When we welcome someone into our home for the first time, one of the first questions my husband and I receive is about the two jars of marbles we have on display. We use this question as a chance to share why we’re passionate about intentional parenting and how it relates to us as a homeschool family.
You see, we have a jar for our ten year-old son and one for our five year-old daughter. His jar is one third of the way full, hers half full. Each jar started with nearly a thousand marbles but the number of marbles in each jar is shrinking quickly. That’s because we remove a marble from each jar every Monday to remind us to make the most of the moments we have with our children.
I wish I could take credit for the idea, but we bought our marble kits from a church curriculum supplier. The thought behind the jars of marbles is that a visual reminder of time will inspire parents to make the most of the the time remaining before children reach adulthood.
Making the most of the time remaining sounds nice, but it’s not always easy to implement considering the breakneck pace that has become the standard in society. Thankfully, as homeschool families, we don’t have to live that way. Instead, we can approach our days through the lens of intentional parenting and take advantage of the time given to us through the homeschool lifestyle.
How to Embrace Intentional Parenting Through Homeschooling
Lead by Example
Intentional parenting isn’t about being perfect and getting it right all the time. Intentional parenting – at its core – is leading by example. That said, there must be an awareness of the example we provide.
Our children experience this daily as we teach, provide for, and nurture them. They watch how we respond to the world around us. They learn how to treat their friends and neighbors by watching how we treat ours. More than that, they learn how to love – or not love – difficult people by how well we love the difficult people in our lives.
Like it or not, leading by example happens by default due to the homeschool lifestyle. Our good and bad is on display more often than not. When we fail, honesty and admission go a long way in leading our kids. After all, homeschool moms need grace and forgiveness like everyone else.
Look for Teaching Moments
A normal homeschool day is loaded with teaching moments. That sounds like an obvious statement, but the kind of teaching moments that stem from intentional parenting are more about life lessons and character development than academia.
These teaching moments might occur while noticing the mistakes or heroic qualities of key figures in lessons from (affiliate link) The Mystery of History. They may come while bringing attention to overarching themes in read-alouds. They might even happen naturally in our homeschools as we navigate challenges and victories throughout our days together.
Teaching moments aren’t reserved for homeschool hours alone. Look for discussion points as you travel, run errands together, watch television, or play. If you’re mindful of these opportunities to teach character and model love, you’ll see these moments become a natural part of your family environment. You’ll also learn that they provide an easy opportunity to embrace intentional parenting.
Homeschool with the End in Mind
On the hard days, the good days, and everything in between, the key to intentional parenting is focusing on what we want our children to be. By this, I don’t mean career choices or varying degrees of financial success. This is about what kind of people we want our children to become. It’s homeschooling with the end in mind.
Your answer may be worded differently than ours, but we want our children to be difference makers and world changers. We want them to be life-giving people with hearts for God and for others. Leading by example and looking for teaching moments certainly play a role in bringing these dreams for our children to life, but this is also true of homeschooling with the end in mind.
We homeschool with the end in mind by embracing the gifts of homeschool and by taking advantage of things that set homeschooling apart from other educational options. That might look like encouraging our children to develop their unique gifts or pursuing areas of interest. It may look more like providing a relaxed homeschool setting that promotes a love of learning over academic achievement. Alternately, homeschooling with the end in mind might be more about challenging our children to dive deeper into difficult subjects and push through the hard spots in the homeschool journey.
Homeschooling with the end in mind will look different from family to family because no two children are completely alike. And, just like our children, our homeschools are at their very best when we celebrate what makes them unique and learn to use those differences to our advantage. Indeed, that’s why intentional parenting and homeschooling pair together so nicely.
In closing, remember that intentional parenting doesn’t have to be some intimidating expectation or unattainable ideal. It’s about remembering that time matters, using your influence wisely, and making the most of the moments you have with your children.