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We tend to have a lot of philosophical military conversations around here.

Things like the ethics and value of counterinsurgency (See Consider This by Karen Glass to know why we got off on that tangent one day.)

So recently I asked the husband (long-time National Guard officer) what he thought about this quote from Dwight Eisenhower

Plans are useless, but planning is everything.

Which lead to a fascinating (mostly) and long (sigh) look at military battle plans and how to follow them. And it was amazingly similar to how you might plan and execute a homeschool year, really.

Though I would argue that homeschooling is not nearly as life-threatening — no matter what our pesky inlaws might have us to believe.

Homeschool Planning for Success

What Eisenhower was talking about here is that the process of planning and preparing for all the options gives you an entire collection of possibilities — things you are prepared to do, things you could do if the opportunity arises.

Or as Brandy Vencel put it.

If you have ideals, you end up closer to the target than if you don’t have them

The hubby explained, though, that the enemy always has a say in the way the battle unfolds. Once you begin to execute, conditions on the ground will always direct what you are doing.

Enemies in homeschooling? Aren’t you being a little dramatic, Pam? Think of the enemies as sickness, vital outside obligations, cross-country (or even cross-town) moves, the attitude of your 11 year-old-boy — you get the point.

Mother homeschooling sonPin

All of those things are antagonists to our homeschool plan. As a good leader, we need to dodge, feint, and adjust when we come up against those obstacles.

Bad leaders continue to blindly try to follow the plan that is obviously no longer relevant. To win the war we have to be willing to regroup — no pushing through to peril as it were.

But here is the deal. When the battle is over there was never a general who said, “Well, we didn’t do everything we had planned so even though we had a great battle all that planning was useless.”

Sounds kind of silly doesn’t it? Yet homeschool moms do it all the time.

Do we have realistic homeschool planning expectations?

I think we need a new way of judging our homeschool plan that does not include checking everything off the list. List checking, which I generally love, helps me measure progression, not success

When the value of our homeschool is in relationships, truth, goodness, beauty, ideas, and a love of learning — it seems that measuring success without taking into account daily emotional needs, sudden interests, the need for character training, or the draw of an exciting new read aloud is clearly missing the mark of our reasons for homeschooling in the first place.

It seems a lot like the public school down the road that wrongly measures success with test scores and scholarship dollar amounts.


Homeschooling boy takes online classPin

Let me share a story a reader shared with me this year. Alicia Brookins’ family was one of the hundreds of thousands displaced by Hurricane Michael last fall.

In fact when I emailed Alicia this week to ask if I could share her story she told me that she is still not back in her home ten months later. Here is what she said:

Pam, I can guarantee that working through your program and your posts about lesson plan lists are the ONLY ways we have been able to accomplish even the most minimal of school since the hurricane. If I had had to take the time to figure out what we needed to do, I can promise it would not have happened. I did not (hmm, do not) have the brain cells available to come up with lessons for my children right now. Returning to schooling was a huge part of restoring “normal” for my children, and I thank you so very much for all that I’ve learned from you during these past couple years as well. While the year looks absolutely nothing like what I planned for it to look like, the act of having spent the time over the summer working through your program has absolutely saved our school year.
Bold parts mine for emphasis. In no way did Alicia get to follow the plan she made last summer, but she was still counting the time she spent planning as valuable.

How to measure the effectiveness of our homeschool plan

So if we are not using perfectly following the plan as a measure of success, what should we use?

I am so glad you asked. I will be back next week with seven ways we can measure the success of our homeschool planning other than completing the plan. I hope you check it out.

Get the program that reduces overwhelm and brings rest to your homeschool year.