Is a "Word of the Year" Useful for Homeschoolers?

Veteran homeschoolers talk about the importance of planning to a successful school year. Even more casual “unschoolers” realize that some sort of schedule or at least loose plan helps to create a feeling of completion at the end of the day. It’s not necessary to get legalistic about it, of course, but most people do enjoy being able to cross items off their to-do list. Planning can take the shape of various formats, however, from more big-picture essentials like setting goals or vision-casting, to more specific day-to-day learning functions like drafting scope and sequences for specific subjects or making daily schedules.

I discovered another tool a few years ago that has since seemed to go through its own ebb and flow of popularity. It’s not a planning technique per se, but it does have applications to that end. And although you might not implement it yourself (yet), you may be familiar with the term.

It’s called a Word of the Year.

What exactly is a Word of the Year?

A Word of the Year is a word or phrase that serves as a filter or lens through which you look at and choose activities, books, curricula, field trips, and, well, most everything. Basically, you can use is it as you’d like, how ever it best serves you.

Cons to having a Word of the Year

This isn’t for everybody. Some drawbacks to the idea include:

  1. It’s too vague – This is a concept, not something that you buy or use on a day-to-day basis. So some people may find they forget about it, much like they do those New Year’s Resolutions of old. On the other hand, some may find…
  2. It’s too restrictive – Depending on the word you choose, this may happen. I’ve read blog posts outlining some people’s thoughts on this perspective, but honestly, I don’t really get it. Keep reading and you can decide for yourself. But I have seen it as a ‘con’, so I’m including it here.
  3. It’s just another thing to do – Yes, I understand this one! When you have young ones toddling around the house, others to more formally educate, a house to run, a husband who needs you, and then you throw in perhaps an aging parent to help or perhaps a small business to run or job to attend to… Yep, it’s sometimes all you can do to just get through the day.

Pros to having a Word of the Year

But there are also benefits to implementing this concept, which include:

  1. It helps you make decisions – A lens allows you to develop a sense of discernment and judgment to help you filter activities and events and opportunities that come up, so you can take part only in what’s best for you and your family.
  2. It’s inspirational – There’s something about having a particular word or phrase floating about in your consciousness that brings a smile to your face and makes you more confident about the decisions you make.
  3. It’s great for those “artsy” types – Oh, you can certainly incorporate this into your life in a variety of creative ways. See below.

So…is a Word of the Year practical or useful for homeschoolers?

Coming up with one of these takes time. At the very least, if you’re going to do this, you should be putting in some amount of intentional thought into it beforehand. Even better, engage your spouse and children in some amount of discussion. As I mentioned earlier, this may not be for everyone, but let me share some of my own experience with it.

The first year I did this, my word was “Foundation”, so the activities I chose for our homeschool revolved around character formation, developing self-discipline, basic life skills, and chores, etc. Related to my blog/business, I also kept activities focused on establishing routines that would be helpful for growth. As the years progressed, I can’t tell you how exciting it was when people and opportunities popped up that SO fit my Word. More than once God used it to confirm for me that I was on the right path. Over time, I’ve taken my Word and brought it over to Canva. Screen savers, business cards (print a few up yourself to tuck into your purse, in the car, on your mirror, etc.), printables, and other graphics helped keep the concept in front of my eyes throughout the year.

The ‘bottom line’ on a Word of the Year

I’m not one for useless busy work, not am I for piling up ‘mommy guilt’ or telling anybody what they should do. You can decide for yourself.

Don’t try a “Word of the Year” if you’re stressed out about it, confused about it, feel like it’s unnecessary to your homeschool and you don’t feel you can handle one. more. thing.

Give it a shot if the concept excites you, you feel led and somehow inspired by the thought, and you’re thinking “Hey, it couldn’t hurt, right?”

And if you do try it, shoot me a line and let me know how it works for you. I’m working on my Word for next year right now!

About Pat Fenner

Attempting for many years to nail Jello to the wall, Pat Fenner has been managing to keep up with her brood of 5, celebrate her 20th year of homeschooling, maintain some sort of domestic order, and blog at PatandCandy.com. Someday she'll have time to pursue hobbies such as reading, gardening and cooking more than spaghetti, but until then, she'll just keep on hangin' in there... Join them over a cup of coffee and sign up to get useful and creative parenting and homeschooling “members-only” helps.

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Our themed mini-magazine filled with that little extra pop of inspiration to keep summer learning going. You’ll discover fun tips for sneaking in summer learning, ideas for inexpensive science, and a summer wellness series for families.


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