As I begin this third and final post in this series, I find myself back at the God-Mentor-Student triangle once again. Each point plays a specific part:
GOD—The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24). The learning journal (Part 1) is a record of His guidance, presence, and provision throughout each day. Since we are to seek God first, it’s really the starting point of the planning process, not the end result, for what is noted there shapes the direction we will go in the days and weeks that follow.
MENTOR—Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3). My planner page (Part 2) is where I list the most relevant and potentially fruitful activities for my child’s current learning needs. I take my cues from God and what I see unfolding in the learning journal.
And now…the STUDENT.
I added this organizational help for my 8 year old at the start of this school year. My daughter wanted to learn more about topics like cursive, Asian countries, and Christopher Columbus, and I felt prompted by the Spirit to work on fine-tuning her reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic skills. So, I prayed about how to be more intentional in more areas without overstepping. But all things should be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:40).
One of my daughter’s special qualities is that she’s a natural-born manager and list-maker. It’s a trait that has its good points, but as I’ve expressed before, we have a tendency to pay more attention to our lists than to our God. So, I wanted her to learn how to use this aspect of her character in a humble way that would still point to God without inadvertently replacing Him.
Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. (Habakkuk 2:2 NASB).
Again, with the help of Excel and my printer husband, I made a “planner” for my daughter in which she could note her daily goals. Unlike the typical student planners, there are no divisions based on time or subject. Loving the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, body, and service remains at the center of her organizing. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15).
At the top of each page, I’ve listed the non-negotiables—these are the chores and hygiene habits that I want to become routine. Below that, I have spaces for variable activities and lessons, and this is where I write in a few things from my own planner page. I limit myself, however, to the academic stuff that requires instruction (the 3 R’s) and to commitments like soccer practice, piano practice, doctor appointments, or field trips.
Of course, I usually have many more potential activities listed on my own planner page, things of personal interest to my daughter that have come up in recent days and weeks. So, I might suggest that she practice her Spanish words or read a section in a history book to help her reach longer-term goals. Then, too, there is input from the Spirit that may come during morning prayer and the time we spend in quiet listening. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. (Psalm 5:3 NASB). Ultimately, though, my daughter is the one who fills in what she will do with the rest of her time that day.
What I’ve shared here works wonderfully for us, and yet God may have something different in mind for somebody else. For example, I have a friend whose homeschool journey has brought her to a similar place by a different path, but the daily approach we’ve taken is not a good fit for them. Instead, they prefer to consider the heart, soul, mind, body, and service goals a week at a time. My friend uses a weekly page for her kids to fill in (each student has her own).
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
No matter how God leads us to approach the administrative duties of our homeschools, I’ve discovered that it can be another beautiful collaboration between God, the mentor, and the student.