For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Planning Series - Week 3: Planned Unschooling . . . Why?

Today is week 3 of my summer series on planning. Visiting with us is Jennifer King from  A "Peace" of Mind.

We have really been struggling lately with my oldest son. He will be 9 this fall and it is such a challenge to keep him focused and interested. He is so emotionally driven; a perfectionist. He needs to be in charge, in control of things. And so this changes how we do all that we do. That said, I know I need to help him to be more involved in his education; to take ownership of his learning experiences. I know that seems like a lot for a little guy. And he is little, but still...I need to do something different. He needs more. I must step out in faith here. :-)

I have spent quite a bit of time reading and studying different ways of making learning more personal and intentional in our home. One of the neatest things I came across was the idea of using a homeschool compass. This sounded like something that could really work. Turns out this is a way to a plan with your children, my son is at just the right age for this too. With a compass the children are able to take control of their learning (what and how), while we help them direct their own learning, serving more as a mentor and guide. Here is a bit of freedom, but also accountability. A good lesson for him to learn.

Brilliant! We consider ourselves to be unschoolers, we love classical, living education, and this is something we just must include in our coming year. It is so intentional, personal and alive. That said we plan and create our compass. Even us unschoolers have a plan :-)

(I know some of you think we may not hehe)

So, I sat down with my son. He had quite the plan for his compass. He wants to learn French, Spanish and Chinese too. Especially writing in Chinese; how neat is that! He wants to learn more about computers and coding so he can make his own websites and eventually a game or two. He plans to study more art books (how to draw various things; cartoons, animation); oh does he love to draw and pain!. I suggested a bit of art history in there for him too; he shrugged those skinny shoulders so we will see. He is also determined to play keyboard and his guitar. His hopes are to have a greater part in the music ministry in our church one day. Oh, and he wants to read more on those explorers from long ago and all the places they traveled to. He is also a Bible Quizzer so we made sure to list that on his compass. The Book of Proverbs will be our focus in the coming year too. (the idea of a year in Proverbs tickles me pink too).

I am reading now, more intensely, A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century. It is said within the pages: “In Leadership Education, we follow the principle 'inspire, not require.' ”

    “If the purpose is to train leaders, it’s important not to force the young person through their learning experiences. Force in learning kills the spirit, dampens the passion and destroys the zest and life of learning. Force trains followers, not leaders.”


    As I see it this is decreasing the stress in our home. Even slowing us down. In a good way of course. If done properly this method shall give us that much more opportunity for learning together. We can focus more too on character; together we can learn skills and explore things we may not have otherwise. I shall have to be more purposeful too; I shall need to be more intentional. For this reason I am making a compass of my own. I need to know that when my children look back and think of their life with me, they remember a mother who embraced opportunity. I want them to think fondly of those times that they wanted to try something new, and we just jumped right in. We took the bull by the horns; excited and eager. To learn and do something new. That's important, for them to not be afraid of something different. Even more for them to learn and grow in trial and error for we cannot master that which we have not struggled with. Trials are, after all, what cause us to grow.

    I like to think that this is a way the Lord would approve of too. I mean, I look back and He spent every moment of His days, with His disciples. They did as He did. It was so simple. Too often I think we complicate the learning process with our children. We remember our experience (at least I do, public school – books and schedules, hours and assessments) We mean well; we do what we think is right. But those do not create a love of learning. Maybe for some. Those are not the tools of the Lord. And who shall we serve? I imagine, if Jesus was here today, (physically here) He would be as intentional as He was then. He would be a teacher who had a hands on, living education way. Just as He did then, He would tell us to do and walk as He does. Its a living, intentional and natural, like breathing. We model, we mentor and in all their time with us – they cannot help but do.

    John Milton says it better than I ever could:
    "The end of learning is know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him." After all we all know ' Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.' Matthew 24:35"
   I am excited about the year to come too. This summer we will host a young lady from France for a few weeks. I cannot wait to meet this dear daughter. And in the fall, a young lady from China will join us for the school year. I pray God will move in and on their lives as well; that while they are with us perhaps He will show them His love and give them a desire for Him, as I pray for all my children; a heart and mind for Him. Its a process for us all. We step back and observe now and then. Take our hands off and watch them go. It is always amazing to see what God does in their lives, every one of them! It is about keeping our eyes on Him, His Kingdom and the eternal.

 In the end isn't that really what matters most? The eternal ? It is so important for our children to know God. To know how to recognize Him and hear Him. As we prepare for another year of homeschooling I want Jesus to be at the center of it all. But I also want to know that we have a plan. It does not have to be static; it is not carved in stone. But it is a compass, a roadmap, of where we can go. Sure, it may change as the days go by. But it encourages our children to think about who they are, and where they are. It encourages them to consider where they would like to be one day; perhaps how to meet the calling God places on their life too. It is a greater step in faith for my family; trusting that the Lord will work in all of our lives for His glory.

Jennifer is a wife, homeschool mother of 3 wonderful, sweet and busy children, and a daughter of Christ. She loves talking about homeschooling and sharing her journey, learning and growing with her husband and all of it for the glory of God. You can follow her adventures @

In this Series:
Week 1: Who Plans Homeschool?
Week 2: Planning an Eclectic Homeschool School Year Type A Style

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