Dear First Time Homeschooler (Part 2: Mission & Vision): Let’s Do This!

Dear First Time Homeschooler,

I would like to apologize for the delay in getting this series running. Gauging from the traffic in the blog and the number of “shares” for that first piece on this series, I was a bit surprised at the overwhelming response. Pleasantly surprised definitely because wow, there are so many first time homeschoolers out there! Hello !!!!!

From the last post, I did say that I was going into schedules, lessons and possibly curricula, but I realized that I could actually parley a bit more on the Mission/Vision Part.

I researched a bit and found material online that I’d like to share with all of you. This discussion is a result of  some online research ( principles from Glenn Smith’s “Mission, Vision and Values” E-book ) and discussion with my husband of 21 years who I believe is one of the best in creating and yes testing, critiquing, and dissecting ones Mission/Vision.  With my experience, I will try to make these guidelines more applicable to the homeschool setting.

Let’s start with the Mission!

According to Mr. Smith, mission, vision and values form the “bedrock” of every organization. For business to succeed, there has to be some level of “clarity and focus around these three attributes.”*** Let us then, see first our “homeschool” or“school at home” as an organization that needs to have a good foundation. As teachers and even principals, it is paramount that we are able to set our Mission, Vision and Values clearly and recognize the meaningful relationships between these crucial elements.

Glenn Smith defines Mission by stating what it actually does. Why does your homeschool exist?  Why is it there? Why is your child being homeschooled? Businesswise, the mission answers why a company exists. My husband Gilbert who has had extensive training, experience and consultation here and abroad on this subject matter,  however, adds  that it is more than the big “Why”… but more of what you DO. What do you do in your homeschool?

Let’s look at some company missions that answer that question of what they DO?

Look at Google’s simple yet all encompassing mission:

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For Starbucks:

“to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

When we began homeschooling 13 years ago, we didn’t have clear written Mission, Vision and Value statements that supported our homeschooling. I had Bible Verses: Like 2:52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,” and John 17:3-5, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Basically, we desired to raise lifelong learners and God-loving children. We aimed at focusing on godly character first in our lessons as we instilled the love for learning.  We studied the Bible daily and chose material that supported Creation Science, that celebrated the life of godly heroes. We geared our HELE and MAPE activities to expose them, and eventually train them,  to various arts and skills yet highlighting  that we use God’s gifts and talents to serve others  and  glorify Him.

So here is the challenge for you.

Here are 7 reasons, according to Coach Glenn Smith, why we need to clearly write our mission statement.: (Note that all points in italics are from Mr. Smith )

1. It serves as your “North Star.” As mentioned in my last post, there will be “terrible ‘I wish we didn’t homeschool ‘days” that will make you want to scream and throw in the towel. There will be days when, yes, you will envy your non-homeschooling BFFs”. So , before you start wandering off or going downhill, you need to re-calibrate and your Mission Statement will keep you on track.

2. It focuses your company’s ( homeschool’s) future.

Simply put, “It tells you what you are doing today that will take you to where you want to go in the future.”

3. It provides a template or framework, for decision making throughout your  homeschool experience. Your clearly mission statement acts like a map for a tourist or a blueprint for builder.  For instance, when a character issue surfaces during lessons, I have no stress or worries in setting aside the lesson for that time period to address the character concern with a child ( do it individually, in private pls!). That’s because, character comes first in our homeschool set-up.

4. It forms the basis of alignment: Alignment among the members of your homeschool regarding the direction of home education for your children. Members may include parent teacher/s, tutors, coaches, non-teaching parent, students and even other household members (those living in your house like helpers, grandparents, etc).  Usually, your mission, will also guide you in choosing your other tutors or coaches. For our children’s sports activities, we chose coaches that would also impart godly life lessons and truly inspire the children to do their best.

5. It welcomes helpful change. There are situations in every homeschool journey that will need adjustments or major changes. Based on the Newton’s First Law of Motion (Law of Inertia)An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” The tendency is to resist change but if change will help achieve your mission, then welcome it with open arms.

6.It shapes your business (homeschool) strategy. Believe me, you will be bombarded with all the better and much better ways of homeschooling and raising your children. There will be a stiff competition for your attention as the “decision maker” regarding teaching styles, curricula, extra-curricular activities. Your written mission will simply help you focus on the effective elements of your game plan.  Our 4 children belong to a very large clan of 30 grandchildren. Socialization was not a key issue for us. God gave however 2 wonderful support groups in our almost 13 year homeschool journey, now get ready for their names…. The Tuesday Gang and yes the Monday Gang. I have not joined a regular support group since 2012 (when most of the kids from both support groups have moved to regular schools). Since socialization and group activities then were not a priority ( I also wanted to catch up on a lot of other lessons/family activities), we decided to not to join or start a new group.

7. It facilitates evaluation and improvement. With a well-defined mission, you set up what needs to be measured and how. If godly character is part of your mission, are your kids growing in godly traits? What godly traits are important to you and how do you intend to assess this?

For instance, your students struggle with “sharing”, you may opt to include lessons and stories that highlight compassion and generosity.

In addition here are Coach Glenn’s tips on the formula for a good mission statement:

  1. Start with an infinite. “We exist “to_________(verb) “…….” or it could be more direct as in “Our mission is to…….”
  2. Name your target.   Homeschooling’s target audience is the students. However, we all know that parents are also part of the “learning” journey. It’s your call, if you would like to include parents in your target.
  3. Make sure your statement passes the T-Shirt test. It should be able to be printed in a T-shirt and still readable.

As mentioned earlier, our mission was a mash up of Bible verses which I didn’t really put into clearly worded written statement 13 or so years ago. With probably 2 more years of homeschooling for us as we have released ¾ of the children, with a lot of hindsight to back me up ( which many first timers won’t have a lot of so you need to really brainstorm), this is our Family’s mission statement:

Mission:
To create a fun-filled and loving environment at home, to help students discover their gifts, to encourage creativity, to teach how to diligently study God’s Word.

Vision, on the other hand, is simply what you want to see, what you envision your children/ and or family to be . As the term itself connotes, it is “what is seen or appreciated by sight”. Simply put, it is a picture of the future we seek to create. It’s your “preferred future”.

This is our family / homeschooling vision:

To see the family love God, love others and love learning.

Let me share with you the Pozon’s Homeschooling Mission ( Len is my BFF and Miguel is my godson) .

“To create a happy and creative learning environment with God as our Master teacher and the world as our classroom.”

Their vision:

“God fearing Miguel with a global mind and Filipino heart.”

So in summary, mission is what you do and in some way, it does answer why you exist, while your vision is what you envision to achieve in doing your mission daily.

So now, I challenge you review the points in this post and yes, brainstorm with your spouse/partner and even more mature children who can participate.  Brainstorm and together, create your family’s homeschooling Mission and Vision.   Some even create some coat of arms or logo to go along with their Mission and Vision Statements.  Do art activities to create posters and mount them in your classroom, print letterheads with your logo and M/V Statements (as part of Creative Writing,  your students will have to write formal/informal/requests/etc letters and you can use these!) .

In our next post, we shall discuss CORE VALUES that will include the other MUST HAVE components of your homeschooling experience. And yes, we will eventually get to the nitty gritty of planning our your homeschool schedule, be patient, we will get there!

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Proverbs 29:18 18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

*Credit to Raya Simpao for our featured image with the saying and cute panda!