"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies," proclaims Joe Fox in the beloved cozy cinematic piece You've Got Mail. A similar sentiment strikes me in the summer. Doesn't a homeschool mom love the slowness of summer? It makes us want to peruse booklists and curriculum lineups. And of course, buy bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils.
Truly, there is something exciting about preparing for and planning a new school year. It's a new start, and, hopefully, the break has given us new perspective and renewed interest and vigor.
How to Prayerfully Plan Your School Year
Regardless your educational philosophy or your preferred homeschool curriculum company, preparing for a new school year is not something we should not do on our own. As disciples of Christ who want to follow Him wholeheartedly alongside our families, we must let Him steer the school ship, too. This ultimately means that we should turn to Him regarding our children's educational paths in general. It also means that, if He has called us to homeschooling, that we allow His Holy Spirit to direct our efforts there, too.
We can easily overlook this key component when planning a school year. We get excited and overwhelmed and turn to Instagram rather than the Instructor Who knows our family best. Trust me, I'm the first in line for a good booklist, but at the end of the day, I want my school year to look how the Lord desires it to look.
So how can we prayerfully plan a new school year?
1. Pray and Surrender
When I'm ready to plan our next school year, I always start in prayer. I head to the Adoration chapel and sit before Him. I spend some time talking with Him about my loose plans for the year, what I'm eager for, what I'm afraid of, and so on. I lay down our year before Him, acknowledging that apart from Him I can do nothing. I ask for His guidance and dedicate our school year to Him.
2. Consider Your Season
Then, it's time to put pen to paper. Before mapping out the specifics of our academics, I first pause to honestly consider our season. I've been at this long enough to know that life can and will "happen," so to be realistic about what are already our circumstances sets us up for flexibility rather than feelings of failure.
Our family will be welcoming a new baby this year. If I ignore this fact and plan as if our world will not be adjusting, I am a fool. Instead of being frustrated by the many interruptions that will occur, I can view this time as a different type of educational process for my other children and lean into this beautiful, unique opportunity for them to learn about this phase of family life. While I must make adjustments to our lineup, this is the thing I'm most excited about this year!
3. What Do Their Hearts Need?
Next, I talk with God about the children. He is their Father and He knows what they need most. I reflect on our needs as a family and on those of each individual child. How can I best steward their minds and hearts this year? What struggles are they facing? What natural gifts has the Lord given them that I have the opportunity to cultivate? Perhaps my current curriculum lineup will aid their formation as human persons; perhaps I need to shift things around. This, of course, will need to be revisited as we live the weeks and months. But it's a great question to take to prayer to help us stay on our ultimate mission.
From here, I map out our school year according to my personality type. I lay out a road map for us that I know will meet many-a-detour, but I lay it out anyway in love and fidelity.
4. Ask for Conversion
Finally, I know that I am unable to do any of this by my own power. So I ask the Lord to transform my heart to be ever-more like His. I ask Our Lady to fill in the gaps in my motherhood. And I beg the Holy Spirit to inspire me as our year progresses, showing me where I need to lean in, where I need to let go, and how I need to adjust my expectations or approach. I need a converted heart in order to do what I desire to do in our school year, and that involves falling more in love with the Divine Teacher.
How do you prayerfully plan your school year? What are you most excited about in the coming year?