It is easy to be so focused on taking the next step that you forget to look up and make sure you are still on the right path.
Sometimes even when you plan your route and follow a map, you can end up off-course. On one vacation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we planned our route between waterfall hikes. The road was not a highway but we thought we knew where we were going. After a while we became concerned when we couldn’t find the turn we were expecting. We had a cell phone but there was no signal so we couldn’t find our exact location.
Suddenly we were facing a logging truck! Of course, the logging truck gets the right of way so we pulled as far off the road as possible since it was really only wide enough for a car and a half. We decided to retrace our steps and take the long way around to our destination. When we finally had cell signal again, we saw that we had been less than half a mile from the turn that would have led us out to the highway. We couldn’t see the big picture of the map and didn’t know how close we were to the road.
Some dangers of not seeing the big picture
It is important to take a step back and see the whole landscape before you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Will your current path lead to your intended destination?
- Does the road you are traveling drop off and not continue to your destination?
- Is your pace sustainable?
- Are there too many obstacles in the way to continue?
Examples of not seeing the big picture
Seeing the big picture applies to many aspects of life—parenting, scheduling, work projects, and home improvement projects, just to name a few. It also applies to homeschooling. It can be easy to focus on checking the boxes of your lesson to-do list and forget the real goal.
Here are some examples from my life when I didn’t take a step back and see the bigger picture soon enough.
- My daughter’s fine motor skills had matured faster than I anticipated and she needed smaller ruled paper to do her best handwriting. (Actually, this happened with both daughters so apparently I didn’t learn from the past on this one!)
- When one daughter was struggling with reading, we needed to switch approaches. While I recognized that we needed to change, it was a challenge to step back far enough to see what the change needed to be. I had to talk with a mentor and critically evaluate why she was struggling to see that we needed to focus on some fundamental skills before proceeding.
- I have to continually remind myself to plan my time and not simply schedule activities. It is easy to add events to my calendar. It is much more difficult to take them off.
Tips for keeping the big picture in view
Have a plan
Your course will change along the way, but if you don’t have a plan you won’t know your overall goals and where you are headed. Start your school year with a planning session to establish your overall goals and evaluate your schedule.
Step back and re-evaluate
Take time to evaluate:
- your curriculum
- each student’s academic progress
- each family member’s emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being
- your schedule
Do you need to make any changes? If you continue with your current course of study and schedule, will you end up where you want to be? A good time to do this would be after term examinations.