5 Thoughts On Building an Intentional Homeschool

Homeschooling is of itself intentional.  When I decided to make intentionality my mission, I found there is much written on the subject.  After sifting this advice through the lens of homeschooling, I have found 5 thoughts that pervade our daily life in my quest to be intentional.  They are active, daily, and hourly choices.

Some days I have failed miserably.  But on the days where I purposed to be intentional, they are the ones I savor and remember.  They are the ones my kids savor and remember most too.  It isn’t about doing more, but being more fully in the moment, whatever you are doing.  And the surprising outcome has been that I have found more joy in my life even in doing things I “didn’t want to do”.

Intention is a learning process that starts in the mind.  Being intentional, therefore, begins with a change in thinking.

1– To be intentional is to be deliberate.

Be deliberate by purposefully designing your life. That is not to say that everything will always work out like you planned. Or that you have to have every moment planned. But it does mean that no matter how it turns out, you are there, fully present in the moment.  It is the opposite of a victim mentality.  It is about thinking about what you are doing with mindfulness.  Why do you wash your dishes?  Because you want a clean house.  Why do you do laundry?  It is an act of love for your family.

Being proactive deliberately changes your perspective.  Burning a candle while you pay bills or during your devotion time, listening to audio books on cd while you make dinner, playing music when you do artwork with your kids, or turning OFF the music when you run must be purposed.  And it makes doing anything more enjoyable.  It becomes a privilege.

Prayer is a big component of being deliberate. These constant dialogues with God are the most intentional conversations you will ever have.

pray

Our lives are made up of choices.  Even if we do not choose, we are choosing.

As my oldest prepares to graduate in 8 short weeks, I have looked back over these last years and see where I was intentional and where I failed.  Everyday the sun rises and sets so quickly, and I don’t want to waste precious time.  Because I have found that in a blink of an eye, this time is gone.

2– A well lived life is one in which it is noticed.

Just for today, notice everything and everyone.  Consider who and what God has put in your path each day and why.  Include interruptions.  Especially interruptions.  (this is not easy for control freaks me ) Noticing allows us to appreciate the plan that God has designed for us, even when we do not understand the valleys or mountain top experiences.  Who you are and who you are becoming are made up of these small seemingly unimportant moments.  This couldn’t be truer in homeschooling.

gratitude

As Charlotte Mason said, “Education is a life.”  That means all of it;  Dirty socks, prayers, death or sickness, math, and giggles.  Pray together, laugh together, learn together.  Don’t create lines where learning starts and stops. Recognize and notice that all of life is a part of learning and your children will notice it too.

The best way to notice is to slow down.  I still struggle with this.

flowers

This photo was taken by an old run down building in the middle of weeds.

3– Appreciate moments.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5: 19 (NIV)

moment

Sometimes it is hard to be grateful in the midst of money shortfalls, M.S., or the constant messiness of living.  And I still catch myself in the ugliness of yelling over spilt milk.  But all of our moments are woven into an extraordinary melody.  One way to appreciate this is to count moments, intentionally. Begin a grateful journal and record blessings.  The very act of counting forces us to look at small moments, capture them, and intently appreciate them for what they are….a gift.

4– Be Intentionally Undistracted

See more, taste more, feel more.  Go outside more.  Waste Spend time intentionally noticing.

intentional1

Put down the electronics.  Little ones grow so quickly, you hardly notice.  But notice.  How I long to have those days when my oldest snuggled in my lap.

I recently ran at the park and noticed a young mom with two toddlers.  As they played, her full interest and attention was on her cell phone, deafened to the noise of “Mom, watch me!”  As I lapped around again, she was still focused in her lap on her phone.  Her kids had stopped asking.  I took a picture of all of them and she didn’t even notice…  She is teaching her kids where to focus, even though she is doing it unwittingly.  And I felt sorry for her.  I understand the addiction (see Simon Sinek’s video below), that is why we have to be intentional about putting it down.

Be fully there, wherever you are.  This is something I have to purpose. Focus on the person in front of you, or engage your senses in where you are now.  You have to purpose yourself not think about the next thing– but it is freeing to do this.  You will notice things about people and situations you would have normally missed.

I read a book called The Joy Diet and one of Ms. Beck’s challenges is to be quiet for 15 minutes every day.  This is not quiet devotion and prayer time but the act of being totally quiet for 15 minutes.  How hard could it be? I failed miserably.  Really?   This has been one of THE hardest things I have practiced in my life.  And it takes practice. Even now.

5–Serve others intentionally.

“We are built for service.”  Simon Sinek

Create an environment where everyone helps each other.  Search out, pray, and promote this with your friends/co-workers, in your homeschool support groups, with your play group moms, and in your home.  Look for ways to help others whether it is letting someone out in traffic, forwarding information to someone who needs it, picking up your husband’s underwear, or helping your littles sometimes with their chores.  It is the little things of everyday that inspire others to do the same.  And it really makes life a better place.  You have the power to create this kind of community.

I recently watched this video of Simon Sinek.  He mentions that few alcoholics will stay sober unless they make it to the 12th Step. Because Step 12, the last step in AA’s program, is devoted to service.  His point is made towards the end of the video.

Helping others is the most intentional thing we can do.

sun

One of the most purposed undertakings I have accomplished was going to Haiti with my daughter.  It would not have happened if I had not been intentional.  Our nursing home ministry has been an intentional endeavor on the second Tuesday of every month for the last 14 years.  I never dreamed it would have lasted so long.

Haiti Sunset

Haiti Sunset

What are some ways you are intentional in your homeschool?

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