I love FALL and starting school is one of my favorite times of the year! I love shopping for new supplies, adding new books to our shelves, and reorganizing our study area! (Not to mention all of the back to school shopping bargains at the $1 store, Target and Staples!) There’s nothing like the sound of a crisp new book, a fresh new notebook with wrinkle-free white pages, or the smell of new highlighters. Christmas for me comes in August when all of our new books arrive from Amazon! I am giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning when I see our box of markers is actually full, the pencils are all sharpened and the backpacks are food-free, sock-free and trash-free!
With the beginning of a new year, comes the promise of traveling to far away, exotic (and sometimes even imaginary) worlds, finding new heroes to emulate, new music to master, meeting new friends (in real life and in books) and sinking my teeth into a new challenge or hobby. However, the most important thing I do even before planning our homeschool year or purchasing our new supplies is I cover our new school year in prayer!
For those of you who attended our Homeschooling Mom Event last March, you heard me share a little bit about our “Day of Dedication.” This is not only my favorite thing to do before school starts, but I consider it the most important thing to do before our studies begin.
DAY OF DEDICATION
First, if you have little ones, I strongly suggest you get your hubby on board or enlist a fellow homeschooling mom to help. When my kids were younger, I would set one whole day aside in August. My husband would take the kids on a fun, all-day outing so I could have the entire house to myself.
Second, I spread out all of the books, curriculum, class flyers, computer CD’s, etc on the family room floor. I literally get on my knees, bow before my heavenly Father and pray over EVERYTHING.
- I pray that God will meet us each and every day in our lessons and in everything we will study.
- I pray that my family will meet God in a new way this coming year; that our knowledge, love, and devotion to Him and His Word would be deepened through all of our studies. (Yes, I even pray God would not only help us get through math without tears but that my kids would see God in a new way through studying even math!)
- I pray that God’s plans, not mine, will prevail in the coming school year. I pray that His will, not mine, will be done.
- I pray for the courage to really let God take control of our school year and that I would obediently and cheerfully take the passenger seat.
- I pray for God to give me discernment on what books, classes and/or curriculum are important to my child’s growth and development this year and which ones can or should be eliminated. More isn’t always better!
- I then pray for the courage to remove the things from our schedules, our lessons, (and maybe even our lives) that are not God’s best for each child.
After I pray over our books and our plans, I then dedicate the year and all we do to the Lord. Each year I find a verse I feel God is calling us to obey or a promise to claim. I print the verse and put it on our refrigerator. I put it in my Bible as a bookmark. I write it on the inside of my son’s planner, and I keep it saved on my laptop as one of my screensavers. I find having the verse everywhere reminds me to pray the verse and pray it often! The Lord always makes it clear to me what our yearly verse should be and this summer was no exception.
As I began working on our next Homeschooling Mom Event in March (2020), I decided to teach from the Book of Jonah. In my studies, Jonah 4:2 and Jonah 2:7 really stood out, so I highlighted it and moved on. Then throughout the summer through sermons, personal bible studies and discussions with my family, I was reminded that God’s abounding love and grace is unconditional and limitless and that all I need to do is cry out to Him. I also felt God was reminding me that as a child of God, as one of His own, I needed to be more like Him. God was calling me to more gracious, more compassionate, and slow to anger. I needed to give love abundantly not only to my family but to those I serve in the homeschooling community. So Jonah 4:2 is our family’s 2019-2020 family verse. It is a promise and a command that I will cling to and try to obey this coming year.
Once I pick a family verse for the year, I pray the verse over our family and then dedicate our lives, our family and our school year to the Lord: “May everything we do and say be for the honor and glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in His sight. May the Lord bless us, keep us and shine his face upon us. May the Lord be gracious to us, turn his face upon us and give us peace” (1 Cor 10: 31, Ps 19:14, and Numbers 6:24-26). Each year, I also pray Ephesians 3:14-21 and insert my children’s name in each verse.
Next, I turn my attention to each child in particular. With prayer, I write four to five goals for each child. One is always a spiritual goal, one is usually a social or emotional goal, one is an academic goal and one tends to focus on character building. As my kids matured, I included them in picking a spiritual goal, an extra academic goal and even a personal growth goal. Now that my daughter is in college, I ask her what specifically she wants me to pray for her during the year. Using these goals, I pray for God to reveal a personal verse for each child. I look through my Bible and my journal for scripture verses that God had been sharing with me during the summer. Once a verse is revealed, it becomes the child’s theme verse for the year. I pray this verse for my child each morning as we prepare for school and each week as I plan lessons. (Even though my daughter is in college, I still pick a bible verse to pray specifically for her during the semester.) Sometimes I even include a personal bible verse I feel God is declaring as a promise for a particular child.
Finally, I decide what our family devotions will look like for the year. No two years have ever been the same. A few years may have been similar but as the kids grew, their personalities developed, their character strengths (and flaws) become apparent, and our family schedules changed, so did our morning devotion time. Every season of homeschooling has been different. Therefore, our family devotions were molded to meet our spiritual needs each year.
When the kids were young, we simply read a Bible story during family devotion time from either DK’s Illustrated Family Bible or The Child’s Story Bible by Vos. I would switch back and forth different years for variety. We would simply read the bible story, discuss what happened, what we can learn from the story and most importantly, how we could apply those truths that very day! Some years I would pick a devotional that related to our main topic of study for the year. A few years we focused on Animal studies and zoology so we used God’s Amazing Creatures and Me by Haidle. One year when the kids were older and they still loved animals, we used The Big Book of Animal Devotions by Coleman. Not only were we learning about God’s creation but we were also connecting it to biblical truths. Several years we “traveled” the world through history, art, science, math, and literature, so we used Window on the World by Spraggett. We used it again in high school the year my son took Comparative Religions. Each page gives a description of a particular culture or country and then gives ways to pray for that country.
Some years we did Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) as a family so the kids and I would read the bible passages and answer the questions together. Our favorite BSF studies were The Life of Moses (Exodus to Deuteronomy), Acts of the Apostles (an awesome study of Paul and most of his epistles) and The Gospel of John. As the kids grew older, they each read independently either from their bibles or from a little devotional book. When my son was middle school age, he loved The One Year Sports Devotional Book. My daughter was always partial to anything related to the study of Esther! Sometimes we would just pick an inspirational book we wanted to read as a family. I would read a chapter during family devotion time and then we would discuss biblical truths and daily applications. Some of our best discussions were sparked by Ben Carson’s biography, Gifted Hands, Tim Tebow’s book, Shaken, Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis and Heaven is for Real by Burpo.
As an added bonus, each summer I pick one of my favorite go-to homeschooling books to reread and to enjoy. Some of my favorites by Sally Clarkson, Sarah MacKenzie, and Dr. Raymond Moore have so many nuggets of truth and sound biblical advice that I find rereading one of these books each summer inspires me and encourages me to begin fresh each school year.
DAY OF DEDICATION In a nutshell:
- Set aside a day for solitude, planning, and prayer.
- Pray over EVERYTHING that will be read, used and/or studied this coming school year.
- Pick a Bible verse to pray over your family, your home and your homeschooling this year. Print it and place it in numerous places.
- On bended knee, pray and dedicate your school year to the Lord.
- Write 4-5 goals for each of your children. Then with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, pick a bible verse and/or biblical promise for each of your children. Use this verse to pray for and over each child during the school year.
- Choose a bible study and/or devotional you will use for family devotion time during the year.
- For fun, reread one of your favorite, go-to homeschooling books or author.
- Wait on the Lord and expect Him to do miraculous and wonderful things in the lives of your children and in your homeschooling journey this year.
May God richly bless your homeschooling adventure this year for His Glory,
***Mark your calendars for March 27-28th. If you live in the southern California area, we would love for you to join us for our next homeschooling mom event: Homeschooling Adventures: A Weekend to Refresh, Rest and Rejuvenate. It will be a weekend of encouragement, refreshment, and fellowship. At the conference, we will share more on the topic of how to prepare for a new homeschooling year as well as teach an in-depth study of the Book of Jonah. For more information on the event and sessions, visit our tab “Upcoming Events.” Make sure you “like” and “follow” our blog for monthly topics on Christian homeschooling and for updates on our early bird registration (Jan. 1st 2020) for our homeschooling mom event in March.***