Can someone please tell me-- Why do we go to back to school? Is it because we HAVE to? Is it because we want our kids to have good jobs when they get older? Is it because they need to be occupied, or we'll all go crazy? Are those truly the reasons we educate our children?
If your family is like ours, you may find yourselves scrambling as the start of school approaches. You may be squeezing in that last minute trip, finishing up projects around the house, attempting major re-organization in the hall closet, or working through behavior and attitude issues with your child. Whatever it is, you are probably feeling the deadline of the beginning of the Fall semester. Sometimes we get so distracted by the logistics of all that we endeavor to do that we may overlook the purpose for which we are doing it! Whether you are a homeschooling or a traditional schooling parent, back to school time is an opportunity to refocus on the how and why of school...for your kids AND for you. This year, with many projects still left incomplete, I’m making a priority of re-writing a mission statement for WHO our family will be this school year, and WHY we are choosing to do school the way we do.
Think of a Mission statement as a GPS. Most of us would not attempt to start a business, launch an organization, or embark on an adventure without some defined purpose or clear direction of where you are headed. It’s not wise to enter into choppy waters without a compass! In the same way, the back-to-school family needs to have unified purpose and goals for the school year. This way, when times get tough (as they always do!), you can easily revisit your family’s mission statement and lean on what you KNOW versus what you FEEL in the moment. For a homeschooling family, a mission statement serves as a means of encouragement and anchor when progress seems slow and the discouragement is high. For a traditional school family, a mission statement can be a strong reminder of what your family stands for and why you are a part of your school community.
Mission statements can be different for every family, but here are some tips to get you started:
Have a family meeting to discuss these questions, and pen it together!
- What is your purpose?-- in education, as a family, in your relationships at school and in the home?
- How do you seek to fulfill that purpose?
- How do you view and respond to challenges to that purpose?
By way of example, this is our family's Back To School Mission Statement:
We, the Simons, believe that the purpose of education is to honor Christ and to grow in life and godliness. We strive to live out the Latin proverb: “Pro vita discimus. Pro Christo vivimus “, which means: "We learn for life; we live for Christ." Learning is for the purpose of becoming more fruitful and faithful to Christ’s service, and not simply to get ahead or earn a good living. Learning is an attitude, not an activity. In light of this mission, we strive for excellence in all areas of learning while we seek to have God prune us in areas of laziness, pride, and complacency. We desire to excel academically for the purpose of glorifying Christ and using all the faculties He has blessed us with, to the greatest capacity. We strive to grow in the fruit of the Spirit-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control --in our relationships with one another in the home, and at school. We know we are sinful and weak, and cannot accomplish this task in our own strength, and acknowledge that it is by God’s grace and faithfulness that we strive to bear his image in school this year, both on campus and in the home.
(**Our family co-founded a Classical, Christian, University-model school, where our children split their time between school and home campuses.)
Mission statements will be tweaked as your family changes and grows, but at the core, it stands to remind you of what your family is about, and why you educate your children as you choose. School is not a mere formality, nor back-to-school an obligation. Education is a means to an end...an end that may look very different than what the world may esteem. Take some time to discern and voice those convictions as a family, discerning and staying the course for educating the hearts of your children as the tide of back-to-school rolls in.
Rejoicing in the finished and yet to come,
Today's post is part of our Back to School series!