Whether you are new to the homeschool world, or feeling a little burned out, I hope that there will be some nuggets here that will help equip, inspire, encourage, or remind you why you chose to homeschool.
My dear husband of 20 years and I went from being "anti-homeschool" to being in a position where we could not imagine living a lifestyle that does not include homeschooling our two boys. Here is our story and a few things we have learned along the way...
David and I were not raised in Christian homes and the idea of homeschool was foreign to us. As a young married couple, pre-kids, we had only two examples of homeschool families that we experienced. One family lived an extremely alternative lifestyle to ours; one that we had a hard time relating to. The other family pulled their child out of public school because the child was struggling. In our extremely limited scope at the time, we felt this was negative because the child could not "handle" the traditional school setting.
When I was pregnant with our first child, we planned on moving from an apartment into our first home. I spent hours, HOURS, researching different school districts in the Seattle and Eastside cities and towns.
We fully intended on immersing our kids in the best school district we could afford, but God had other plans for our family.
Arriving home from the hospital with our beautiful, amazing, perfect ( aren't they all? :)) son, I held him in my arms, and gently swaying, whispered to him, "what am I going to do with you all day?"
This is when I went online, researching different activities that would keep my baby mentally stimulated and entertained. I kept coming across websites that were targeting homeschool families. I kept dismissing them, because we weren't a homeschool family...
But, some of those websites held my interest enough for me to read a snippet here and there. Soon, I discovered that homeschool was not, necessarily, "reactive", but that there was a whole world of parents proactively choosing to homeschool their kids.
God captured my interest, and slowly, began capturing my heart, for homeschool. One website lead to another, and another, and I began wondering if this was something the Lord wanted us to do. I began reading voraciously, different online resources.
I asked my husband if he would ever consider homeschooling, and his response was an emphatic 'NO'!
When our oldest was six months old, we were blessed with another pregnancy, and all homeschool curiosity went out the window. With two little ones, ages 15 months apart, we spent the next two years wading through diapers, bottles, car seats, and a double stroller.
When Preschool rolled around, we had to decide what to do. By this time, God had really seized my heart and I knew this was where He wanted us, but I also knew David was against it. I started to pray, "Lord, either change my heart or change his."
I asked David if he'd consider letting me homeschool through Preschool. He agreed...only through Preschool. The reasons for approval:
- Preschool is expensive and with two kids in Preschool, we would have had to make budget adjustments and sacrifice certain hobbies and other nice amenities we had come to enjoy.
- We like to travel, and with the perk of my husband being able to work from anywhere, adhering to a school schedule would limit the flexibility to travel.
- Really, how much could I mess up our kids in PreK?
- complete 45 credits in college
- meet with the school superintendent and have them approve you
- meet regularly with a teacher and have them approve your lesson plans
- take a college sanctioned homeschool course
- Myth- Only trained educators can teach. Truth- Lack of self-confidence is a byproduct of secular schooling which leads to a lack of confidence in God who created us and demands we teach our children.
- Myth- More of everything is better. Truth- Too much contributes to burnout. Create a family surrounding in a simple atmosphere.
- Myth- The family cannot provide opportunities necessary for a child's education. Truth- Every resource in a school is available to a family. Even more is available to a family via apprenticeship, mentors, following a child's interest vs. a class of 30.
- Myth- Some parents just can't teach. Truth- This contradicts God's action of giving the child to you! It is his command that you, "train him up".
- Myth- Home education is not for everybody. Truth- God commands us to. Do not cop out. (Side note: This seemed a little harsh to me. I personally believe that you need a conviction and a desire to homeschool.)
- Myth- Homeschool creates hardships on the parents. Truth- Only if you try to copy the public school. The home needs to be structured by a Godly pattern.
- Myth- Children need socialization. (This is the one that gets many seasoned homeschool moms' eyes a-rolling...) Truth- Children do not develop good character from each other. Good character is developed in a child by learning God's way and by learning to obey Him. There is a higher risk of negative socialization (self esteem, conforming to peers/group think) in a school setting.
- Myth-Homeschool kids will not fit into tomorrow's world. Truth- Who's world? "The State" or God's?
- High degree of appreciation for each other
- Spend a lot of time together
- Good communication patterns
- Strong sense of commitment to each other (ex. we watched a 'Supernanny' episode that had three or four brothers. The Supernanny instilled in the boys that they were "brothers for life" and that their brothers took priority over friends. This is something we strive to instill in our boys).
- Religious orientation
- Deals with crisis positively
- List child's strengths and weaknesses
- Figure out what you are going to do to strengthen the weak areas and encourage the strengths
- With your spouse, discuss short term and long term goals for your kids.
- Develop strategies for parenting
- Find out what God says about children and His requirement for them
- Focus correction upon attitude of the heart rather than behavior
Karl Reed, author of "Home Education Myths", said:
"I guess it is very strange that the educational systems that taught most of today's parents would so question the results of their own products."
- The significance of parents. Subjectively, you are the most important person in the world to your child. You have greater credibility with him. Public/private schooling risks teacher emulation. There is no way over who your child spends their days with or what their teacher is teaching them.
- Moral purity. With public/private schools, you have no control over the values instilled in your children. Homeschool allows you to choose a curriculum that reinforces your faith and presents it attractively.
- Individual instruction. Homeschooling provides a higher level of individual attention, which provides a better foundation for teaching and learning.
- Feeling of security. Children feel most secure at home. It is in this security, he will venture to take risks and try new skills.
- Healthy socialization. When children spend ample time with their parents and siblings in a warm and loving atmosphere, they usually learn to enjoy being with all age groups, including their own. By watching and imitating others, they learn politeness, and they learn to express themselves confidently with good conversational skills. When children spend more time with their age-mates than they do with their parents, they become oriented toward their peers. They will feel pressured to please their peers. Peer groups form and create their own identity (dress, vocabulary, habits, gestures). What happens when values of the peer group conflict with those of the family? The child will have to choose between the two. Some parents fear that a child who isn't exposed to the "real world" while he is young, won't be able to cope with it later. But don't worry; the real world has a way of getting into everyone's life. Nobody is better off being exposed to evil, in whatever form, and that's especially true for children who are struggling through their formative years. What they need in order to cope with the "real world" is not a detailed knowledge of evil, but an experience of the value of a strong and Godly character. The home is much better suited to providing that experience than any school.
- Flexibility. In school, teaching is confined to the classroom setting and the prescribed hours of attendance. In the home, there are constant learning opportunities. The homeschool program can be tailored to the student's needs and interests.
- Household chore time
- Table time (Seat work for homeschool)
- Family reading time
- Productive free time
- Paid job time
- Family work, play, and together time