Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan, Anticipate Resistance
A man plans his ways, but the Lord determines his steps. –Proverbs 16:9
Do you make homeschool plans? I’m a big planner. My wife shares my affinity for planning. We like making a list of tasks to complete, designing a schedule for when we will tackle each item, and then putting our noses to the grindstone and working our plan. We have a stretch goal for the year, a priority target for each quarter, big rocks for the month, a main focus for each week, and good habits for every day. Conventional wisdom holds that the more time you put toward developing your plan, the better your final product will be in the end, and the smoother the sailing will be to accomplish the work. This is especially true with big projects.
I can’t think of too many projects much bigger or more important than homeschooling. The homeschooling adventure often requires long-term planning for the years ahead, weekly planning for the short-term future, and daily planning for what to do right now. For example, I highly recommend you put together a four-year plan prior to your student’s high school years. This will define the target for both of you and will help you focus on the coursework that is valuable to your overall goals.
Your Old Nemesis, Resistance
But how many homeschool plans work out exactly as expected? Probably none. And there’s a reason why this happens. You plan your work, and then you start working your plan. But you also need to factor in a pesky critter called Resistance.
You know the story. Mom spends Sunday night planning for the homeschool week. She fills in the assignment sheets, organizes the schoolroom, tidies up her desk, and goes to bed feeling pretty good about the week ahead. Then Monday morning comes early. The kids don’t jump out of bed right away, though they do respond to some loving encouragement. Everyone sits together for breakfast, and Mom is feeling pretty good so far. After a healthy meal, she reminds the oldest child to clean the kitchen while she gets started with the youngest. Then Resistance shows up.
The oldest doesn’t want to clean up. “I always have to do it,” she whines. The time it takes to get that child back on track allows the younger sibling to wander off somewhere. Mom goes off to find the lost lamb and corrals him back to the table to recite his numbers and letters. When the older child shows up after kitchen duty, Mom is ready to take everyone to the couch for reading time. As Mom begins the story, a small tiff breaks out over the seating arrangements. Mom tries to gently keep everyone on track, but she is already feeling stressed because her well-thought-out day seems to be slowly unraveling.
Mom is now behind schedule but pushes forward as best she can. After a hurried lunch, she puts the kids down for a nap. Mom knows the kids need some rest before attempting the schoolwork that she would like them to complete that afternoon. But nap time goes longer than planned, mainly because the kids fought the urge to close their eyes and fall asleep.
As the afternoon session begins, both children seem to have forgotten everything they ever learned and simply can’t concentrate on the work. The kids are resisting at every turn. Mom tempts them with visions of playing outdoors after they finish, but no one is cooperating. Eventually, she gives up and sends the kids outside to run around and expend some energy.
Finally, evening rolls around, with several unfinished assignments to show for Mom’s efforts. But she knows better than to try and make something happen at this point. So Mom and Dad play with the kids after dinner, give them baths and brush their teeth, read a story, say bedtime prayers, and tuck them under the covers. But do the kids stay put? Of course not. Eventually, Mom falls into bed exhausted.
What Adjustments to Your Homeschool Plans Need to Be Made?
So what can Mom do better tomorrow? She tried following her plan, but she hadn’t counted on all the resistance she would encounter.
My suggestion? Keep planning your work, keep working your plan, and know that you will meet up with your old nemesis, Resistance. Hang tough, but don’t fight him too hard because he will show up again next week. Just know that you are accomplishing some big and important parts of your plan, such as relationship building, responsibility training, character development, and trusting God in all things. For this, you can be thankful.
You are now halfway through the school year. And maybe you are thinking back to the fall. You planned your work. You tried to work your plan. But you experienced Resistance. Now it’s halftime, and you are a little hesitant about how to approach the weeks and months ahead. What improvements should you make? What adjustments are needed to your game plan? You have the right attitude. Now you are asking for some practical advice, tips, hacks — anything!
Fall in Love With the Process
We all tend to look at the immediate results. You know — did your kids complete all their assignments this week? Did you get to music lessons and soccer practice on time? Did everyone obey the first time and cooperate today? Let me say this. Fall in love with the process, not the results.
If you are an Alabama football fan, then you are well aware of their beloved and highly successful head football coach Nick Saban. In his recent retirement announcement, he preached “the process” in coaching his players in which he told them not to focus on winning but to instead focus on everything that they were doing at the moment and to do the task the best that they could, which included everything from excelling in the classroom and lifting weights to focusing on competing on a high-level during each play on the gridiron.
I would like to suggest the same thing to all homeschooling parents. Educate your children at home with all your heart, and give it your absolute best every single day. In other words, do everything (including homeschooling your children) in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Don’t focus solely on the results, and certainly don’t worry that you might be messing up your children. Plan your work, work your homeschool plans, and expect resistance. But then, be sure to persevere and never ever give up. Keep calling out to God for guidance and wisdom. Have your students consider this question: “What is God calling me to do? What good works has He prepared in advance for me to do in order to bring glory to His name?”
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Then after you have walked by faith, trusted God, read good books to your children, eaten many meals together, enjoyed long family conversations, played games, hiked trails together, explored God’s creation, shared Deuteronomy 6 moments with each child, and instilled a love of learning, you can leave the results to God.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. –Deuteronomy 6:7
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Now it’s time to get back to real life. So…what kind of resistance did you meet this week?