You made the decision to homeschool. You went to convention, bought materials, researched…what is next?
My son-in-law was a soldier in the U.S. Army for over nine years. Watching him train for deployment taught me a lot about how important it is to understand your mission and be prepared. Our military forces would never send out men who have not been highly trained for their assignments. The ultimate success of the soldier’s mission depends upon principles which are very similar to those needed for a beginning home educator. We, too, have been given a mission, and the means to prepare for success are readily available to us. What is most important about training for a mission?
1. Get to know and learn to trust your squad members.
These soldiers would depend upon each other for life and safety; they had to know each other well enough to trust each other completely. As you begin homeschooling, first take time to get to know your children and allow them to know you. Spend time doing fun things together as a family. Building relationships should be the highest priority—parent/child relationships as well as sibling relationships. Taking time to build trust now will make yours a stronger, closer family when challenges threaten to disarm your homeschool.
2. Learn your mission and understand it.
Soldiers have to know exactly what is expected of them, and they must have a thorough understanding of how to accomplish their mission. Your mission as a home educator is the training and discipleship of the next generation. Educate yourself about homeschooling, about discipleship. Join a support group and look within the group for a homeschool veteran who understands the calling of home education. Ask that person to mentor you as you endeavor to learn your mission.
3. Know your enemy and train to fight effectively.
What are the enemies of home education? Learn from seasoned homeschoolers how to prepare to fight discouragement and burnout. Learn how to respond to well-meaning friends and family who do not understand why you would want to have your children at home all day. Learn to watch for signs of unrealistic expectations or developmental immaturity that look like behavior problems. Recognize the value of routines and team work.
4. Acquire a complete knowledge of your weapon, keeping it ready for use at any time.
Soldiers must be able to clean, reassemble, and use their weapons with confidence and skill. You, too, have equipment to master and keep ready. Scripture refers to the Word of God as your sword, the only offensive weapon included in the armor of God. Meditate upon God’s Word so that you can use it to destroy the lies you
will be tempted to believe— lies of insufficiency and inadequacy, lies encouraging you to compare your homeschool with another’s home education. There is other equipment you want to know well, the educational tools you have selected to aid or guide you in teaching your children. Whether you have chosen to follow a curriculum or to design your own, know it well. Plan and prepare before you actually start lessons with your children.
5. Keep your boots clean.
Soldiers learn to meticulously clean their boots, always ready for the order to march or move out. Sounds simplistic, but is not that a picture of you being willing and able to change plans at a moment’s notice? Life often interrupts homeschooling with illness, sleeplessness, fatigue, and other challenges. There will be times when Mom needs to change her plans, to allow more time to grasp a difficult concept, to explain something from a different perspective, or to make the most out of a hard day with an unplanned activity or a special trip to the library or the zoo.
3. Keep your head clear when things are falling apart around you.
The last principle required of soldiers cannot be ultimately learned until they are on the field. As a homeschooling parent, learn to walk in peace, the peace which comes from living your life in the presence of God. You are not required to accomplish this mission on your own. What God has called you to do, He will equip you to complete. It is His peace that will keep your head clear as you guide, instruct, and lead your squad.
It may seem like a stretch to think of homeschooling in light of military training. The principles for success, though, are the same. As parents, let us take the time needed to prepare and to practice those principles until they become a part of our daily thinking. Our mission is clear; our assignment has been given. Take time for the training that will equip and strengthen you for the task. The success of our mission is crucial for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation.