You are in the starting blocks and ready to take off with your homeschool journey! How exciting. But before you take off, it’s important that you take this critical first step. Read on as I share the importance of a homeschool mission statement.
Once you decide to homeschool, you probably want to dive into creating the ultimate homeschool room, finding top-notch curriculum, and planning your perfect first day. (Sorry, it is really hard not to laugh there.) Before you do anything, however, there is a critical first step that many homeschoolers fail to do. Some may even say that it is downright silly. But hear me out on this one. It is important and I will show you why.
Before anything else, you should take some time to write a homeschool mission statement. This single step may seem like no big deal, but it could very well be the difference between making smart decisions and sinking your entire homeschool ship. It could be the difference between making it to graduating your homeschooler and quitting homeschool by Christmas. Taking time to think through why you are homeschooling in the first place and creating a mission statement will provide you with that all important reminder that what you are doing is important and you should see it through.
Reasons Why People Decide to Homeschool
There are many reasons why families choose to homeschool. Many families homeschool because of religious beliefs. Others homeschool because they do not agree with the use of Common Core curriculum, objections over certain subject matter in schools, or concerns about safety. Some homeschooling families have children with medical conditions. Still others have had difficult situations in school such as their child being bullied, having anxiety, or getting behind. Some homeschoolers, like us, like the way that each child can benefit from an individualized and interest-based education.
The National Home Education Research Institute states that according to data from spring 2016, there are an estimated 2.3 million homeschool students in the United States with an estimated growth anywhere between 2% to 8% per year. The exact number of homeschoolers cannot be known for sure since some states do not require homeschoolers to register with the state and many families are very leery to fill out any “voluntary” government surveys for privacy concerns.
While it is difficult to know the exact number of homeschoolers today, there is high speculation that homeschooling is on the rise given the amount of attention that has come about in recent years with the increase in proposed legislation in certain states, media stories that focus on homeschoolers (good and bad), the rise of homeschooling products, and the fact that homeschooling events in our area fill up very fast. (Okay, so the last one is more personal, but seriously! I have been trying for months to get the girls in on a group science class and we keep missing it!)
Regardless of how many homeschoolers there are, there are a myriad of reasons why families choose to homeschool. Knowing why you have chosen to homeschool is an important first step in the process of creating a homeschool mission statement. Give yourself time to really mull this over and write down the most important aspects of why you made this decision. Prioritize the reasons and think about how those reasons compare to other educational choices such as public school or private school. If your reasons singularly or collectively cannot be accomplished other than by homeschool, then you are on the right track.
This is an important distinction because you need your mission statement to help you provide a concrete argument for why homeschooling is the best option for your family. This isn’t an argument for anyone else. You do not need to defend your choice to homeschool your kids. This argument is solely for you and your family’s sake. Put the proverbial stake in the ground and make your declaration. It will serve you well as you start your homeschool journey.
What is a Homeschool Mission Statement
When a business first gets started, it is advised to create a business plan. This outlines the direction of the company and what its goals will be. A business plan lists out a variety of objectives and provides details how about how those objectives will be accomplished. These objectives can be adjusted and can certainly change over time as the business matures and grows. These objectives are usually measurable, too, meaning that there will be evidence they have been achieved based on the results.
A mission statement is not the same thing as a business plan. While the business plan has dynamic objectives, a mission statement is static and is the single statement that all objectives in the business plan are measured against. The mission statement is a short description that defines the long term goals of the organization. All objectives must be in line with the mission statement. In the beginning, you should focus solely on your mission statement. Planning any objectives will come later after you have picked up some experience.
Why am I talking about business plans and mission statements? How on earth could that possibly help you teach your 1st grader how to read? Stick with me, mama. There is a point to understanding this. Because a well-thought out mission statement can be the difference between a company thriving and sinking in its first year. If they do not know why they are in business in the first place, how they can stay afloat when challenges occur?
A homeschool mission statement is not going to contain productivity figures, but it is going to provide a summary of why you are homeschooling in the first place. It can be a simple statement to up to three to four sentences that provides a top-level look at the “big picture” of your homeschool goals. It doesn’t get into the weeds of individual or even family goals, but it will give insight into whether individual and family goals fit into the homeschool you envisioned. Remember, individual or family goals can be planned later.
Why a Homeschool Mission Statement is Important
There are probably a lot of people homeschooling today that have never created a homeschool mission statement. After all, there is so much to do to get ready for the first day of homeschool. How can there possibly be time to even go there? There is curriculum to scrutinize over until 2 in the morning for crying out loud! This isn’t a business. Kids are not widgets. Why would you need to waste your time?
The reason you should take time to write your homeschool mission statement is so that you don’t waste time. It is critical because when you are weighing options for your homeschool year, you will have your statement to rely on in helping you to make informed decisions. There are a lot of things to consider throughout the year and anything that derails you from your original intent to homeschool, is counterproductive and can be very dangerous. Anything that goes against your mission statement, is probably the very thing that you didn’t want.
Don’t measure what you do in homeschool against other families and what they are doing. Don’t let the local school district tell you that you must use certain resources. (You don’t. Check your state homeschool law.) Don’t let any blog tell you what is important to you and your family. We all have our own reasons why we are right here doing this crazy thing and you must use your “why’s” to say yes or no to all the options that are available to homeschoolers today.
There are a lot of options available to homeschoolers today. The amount of companies offering curriculum for various teaching styles and learning styles is staggering. Homeschool co-ops, hybrid schools, and other homeschool support groups are popping up everywhere. Businesses are enticing homeschoolers with special daytime enrichment classes. Families are going to tell you all about how important it is to be involved in this civic group, debate team, or traveling sports team. You are going to have to vet all these decisions against your purpose for homeschooling.
When a Homeschool Mission Statement is Important
Therein lies why that mission statement is pretty darn important. If you have no clue why homeschooling is important to you, how will you weed through all the stuff that comes along with being your kids’ sole teacher? There must be some sort of weight to measure what is good, what is fluff, and what is downright insanity. The truth is that you cannot do everything, and everything should not be important to you. You have enough stuff to do, so only do the things that truly matter.
When you are stressing over which homeschool books to use for your child, you can refer to your mission statement. What is your goal for your homeschool? Do you want your homeschool to focus on being delight-directed or interest-based? If so, look for products or create your own that allows your child to use her special talents in order to learn the subject. For example, if your child loves art, then find materials that allow her to draw her way through history.
If you are thinking that maybe you should join a co-op right away because you are afraid that you will not be enough for your kiddos, please stop and think about it. If your mission statement or “why” was to create a tighter family bond and restore relationships, then joining a co-op may go against this intention. Remember, it doesn’t have to necessarily, but if you are going against your original intentions outlined in your mission statement out of fear, then you probably need to stop and think through this.
Your mission statement is your personal reminder to the whole reason you chose to homeschool in the first place. Let it serve as your emotional pep talk when you get overwhelmed or fearful that you may not be able to do something that you set out to do. I promise you that if you refer to it often, it will become a powerful encouragement because the person who wrote it is awesome and knew her stuff. (Hey, that person is you. Pretty cool, right?)
How to Write Your Homeschool Mission Statement
Hopefully by now I have convinced you to take some time to write a homeschool mission statement. If so, hurray, you will not be sorry! If not…for real? Did you not just read my post? Perhaps you are stuck on how to write a homeschool mission statement. Don’t worry, I have you covered for that, too. Below is a quick, step-by-step guide so that you can get started to make informed decisions so your homeschool year is a good one.
First, write down all the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place. These are the big reasons why you decided to go down this path. Measure it against the other educational options available to see if it is unique to homeschool. Once you have decided on them, write them down and prioritize.
Second, clarify these reasons into words that help you to envision how you are going to show them in action. Use positive, affirming words that speak strength into your home and stay away from words that show fear or negativity. For example, you wouldn’t want to include that your mission is to homeschool so the children can avoid behaviors that are counter to your values. Instead you would write a mission statement that you want to instill in your children the values your family believes that are important and can briefly list those values.
Third, take the clarified, positive reasons and put them together into a brief statement. It is recommended that a mission statement is no bigger than three to four sentences long, but this is up to you. It’s your mission statement, so do what is best for you. You need to be able to recall this easily and I highly recommend memorizing it. It is important for it to be top of mind and near to your heart so that you can refer to it when it is decision-time or if you are ever in homeschool crisis mode.
Finally, write it down and make it official. If your family is involved in creating it, print it out and display it prominently so everyone can see it. If you create it by yourself, share it with your spouse and children if they are old enough to understand. Refer to it often and let it serve as a reminder for why you are doing this in the first place. Be encouraged.
A homeschool mission statement may not seem like a big deal when there are so many decisions to be made, but the point of it is to help with making those decisions. Consider your reasons for homeschooling and set out to create a mission statement that allows you to weigh all big decisions against to ensure you stay on track with your family’s goals.
You know why you set out to homeschool your kids. Use those reasons as inspiration to create a mission statement that will see you through the decisions and challenges that come with homeschooling your kids. Remember, your mission is unique and personal to you and your family. Celebrate that and allow it to encourage you and affirm your decision to homeschool.