The UPS truck delivered our orchard: 35 skinny saplings, wrapped in brown paper, and piled on our driveway. It didn’t look like much, but we had a field, and we had a vision, and we were fixin’ to turn those sticks into apple trees. So we sunk our shovels into the earth. If we didn’t know any better, we would have taken one look at the tiny root balls and the thin trunks and would have planted them too shallow and too closely together.
Instead, we took a look at the future – the dream that these saplings would one day have nice, thick trunks, far-reaching branches, and bushels of fruit. We planted them deeply in the ground and left several feet in between each tree for all of the growing and blooming that would happen over the years. If you visited our farm today, you’d laugh at our young orchard’s awkward disproportion of space to actual tree-stuff. But in five to ten years, when you come with your family to fill your baskets with red, ripe Fugis, you’ll be glad we planted our orchard with an eye on the future.
Hoping to homeschool for the long-haul, I’m trying to make deliberate choices now that will produce a happy homeschooling future. Knowing that I’ll be with these people day-in and day-out for years puts some fire in my belly to make sure we liked each other, enjoy learning, and are superstar forgivers.
The type of learning environment I’d like to have in the future helps me to determine which seeds to plant today. For example, because I want my homeschool to be full of joy, I must plant the seeds of joy now,while my children are young. I must learn quickly the joy of laying down my life for another person, and I must demonstrate joy even when the going gets rough, the nights get long, and the crying baby just doesn’t stop. My desire to have a joyful homeschool motivates me when I greet my toddlers in the morning with a cheerful, “Good morning, Sweetheart!” It pulls the corners of my lips upward when my little ones accidentally spill their water, their watercolors, or their watermelon. I’m counting on the fact that every time I smile, relax, rejoice, hug, laugh, forgive, sing, dance, serve, or play, I am planting seeds of joy, which will reap the fruit of joy once we begin compiling our portfolios.
Whenever I’m tempted to wear a sour expression, talk badly about another person, or indulge in depression, I think about the type of future I want for my children (not to mention myself), and I turn away from sin, and run towards Jesus. Likewise, I’m always looking for ways to encourage my little ones to be joyful, too. That ain’t easy with a little girl who has had a low pain tolerance, a high sense of justice, and a very specific fashion sense ever since she could express herself. But I’m convinced that it’s worth it! If I want a homeschool that is full of joy, I can begin planting it now.
Maybe this has you wondering what kind of homeschool God wants you to grow. Take some time to daydream about the type of learning environment you’d like to establish. Daydream about the relationship you want to have with your children years from now. Think about the type of work you want your children to accomplish. Jot down the qualities that are the most important to you, and begin planting those seeds today. This is just the right place to begin.
With our hearts set on a hopeful future, we will be able to dig deeply into our children’s lives and anticipate a fruitful harvest.
Laura invites you to explore this topic further at The Homeschool Baby, which is a new community for mothers of the littlest learners. Be encouraged in your growth, relationship, and character-training as you embrace all-things 0 – 5 years old! You can also find Laura at 10 Million Miles and read her eBook Blogger Behave: Make your blog benefit your life so you can love both!