If you were to eat dinner with us on any given night, you would notice the two jars of marbles sitting atop our credenza. And if you’re like most guests we host, you would ask about those marbles and open the door for us to share about intentional parenting. Today we’re talking about our jars of marbles and, more importantly, how to bring intentional parenting and homeschooling together.
Back to the marbles: each jar started with nearly a thousand marbles but the number of marbles in each jar is quickly shrinking. 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.
Those marbles are dwindling week by week and jar by jar. It’s convicting, it’s overwhelming, and it’s a blessing. It’s all of those things, but it’s also a necessary reminder to be intentional with our time.
How to Parent Intentionally Through Homeschooling
I wish I could take credit for this visual reminder, but we bought our marbles from a church curriculum supplier named Orange. They believe that “when you see how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now.” And all of this is why we’re grateful for their Legacy Marbles and how they remind us to be intentional as parents.
But what does it look like to parent intentionally? How do we truly make the most of the time we have with our kids each day?
The opportunities to embrace intentional parenting vary from family to family, but I can say that homeschooling paves the way for it. With that said, here are three key ways to parent intentionally through homeschooling.
Lead by example.
The phrase intentional parenting can seem pretty overwhelming and intimidating when you consider all the things we juggle each day. The good news is that intentional parenting isn’t about always getting it right or aiming to adhere to some impossible standard.
Instead, it really comes down to leading by example. That said, there must be an awareness of the model we give.
Our children and teens 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 know 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 are on display more often than not. When we fail, honesty and admission go a long way in leading our kids. It demonstrates a posture of humility, along with a willingness to learn and grow when change is needed. We want that posture for ourselves and for our kids.
Look beyond the academic matter.
A normal homeschool day is loaded with teaching moments. That sounds like an obvious statement, but sometimes these teaching moments are more about life lessons and character development than academic work.
These teaching moments might occur while noticing the mistakes or heroic qualities of people in our history lessons. They may come while bringing attention to overarching themes in our read alouds. They might even happen naturally in our homeschools as we navigate challenges and victories throughout our days together. Regardless of how these teaching moments occur, they provide an easy opportunity to embrace intentional parenting.
Related: How to Survive Homeschooling As an Introverted Parent
Remember, teaching moments don’t just pop up during homeschool hours. Look for discussion points when you run errands together, watch television, read, and 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 experience.
Parent 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. Instead, I’m referring to what kind of people you want your children to become.
Your answer may be worded differently than ours, but we want our children to be difference-makers. We want them to be world changers. We want them to be life-giving people with heart for God and for others.
It’s a tall order, but the first step in helping them become those things is by speaking to them in a way that already identifies them as those things. Teach your children with the end in mind, challenge them accordingly, and the rest will come over time.
In closing, remember that intentional parenting doesn’t have to be some intimidating 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.