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How to Inspire My Kids to Start the School Year Strong

by Jessica Parnell | Aug 01, 2016 | 2 min read

I can still picture my first day at Calvin Christian School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I walked into a classroom filled with twenty-one fellow sixth graders—nineteen of whom had been together since kindergarten. I was excited but terrified.There, at the front of the classroom was Mr. Harris—the man who would be my homeroom, English, and Bible teacher.

Mr. Harris was inspiring; he was funny; he knew how to make things interesting, and he was almost always upbeat. But most of all, he knew how to bring out the best in each of us. He took the time to get to know his students and to share his life with us. By the end of my sixth-grade year, I counted him as one of my favorite people of all time.

You see, Mr. Harris did not see himself as responsible for teaching us the skills of English and a knowledge of the Bible (although he did that). He saw himself as responsible for inspiring us to become the men and women we were created to be. And to do that, he needed to know us—to develop a relationship with us.

That is what makes him memorable.

As you look ahead to the new homeschool year, consider what it is that undergirds your homeschool purpose. Most of us do not choose to homeschool because we want to teach every subject, 5 days a week and be responsible for ensuring that our kids gain all of the skills and knowledge they need to conquer what lies ahead (although we do that).

For most of us, homeschooling is about much more than academics.

We want to inspire our kids. We want to give them opportunities to develop their God-given gifts and talents. We want to see them pursue their interests and discover their passions. We want to give them the freedom to be creative, to do school differently, to explore!
We want to be their cheerleader, their inspiration, their partner in learning. We want them to develop character and strong relationships within our family.

These are things we want to keep in mind as we head into the new school year.

Chances are you hope to see your kids develop a deeper passion for learning, more confidence in their own abilities, stronger character, and opportunities to express who they are. These are the things that will last a lifetime.

So before you begin mapping out your schedule, planning what subjects you will tackle and when, or gathering school supplies, stop and think about what you want your kids to remember and how you want them to grow.
Start there—write down those hopes and dreams. Set some goals and post them where you can see them often and be reminded of your deeper purpose.

Then, look for opportunities all year long to pursue that deeper purpose.

So how did I inspire my kids? I had them do the same. I encouraged and challenged them to think through the following questions:

  • What are my goals for the school year?
  • What do I hope to accomplish?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What do I find interesting?
  • What do I want to Experience?
  • What do I want to Create?

Writing down those goals and placing them somewhere where they can see them will help them succeed in reaching their dreams.
Then, be sure to laugh together, encourage one another, discover together, study together, and create together. This is what inspires memories that will bring about smiles as they look back and reflect on this adventure we call homeschooling.

Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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