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One Thing

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                        One thing have I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after…(Ps. 27:4a)

 

In this crowded 21st century life, it’s hard to zero in on one thing to ask of the Lord. As a home educator, many things vie for attention: children, spouse, house, activities of all kinds, not the least of which is teaching-and-learning and all that involves. All are necessary and good, yet each one fractures the ability to focus on one thing.

In addition, some—including me—have a predisposition toward attention deficits. I fall somewhere along the ADD curve where even a smidgen of an attention problem goes a long way to upending a one-thing focus.

Intellectually, I know the ability to laser-focus on one project, task, or topic at a time produces exceptional results. Every time. It works well for my good friend and fellow educator Dolores. She has written and published four books in the past two years; I’m still working on my first! She swears by a one-thing approach and constantly chides me for extolling the virtues of multi-tasking. Deep down, I know she’s right.

Gary Keller would also agree with her. Co-founder of the international real estate firm, Keller Williams, Inc., Keller has experienced repeated and exceptional success based on this premise. In his best seller The ONE Thing, Keller posits that the best way to succeed in any life endeavor is to narrow concentration to one thing at a time. He recommends putting blinders around anything else until the one thing is completed and then, and only then, move to the next.

Keller developed his ONE thing philosophy based on his own business-world experience. Home educators can glean much from adopting not only Keller’s business thinking and practices into their classrooms but also the thinking and practices of other business thought-leaders.

I have found two business practices personally helpful in my home- and professional-education careers: the business plan and a professional mindset. First, I created a Murphy Homeschool (and Bike Shop) Business Plan (HBP) my first year homeschooling. (Bike shop because that’s what my son named it. The bike shop never materialized.) Then, I began to view myself as a professional educator, not a “homeschool mom” or “teacher,” and acted like one.

Okay. Don’t laugh! I really wrote a homeschool business plan! It was what I knew from pre-motherhood business and MBA experiences. It wasn’t bad or a waste of time. It forced me to consider all aspects of this venture even if some of what I envisioned was unrealistic. I learned that later through experience.

As I look back, the effort it took to think through what I hoped and prayed my school would look like and plug it into a quasi-business plan, guided the early development of my homeschool and later SailAway Academy. Furthermore, the same business-like approach it took to create this business plan for a homeschool buoyed its continuity over time. I knew where I was going (generally) and what I was doing (most of the time).

Hmmm? Could this HBP qualify as ONE thing? Perhaps. Maybe I’m not as hopeless and hapless at being ONE-thing focused as I thought!

In addition to the Homeschool Business Plan, I thought of myself as a “professional” and intentionally established myself as such. This determined (most of the time, but not always!) mindset put me on an emotionally conscious and equal par with other professionals like doctors, lawyers, architects, and accountants. It boosted my personal esteem and governed the way I interacted with others. It upped my self-respect and seemed to engender respect in unexpected ways within my family and in social situations.

However, I’ve met many full-time, capable home educators who are equally true professionals and deserve the same respect and personal satisfaction for the hard work they invest in their children. Yet, they (you?) often feel demeaned or less than. When asked, “What do you do?” meaning “What do you do for a living?” they often lower their head, shrug, and reply, “I’m only a homeschool mom.”

Only! Homeschool moms (and dads) should consider themselves as a true, full-time professional and act like one. That mission has become a cause célèbre for me. You are NOT just a homeschool parent (or guardian); you are a professional educator. You become a professional by acting like one in ways other than working at it full-time.

True professionals know they must sacrifice time, sleep, and finances to acquire and keep the requisite understanding and knowledge to stay abreast of new information and trends in their field. Therefore, like other professionals who are required to participate in continuing education to maintain licensure or a position, it is equally important for home educators to invest in themselves to do the same.

In my work with home educators, I (strongly) encourage them to pursue their home teaching-and-learning practice with the same mindset as other professionals pursue theirs. After all, the teacher, the educator, is the most important key to a student’s ultimate success and achievement academically and socially.

That’s you.

So, let me pose a question: Is investing in yourself to become a thoroughly professional educator that ONE thing to seek after? The ONE thing that trumps everything else to achieve success in teaching-and-learning with your children?

I’ll answer for you.

NO, it’s not. It’s probably the second thing. After all, you are reading a blog about homeschooling.

The ONE thing, the truly vital ONE thing to seek after is to be with God where He is. The ONE thing at the beginning of this blog that the writer of the 27th Psalm unequivocally desires more than anything is to “dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of [his] life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and inquire in His temple.”

When you’re there and I’m there, the LORD will undoubtedly establish a second ONE thing that allows you and your family to “look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13).

Would you share with me what He reveals is the second ONE thing for you at DrBrenda@sailawaylearning.com?

When you do, I’ll share what He reveals to me in return. I’ll be waiting.

 

Educational psychologist Dr. Brenda Murphy lives out her mission to Serve All In Love by sharing her deep knowledge of the art and science of teaching through professional development, personal consultation, and mentorship. She encourages all teachers, parents, and students to experience new possibilities through her belief that they each possess undiscovered gifts and talents. Find out more about Dr. Brenda and how she helps parents like you at www.sailawaylearning.com.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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