beneficial to choose a Bible verse or chapter to correlate with what that word means to you.
I selected Romans 5:1-5 this year.
When I have great anticipation, these verses remind me that I have gained access by faith into God’s grace. I have hope in the glory of God. I know God will give me strength. When a task or circumstance is personally challenging, I can look forward to gaining perseverance, character, and hope. I trust that God will change my perspective, grow my compassion, and equip me through each experience, enabling me to serve others in ways I never could before.
Finally, I think about Matthew 5:16 and pray that God is glorified through all of it.
Some people simply inspire me as they face some of their biggest hardships. Why? Because whether they realize it or not, there is a bright light of unfailing faith and hope radiating out of their very being. I have been very blessed to know many inspiring people. My oldest daughter is one of these special people. She has dealt with many surgeries and difficulties due to a missing chromosome and yet, she perseveres with great strength as she remains steadfast in God's love and light. This light radiates into other's lives, glorifying our Father in heaven.
Have you ever met those that emanate hope and joy with a seemingly miraculous perspective and strength? Absolutely inspiring, isn’t it? As you face any challenges that come your way, keep looking through those biblical lenses. You will find yourself thankful for every season and find joy even during the most unsettled times!
Have a truly blessed school year!