It’s your first time homeschooling. You want to do a good job, so you’ve been researching. But what you’ve found is that research breeds more research. An article leads to a book. A book leads to a blog. A blog leads to a forum, and so on and so forth. Like tribbles, the information multiplies until you are overwhelmed and in danger of losing your food stores.

Should you pursue classical education or unschooling? Should you use an all-in-one curriculum or unit studies? Should you register your child for electives at the local government school or sign them up for homeschool athletics? Somehow you are supposed to pair down this abundance of information into a cohesive, logical educational plan. Making the right choices confounds veteran homeschoolers, how are first timers supposed to wade through the muck?  

I know this sounds odd, but write a mission statement. “A mission statement?” you might be thinking. “Isn’t that the motto posted on fast food restaurant walls?” Yes, it is. Businesses and organizations use them all the time to focus the company’s efforts on a specific purpose. They can accomplish the same thing for your home education program. A mission statement helps you focus your research and is a guiding template for everything from curriculum choices to evaluation methods.

While some know exactly what they want to accomplish when they decide to homeschool, most only know they are dissatisfied with the status quo. For me, all I knew for certain was that homeschooling was God’s plan for our family. Other than the three Rs (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic), I had no clue what I wanted my son to learn.

What is important to you and your family? For some, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is a priority. For others, the arts are tantamount. Some families crave structure, and others embrace flexibility. If you haven’t thought about it before, now’s the time to consider your educational objectives. Take a moment to write down those ideas.

After brainstorming, rank your ideas in order of importance. What gets top billing? What would be nice, but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen? After setting your priorities, string it all together in one succinct phrase. Voila! You have a mission statement.

Here’s mine: “The Wilson family homeschools in order to provide our sons with the proper foundation for developing Godly character, learning good decision-making skills, fostering creative thought, and maintaining a reasonable level of knowledge.” Notice I mention education last. Academics, while important, are not our family’s main goal, and our statement reflects that philosophy.     

Questions abound the first year of homeschooling from what time to begin the school day to what is the right curriculum? Having a clear, concise vision, cuts through all the confusion and helps you make the right choices for your family. With a mission statement, research becomes a manageable task, and you’ll have more confidence in the choices you make for your first school year!

Excerpts from the article “What Is Your Mission?” ©2012 Home Life, Inc. Originally published in Practical Homeschooling magazine. Used by permission.