Homeschooling: Before You Begin…..

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Here are THREE  of our BIGGEST reasons for Homeschooling!

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the journey into the homeschooling world. This may seem like a daunting task at first so let me reassure you that once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, one of the biggest tasks is already out of the way! Now let’s explore a few other items of business that will help you be all ready for the first day of school….at home!

Although not completely essential to a successful school year, I feel it is important to record one’s “Whys” for making a decision. In other words, why did you choose to homeschool? I recorded my “Whys” in my journal, but you could just as easily type it up, write it up, or note it down. This simply helps you to stay focused on your purpose for homeschooling and helps convince you again when you’re just having “one of THOSE days”. If you like, or if it helps you, post your own “Whys” up where you see it often and can be reminded of the bigger picture.

After the “Whys” there is always a “What”. Now, “WHAT are you going to do about it?” The first thing to do is to brainstorm (again, best if we write it down for future reminders) on the questions, “What is an education?” or “What is your educational philosophy?” Make a list or write up what YOU (and your spouse) think is the “best” way for your family to learn. Maybe you can label it with a term such as “Classical”, “Unschooling”, “Eclectic”, etc. Or maybe you’ll end up like our family, where you have some ideas but you know your “way” will evolve and you’ll end up with your own “label”. Think about what subjects YOU think are important for your children to learn, as well as what subjects they enjoy or have a talent in.

The next question to ask yourself would be “What do I want them to learn?” Another way to put it is “What is your goal?” Homeschooling is more than just learning 1+1=2 and how to read. Homeschooling is a lifestyle; it encompasses every aspect of life. So you’ll want to consider “What kind of people do I want my children to be?” as well as specific subject courses you think are important. Now, of course, any teaching and training given does not guarantee your desired result, but thankfully the Lord is in charge and if we seek His will and strive our best we are assured that our diligence will be rewarded in the end (Proverbs 22:6).

Finally we come to the “How” of homeschooling. We know why we are doing it and what we want to accomplish…now, exactly “How in the world am I going to do this?” This is curriculum choice time. Curriculum choices are many and there is at least one out there for every type of “School” of learning. YOUR choice will best be made after you’ve considered carefully the above questions of “Why” and “What” as well as pondering over the specific needs, desires, abilities and perhaps even struggles that each teacher and student in YOUR school will be facing. You’ll want to consider especially your parenting style and discipline techniques as this will play an important role in the way you conduct YOUR school.

This is a very individual decision and I know for myself the task was so intimidating at first that I simply went to making up my own curriculum. As more children and responsibilities came along however I realized that to keep a balanced life I would need to make some choices. So at this point I’ve chosen a Phonics/Reading Program, a Math Program, and a History text that I pick and choose from and supplement with what I feel OUR school needs are. The other subjects ( Science, Geography, Art, Music, Etc) I still create myself but I feel as the years go by I will most likely switch over to pre-written curricula for them as well.

Another “How” that will be particularly helpful is to make a schedule. When will you do your schooling… morning, afternoon, evening, or a combination? Will you do Monday through Friday, just a 3-4 day week or only on weekends? Or will you have more of a “rhythm” that you follow according to the children’s needs and desires? How often will you have vacations, breaks, and field trips? Will you do reading and math every day and choose one day for each of the other subjects or will you work on one subject at a time or will you go with what the child(ren) like(s) the best? Also, as mentioned before, since this a lifestyle you’re choosing, you may want to consider scheduling your cleaning, cooking, secretarial work, errands, appointments, extracurricular and church activities, other service commitments, and any other obligations or responsibilities into your plan so that you will feel more confident and being able to accomplish all of your tasks and goals in general. Remember that you don’t want to over schedule yourself or the children either…weigh the pros and cons and consider your “Whys” and priorities…then learn this very helpful phrase, “I would love to do that, but not right now.”

The last of the “How” category would be to organize yourself. Get all of your school materials together and find the best way for YOUR family to create order. Will you have a separate school room or will your dining room or family room double as a school room? Or will your method use the entire house? Will you keep all of the books and materials you will use for school in one room/place or will you have art activities in a more “mess friendly” area like a cupboard in the kitchen, and all school books/curriculum materials in a “cleaner” area, such as the room you will be doing most of your learning in. Even if you are doing something more laid back and “child-led” like “Unschooling”, I would still suggest that in order to make things run more smoothly, that one consider the materials the children will be using and make them easily accessible and as “kid-friendly” as possible so that there is less mess and frustration and more learning taking place.

Homeschooling is a journey, one that grows and evolves. You may, like I did, start out with a certain idea about education, and then as you get into the process realize that the needs of your students will not be met and their potential not grasped with that idea. Do not feel bad or that you’re a failure if you find that half-way through, you need to switch curricula or revamp your teaching methods or that you will need more or less breaks. People grow and change so it only makes since that our way of educating would do the same. The most important thing is to remember Why you are doing this and that you are not alone in the journey. Enjoy!

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