Homeschooling becomes a way of life as soon as you let go of the "learning-must-occur-from-8-to-3" thought process. When that happens, a sense of being a bit scattered seems to take over. Moving from sharing moments that are simply "being, sharing, and enjoying," to seeing (really seeing) that each moment is an opportunity to learn, can cause a person's mind to explode if the overall understanding of childhood and the importance of goals, planning, and spontaneity are not fully grasped.

As parents, we have an amazing opportunity to help lead our children down a path specifically designed for each of them. Each child, created for a specific purpose, with individual gifts, provides the world with something that no one else has.

We must find those gifts and talents, and enable our children to grow them. However, we cannot do this to the detriment of our family or society.

Utilizing steps, such as those below, to help plan for your family can lead to attaining your goals, and will bring unity to your family.

Prepare a mission statement

  • Write a mission statement for your family. Your mission statement should include the overall goal and purpose you have for your family.

Plan for your family

  • Identify long- and short-term goals that will help you attain your mission.
  • Example A: If your family desires to be missionaries, focusing on any debt you have would be something to add to your plan—as would paying off debt in a specified time.
  • Example B: If your family desires to be the home on the block where everyone wants to visit and spend time, focus on learning about hospitality and preparing your home for guests.

Identify individual mission statements

  • Have (or help) each person in your family (adults and children) write his or her own mission statement.
  • Identify how each individual's mission supports the family mission statement. If it does not, something is out of line and you'll have a home divided.

Identify individual strengths/gifts

  • Identify the individual strengths/gifts of each person in your family.
  • Identify how these gifts support the family and individual mission statements.
  • Make a plan to grow these gifts beyond their current state.

Plan your learning

  • Items you will need
    • Family and individual mission statements
    • List of family and individual strengths/gifts
    • Planner
    • Pencil
    • Time
  • Once you have everything you need, identify what you want to accomplish for the year.
  • Write an overall plan for the year.
  • For your first month, find a starting point.
    • Identify where you want to begin with each subject, topic, or unit (depending on how you implement learning in your home).
    • Each week, identify your overall goals and what you want to cover (for each child) every day.
    • Leave room in your schedule for topics your children decide they want to learn about.
  • At the end of the month
    • Identify goals met and unmet.
    • Identify goals that need to be changed.
    • Review your family and individual mission statements and strengths.
      • Do you need to refocus?
      • Are you on the right path?
      • Are your children gaining ground in areas of weaknesses?
      • Are you having fun?

As you go through your planning—annually, monthly, and daily—it will become easier to plan and grow. And, more importantly, it will become easier to make changes and adjustments that fit the needs of your family based on your goals.

Most importantly, do not get caught up in your planning. Do not let it rule you. There will be months where everything falls into place, and months where it all may seem to fall apart.

Either way, you have a beautiful opportunity to teach your children. I like to recall this proverb that makes the point eloquently:

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail."

While planning is important, the opportunity to teach and walk the walk does not end there. You are also teaching your children the importance of setting and writing down goals—and then working to achieve them.

What do you do if your goals are not achieved and your plans are not met? Model and mentor your children through this. Identify why you did not reach your plans or goals. Did outside circumstances keep you from attaining those plans or goals? A death, illness, or travels?

While your plans or goals may not have been met, what did you learn? Did they give you an opportunity to take another path? One less traveled? One you did not quite contemplate or even have knowledge of? Life is not perfect; plans and goals are often unmet or require adjusting.

Include your children in the process. Give them the life tools they will need so that when they are met with unexpected changes of plans that then lead to changing their goals, they will be prepared.

Do you have a family mission statement? Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your family? How do you plan—and do you plan for change?

Rebecca is married to the love of her life, and she is the mother of three children. She writes about faith, life, nutrition, and homeschooling at Mom's Mustard Seeds (

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