I often ask guests of my podcast, Life as a Lifeschooler, which part of the definition of lifeschooling particularly resonates with them, but when I try to answer that same question, I find it very difficult. However, one aspect of lifeschooling that I feel is sometimes overlooked is the very last word: “mission.”
Lifeschooling is the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.
We should never, as homeschoolers, feel that our personal or family missions belong on the back burner after formal academics. That may sound radical, but isn’t it Biblical? Often, when we seek to truly live as the Bible commands, we will look a bit radical, but one of the theme verses for our homeschool (and lifeschooling in general) is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33
Lifeschooling is a holistic approach to education and certainly personal and family missions can be a part of that. There are lessons to be learned as we carry out the missions God has called us to, both individually and as a family unit. And the academics will fit into those real life experiences. And I would go even further to say that even if we don’t necessarily see any academic lessons, the lessons learned are far more important — eternally important — than any academic lessons we could be teaching!
“We should never, as homeschoolers, feel that our personal or family missions belong on the back burner after formal academics.”
One other important thing to remember is that lifeschooling isn’t something that we someday “graduate” from. Sure, there may be a formal ceremony of some sort, but lifeschooling is a lifestyle that should continue throughout our children’s lives. And it should be present in our own lives, as well, as an example for our children to follow. In seeking first the Kingdom of God in my own life, I have been called to the Lifeschooling Conference and to helping other homeschooling moms break free from the bondage that tells us education must look a certain way.
“Lifeschooling isn’t something that we someday ‘graduate’ from.”
In pursuing our God-given missions, however, we must also learn balance and to keep the most important things first…our greatest missions. And that is why I had to cancel this year’s conference (2018). God was leading me to pull back and refocus on my family, and in doing so, He has also led me in another less stressful direction in this year of rest: blogging.
Enter Heather Bowen.
I “met” Heather online. Don’t we live in an amazing time? Heather runs the Life of a Homeschool Mom blog and also Homeschool Blogging and the thing that instantly impressed me about her was her generosity and kindness in helping other homeschool bloggers. I have Heather to thank for helping me grow my e-mail list and learn some of the basics of blogging. There is no competitive spirit, no jealous guarding of secrets.
So when I had the amazing opportunity to go away on the Homeschool Blogging at the Beach retreat not horribly far from me in Myrtle Beach with her and several other bloggers, I knew this was an opportunity from God. This was a chance to spend a whole weekend with a lady who really knows her stuff…for just the cost of lodging! (And since I was able to help reserve our own timeshare, it was free for me!!) As this blog is about lifeschooling, I won’t go into a lot of detail about what I learned professionally, but you can read some of my new friends’ blogs here:
What I will say is that taking a trip away to work on a personal mission–or even to work on projects that will help with her first mission, her family–is something every mom should do from time to time. How else can we live up to the high example of the Proverbs 31 woman, an amazing business woman, if we don’t take time out to focus? This is certainly not the first time I have done this. In fact, though I don’t typically take so many trips, a couple weeks later, I went away again with my friend, Barbara, who is writing a book about her personal cancer story. (You can learn more about her ministry, Created to Proclaim, here).
“Taking a trip away to work on a personal mission–or even to work on projects that will help with her first mission, her family–is something every mom should do from time to time.”
We can tend to feel guilty about leaving our families to “fend for themselves,” but taking time to dedicate intentional focus on our personal missions gives us mental rest when we come back home, as there is such encouragement knowing we have made progress on some goals. There is nothing like dedicated time to just focus on one thing, without interruptions! We come back refreshed and ready to refocus on our first priority, our families.
So, besides the benefits for mom, how does a homeschool blogging retreat–or any other work retreat—apply to Lifeschooling our children? Well, there are many ways!
Teaches Personal Responsibility
First of all, retreats and work trips are an opportunity for our children to sharpen their sense of personal responsibility. How do they function when Mom is not around to check up on them? Do they take their role as part of the family seriously? I must say, I am often impressed with how my children step up when I am gone. Maybe it’s just that I tend to pick up the slack when I’m home whereas Daddy just makes them follow through. 😉 But actually, it is more than that. When I am not around, they know that their father depends on them more to help, especially given his health difficulties. It is a sense of responsibility that has truly been internalized and they want to be able to be counted on.
“Retreats and work trips are an opportunity for our children to sharpen their sense of personal responsibility.”
The wonderful text I received from my 14-year-old daughter Friday night is evidence of this:
“Your kitchen is clean. Your living room is clean. The hallways are clean. Dishes are done and running. Half the clothes have been folded. The sink and counters are clean and wiped. All floors have been vacuumed besides bathrooms and bedrooms. We ate well. I finished all my schoolwork. Korban cooperated well and went to bed at 8:45. Konur and I are going to bed now. I also somehow found time to complete my drawing. Twas a good day. Hope you’re doing well. Also, none of it was prompted by Daddy. *RESPONSIBILITY: TAKEN*”
And then on Saturday night:
“Ate pizza. Put pizza away. Cleaned whole kitchen. Cleaned sink. Ran dishwasher. Did all dishes. Had movie night. Got reading done. Going to bed. Love you.”
Oh what joy fills my heart to get such text messages! And to know it was done without prompting…all the better! These are life skills that will be used day after day in their adult lives. And did I make sure to read those texts out loud to all my new friends? Oh, don’t you know it! 😉
Teaches me Skills that I can Share with Them
One of the benefits of working on our own missions is that the skills and knowledge we acquire are often transferable to what our children are interested in. Many moms attend homeschooling conferences, knowing that they are sharpening their teaching skills and learning how to be better homeschooling moms. But sometimes conferences that help us with our personal missions have information that is equally valuable for our children to learn and apply to their own pursuits. So if you still struggle with the idea of going away, look at it as just another form of teacher training!
“If you still struggle with the idea of going away, look at it as just another form of teacher training!”
On the retreat, I learned some wonderful tricks and ideas that will not only help me, but also my kids. Since Elleina is pursuing acting and writing, she needs to begin to develop her own following. Social media is a big part of that and I learned about an amazing scheduling tool that will allow me to schedule all my social media posts. This is great information for her to put to use, as well! And certainly will be beneficial to my son with some of his pursuits on the horizon.
I was also reminded of the importance of creating regular content on my blog, a task that sometimes seems impossible! One of the assignments I plan to give to Elleina is writing a new blog post every week. This will teach her how to connect with her readers and develop her own “voice,” as writing a blog is different than writing a novel.
Personal Connections that Can Help in Lifeschooling
Going away on a work retreat or to a conference also gives you the priceless opportunity to broaden your base of personal connections for lifeschooling (and for entrepreneurship, which is often involved). I certainly gained some lovely friendships at the blogger retreat! The value of friendships is something Daniel Lapin talks about in book (which my son is currently reading as an assignment), Thou Shall Prosper. And to clarify, it is not looking at people as simply business connections. In fact, it is the opposite of that. The goal is to truly form friendships because when you have many friends, you can help each other, and there is strength in numbers!
“Going away on a work retreat or to a conference also gives you the priceless opportunity to broaden your base of personal connections.”
Focusing on what you can give to the individuals God brings into your life is the key to building good friendships, which in turn is how God will prosper you (Luke 6:38)…and not necessarily monetarily. (Ooooo…that was a cool rhyme I did there!) That should not be our primary goal, and if it is, it will be obvious to those we are supposedly trying to befriend. We should give, regardless of whether or not it may benefit us. Certainly that is the example Heather has set in her business pursuits! I don’t feel that I have much to offer her, but she has been more than generous with all her knowledge and “secrets”! I want to give back to her and the other bloggers I met because it is truly “more blessed to give than to receive.”
So I hope I will have some opportunities to help my new friends! And I am thankful for how they have helped me already. Just learning what Deana charges to build a website was very helpful, as my son has some experience in this area and that bit of information helped him recognize that this is a viable way to make some money! I know Natalie and I will be able to strengthen each other as we agreed to be accountability partners, a practice Heather encouraged all of us to do, and she has already been checking up on me!
Builds Family Relationships
The last benefit I want to mention is how it helps to build family relationships. Let’s face it, when Mom is around, Dad can sometimes feel as though he is not as needed. We moms tend to handle many of the daily household chores and emotional needs of our children. But sometimes it is good for dads to be put into this role, as it not only gives them a glimpse into our world for empathy’s sake, but also helps them build connections with their children and sets an example to them of how husbands and wives sacrifice for each other.
Solid relationships are the foundation of a healthy homeschooling family. And one-on-one time, from time to time, is always worth the time! 🙂 Even if the time spent is simply living everyday life. The dynamics of the family change with just one parent and it is good to have these experiences. I know in our home (and my friend’s), Dad is a bit of a stricter disciplinarian, so having some focused time with him is certainly not a bad thing! 😉
“One-on-one time, from time to time, is always worth the time!”
So I hope this has encouraged you to examine this part of your lifeschooling. Are you allowing yourself time to dedicate to your personal missions? As long as your primary focus remains on your family, then don’t feel guilty! Plan that getaway, sign up for that work retreat, or go to that conference. Spend some time focused on refining your skills and accomplishing some specific goals for your mission, and you will find the benefits extend beyond just yourself.