I’m sure you’ve heard the idea of choosing a Word of the Year. If not, basically it means choosing a word that represents what it is you would like to focus on for the year. This directly relates to some sort of goal in your life. And in some cases, the word can even be turned into a phrase.
I’ve heard about this trend for a couple of years now but was a bit skeptical. I usually prefer to wait it out to see if it is something that lasts (thus verifying its usefulness). I also want to make sure something is biblical or at least doesn’t go against God’s Word before jumping into it.
But this trend not only seems to be hanging on, but I would also even venture to say that it is growing. So this year, I decided to join in. But in my typical overachiever sort of way, I’m choosing two words. One for my personal life and one for our homeschool. And in order to keep my goals in God’s framework for my life, I’ve chosen a Bible verse to go with each of these words.
Now, I could combine them both under the same word and verse. However, the way I see it, the goal I have for my life can be vastly different from that for my homeschool. This is mainly because I have to consider others’ goals as well as my own when planning for the homeschool year.
If you are curious about trying this but aren’t sure how here’s a rundown of how I did it. It’s not too late. And it just may help you achieve those goals you’ve spent time creating.
Personal Word of the Year – Intentional
The first thing I did before even thinking of potential words, is to review my past year. I looked at everything I had been through both as a mother and wife but also as an individual. This is necessary to know not only what worked but also where I struggled most.
On the whole, last year was a pretty good year. But there were some things I had not achieved by the end. On top of that, I added to my list of responsibilities.
Review of Last Year
First, I wanted to lose weight and get in better shape by eating healthier. I started learning about herbal remedies and was beginning to apply them to our daily life. But I couldn’t seem to shake the bad habits I had acquired with eating.
Because we are such a busy family and are quite isolated with no real family or friends in the area, we would often be too tired in the evenings to make a healthy meal. We often fell back on the classic and easy meal of sandwiches or casseroles made from processed goods and sometimes even take out.
I tried to implement a meal plan. But we never truly followed it. Instead, after activities were over and it was late, we’d be so tired from the long day of running around. And we needed to eat quickly so the kids wouldn’t be going to bed too late. So, sandwiches it was. Or pizza. Or something equally fast and easy.
Then, in September, I added another child to the homeschool schedule, one that would need a lot of hands-on. My second daughter would need to be taught to read and need the basics of math (and every other subject). Because she could not yet read and was just starting out, I needed to be present for every single subject we worked on. Especially the French.
And in November, I made the decision to finally launch this blog after years of wishing for it. I just jumped in with both feet and said, “Let’s do this!” But of course, this added a huge responsibility and demanded even more time. Time that I barely had enough of as it was.
My word and verse needed to take all this into consideration.
The one thing that all these struggles had in common was my attention. I needed to be physically and mentally present for each and every one. But attention wasn’t a strong enough word to help me grow.
After much deliberation (and just as much prayer), I found the word intentional. This was exactly what I needed to succeed in all aspects of my life. I need to be intentional. Above all, this reflects God’s purpose for me as well.
The definition of intentional is stated (on Dictionary.com) as:
- done with intention or purpose; intended; and
- of or relating to intention or purpose.
I then looked at Thesaurus.com to get some related words to clarify it even more for me. The first four synonyms clinched it for me. Calculated, premeditated, voluntary, willful. Let’s break it down some more.
The only way I am able to not only keep up with all my responsibilities but to also thrive on them, is to calculate the time necessary for each task. I need to give each task its own place in my daily and weekly life. Things need to be planned.
Obviously, I need to be aware of each task. I can’t just waltz through my day and hope that I’ll hit some targets accidentally. I need to think ahead to each month, each week, each day and (as stated above) plan it all out.
All my responsibilities are ones that I have chosen for myself. I choose to homeschool my children. I want to try to feed my family more healthily. Plus, I choose to start a new blog and to try to make it as successful as possible. I could just put my kids in school and then focus on my blog while they are gone. Which would also give me time to plan and make better meals. But I want to teach them at home. I think it is important that their education includes more than public schools can offer. And I feel God has called me to do so.
I volunteered for each and every task on my list. So I have the drive to succeed at them all. Which brings me to the last word:
Because these are all my choices and I truly want to do them all, I have the necessary will to see it done. I have already made the hard decisions to add more to my day. Now I just need to see it through.
All these words and ideas can be tied up in one word: intentional. I need to voluntarily plan each day in a calculated and premeditated manner. And then willfully execute those plans. I need to be intentional to get it all done. My only caveat is that even though I am being more intentional in the choices I make this year, ultimately my success depends on God. So the Bible verse I’ve chosen to reflect these two things is from Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” (KJV)
Homeschool Word of the Year – Consistent
This time, when looking for the word I would focus on for our homeschool, I looked back at the previous two years. Basically, I went back to the beginning to see what worked and what didn’t.
And what I found is that every time we got off track or didn’t complete something or struggled through a schedule, it was because we were not remaining consistent. We worked hard one week, then took off the next one. We let our attention get diverted to other interests and fun projects. In fact, we did not follow the schedules that I had so meticulously planned at the beginning of each school year, term, month and week.
Though I consider myself a Charlotte Mason homeschooler and am drawn to the classical methods of education, in practice, I am much more of an unschooler. I love the freedom of going where our minds take us. I love following a whim and I know that my kids do this as well.
A lot of this comes from having a first child who was high needs. I had to learn to let go of schedules and just spend time getting to know her and respond as she needed. Once I saw the value of attachment parenting, I used this same process with each successive child. Even though none of them demanded quite as the first had, I had gotten into a rhythm of following the child.
This has bled over into our homeschooling. I prefer working at the child’s individual rhythm, not some preordained schedule of what they should be doing and when. Since this is especially difficult to do in France with our yearly inspections, I looked for (and found) a method that did this as much as possible. But the daily work was suffering because we had gotten into the bad habit of following our impulses without tempering it with the discipline and control needed in growing children (and adults).
And one big aspect of this discipline and control is consistency. Creating a schedule or program and sticking to it (as much as possible).
The definition of consistent is:
- agreeing or accordant; compatible; not self-contradictory;
- constantly adhering to the same principles;
- holding firmly together; cohering; and
- fixed, firm.
These all sounded like something our homeschool was lacking. But, again, what really decided me were the first 5 synonyms: dependable, logical, persistent, rational, and steady.
We were not dependable. If I told someone to come to join us for a class at 10:00 Monday morning, there was no guarantee we would be actually in the class. (This is an exaggeration. Of course, if I told someone to come, I’d be there. I’m not that flighty.) But our homeschool was not dependable. The kids were not learning that school was happening when it was scheduled, rain or shine. They were instead learning they could get out doing their work if they presented a more enjoyable learning activity. This is not what I wanted them to be learning.
How could I be such a fan of Charlotte Mason’s methods but completely disregard the training of habits? It was illogical to be a classical educator with such inconsistent routines.
And when we started struggling to stay on track, instead of being persistent, we gave in. We followed our base desires to take the easy course and put the books away for more enjoyable things. Again, I didn’t want this for myself. But much more, I didn’t want my kids growing up to follow their every instinct. That has never worked for anyone and would only lead to trouble and heartache down the road.
More importantly, it would most likely lead them away from God since we are commanded to be disciplined in our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us quite clearly that we are to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (KJV)
This ties in with being logical. It was irrational to choose a Christian life, a homeschool life, that professed to follow the Bible and the methods or Charlotte Mason but at the same time, choose to follow our own “rhythms” before everything else.
And this is really where I want us to be. Steady. Unwavering. Not just in our studies but in our faith. In order to teach my children to be steadfast in their faith, they need to learn to be steady in other parts of their life as well. It needs to become an ingrained habit. As we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (KJV)
These ideas all come together to create my homeschool word of the year, consistent. In order to logically and rationally follow God’s intentions for our learning, we need to be dependable, persistent and steady in the work we do. The Bible verse I’ve chosen to reflect this is Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (KJV) We have a goal and a purpose. And with consistency, persistence, and God’s will, we will achieve them.
To help you create your own Word of the Year, I’ve created a short worksheet that follows these steps to lead you to the word that best suits you. You can receive your copy on the Freebie page.