Last month I suggested that a Mission Statement would be a good thing for new homeschoolers to have. I don't know about you, but the idea of writing a mission statement overwhelms me. I'm not sure why it is stressful exactly, but it does not have to be. The whole point is to firm up your reasons why you are homeschooling and what you want to accomplish. You don't have to get it all into beautiful language. Nobody but you is ever going to see this unless you choose to share it. Knowing why you are homeschooling will help you to make conscientious choices about curricula and activities.
To my mind, a mission statement describes your over-arching purpose for your homeschool. It is a high-level description of what you hope to achieve. To come up with your mission statement, it might help to write down, as briefly as possible, all the reasons you are homeschooling. Nobody will ever see this list, it's just a way to brainstorm and organize your thoughts, so write it all out. When you look back over the list you will probably see a pattern. Perhaps you will have a lot of reasons that center on quality of education, style of education or social issues. That will help you to see what the biggest concern is for you and your children.
Once you know what the biggest area of concern is, you can think about what you will do in your home school to address that concern. Some mission statements are composed in one succinct sentence. Others are many sentences or paragraphs long. You could even draw a picture if that is how your brain works. This is your document, for your purposes, no points off for poor spelling or bad grammar. Ready, set, GO!
Maybe it would help to see some examples of homeschool mission statements. I scrounged around the internet and found a few.
"To have well rounded, happy children who possess the ability to learn whatever they want and need to succeed in the life they choose for themselves." Froguruami on Mothering.com
"To protect, nourish, and encourage my children's curiosity, imagination, and love of learning. To create and continually improve the learning environment to suit my children's interest and changing needs. To remember that learning is facilitated, not forced, and that education is about the journey, not just the destination. Tests don't teach, grades are for meat, and homework kills the journey!" Heldt123 on Mothering.com
"We are choosing to home educate [our daughter] because we believe that her natural intellectual curiosity and excitement about learning is being constrained by a public school setting that discourages her creativity and stifles her imagination. We want to encourage her to follow her natural learning instincts, but also insure that she receives a first rate academic preparation for college and her choices for careers and life. We want her to remain excited and involved in her education, an equal co-partner with her parents as she acquires excellent reading, writing and mathematic skills. We want to expose her to the natural world and encourage a love for the environment and her planet. We want her to be familiar with the history and stories of her country and her world. We want her to be aware of other lands and other peoples, speak a foreign language of her choosing, and be adequately prepared to live a fulfilling, independent life. And most importantly we want to encourage an independent thinker who is able to ask questions, find the answers and make up her own mind about her beliefs, values and actions." Betty Malone at examiner.com
Our mission statement for our home school is "To produce men and women after God's own heart." Our biggest concern is that our children grow up to love God, love their siblings, love their neighbors, and be well prepared to be productive members of society in whatever roles God calls them to. That one statement, "To produce men and women after God's own heart" means all the rest of that stuff to us. It helps us to put those important things first.
A mission statement may feel too permanent. It's not permanent at all. If you want to print it out on business cards with your phone number and give your home school a neat name, go for it. I will only laugh at you a little (yes, I do have a pack of unprinted business cards around here somewhere.) On the other hand, in a few years, or next year, you may find that things have changed, your children's needs have changed or you have a different idea of what needs to be accomplished. That is great. It's your mission statement. You can change it every month if you want, though you really won't have time to play with it that much. The idea is to give yourself some guideposts on the path to where you are going.
You might want to keep your mission statement someplace where you can reference it often, especially if it is lengthy. As I was beginning our homeschooling journey I kept a notebook where I scribbled all my research about different kinds of homeschooling, why we were homeschooling, what to do, what not to do, resources, laws, etc. On the inside of the notebook I recorded our mission statement. You could post it on your fridge, write it on a dry erase board, put it in a note on your phone or Black Berry or whatever. Find a place that you will see it when you are considering curricula and activities.
There are no wrong mission statements. Okay, that's not true. If your mission statement is, "To teach my children the art of for-profit breaking and entering," that would be a wrong mission statement. Years ago a woman and her step-daughter broke into my house and stole expired pain meds, pocket change and a CD Walkman. She told the arresting officer her step-daughter was not in school because she was "homeschooled." Hmmm, she was actually the first "homeschooler" I ever met. Thankfully none of the other homeschoolers have been anything like her.