Monday, August 06, 2012

Homeschooling: Help! Where Do I Start?!

For anyone who is just starting out, homeschooling information can be overwhelming.  You can go from knowing nothing, to knowing too much in a short amount of time.

You are confronted on two sides.....

Well-meaning family and friends who caution you against homeschool educational approaches, and other homeschool family and friends who caution you against public school educational approaches.  Everyone always remembers the failures they've met, yet fail to encourage you by all of the successes they've met.

Don't be discouraged.

I get the question all the time "Where do I start?  There is so much out there and I don't want to mess my kids up!".

First, you need to pray.  Begin your journey and search by asking the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding.  To send the right people into your path to help guide you by their experiences and knowledge.  You'll be amazed at what He can do.

Second, you need to determine what is most important to you in your child's education.  Make a list of  your choices, and then go in search of specific curriculum qualities.  Make Google your friend.  For us, our most important desire is for our children to be inundated with godly character and biblically based guides in their foundation.  We choose our curriculum based on its scriptural content.  There are numerous companies who fit into this category, and it's not too hard to find people who can give you good recommendations on each.  There are some you may know personally, blogs you follow, or simply do an internet search on reviews of specific curriculum companies.

I used this book several years ago and found it to be quite helpful in my search:

I won't lie, there is a lot of work involved.  But it's worth it.

Third, don't let yourself get caught up in public schooling at home.  It happens so easily. We are surrounded by a public school mentality, believing we have goals and tasks we must complete by a specific day and time, and by way of a specific amount of subjects, lesson plans, tests, and worksheets!  I believe this is where most of our homeschool stress comes from.  Trying desperately to live up to the public school ideals of what a schoolroom setting should be.

I encourage you to take your time.  If you are just starting out with a Kindergartner, you are blessed.  You have plenty of time to figure out your schooling style and needs.   Consider starting with a very basic lesson plan of math, and teaching your child to read.  In that time, determine your child's learning abilities and spend the next several months finding a curriculum you and your child enjoy.  Something that meets all of your needs and all of the requirements on your list.  And remember, everyone's list is going to be different.  Each family has their own level of importance.  Don't focus on the extracurricular activities or electives, or even science and history at first.  Focus on the fundamental basics, and then go from there. 

Also, don't allow your convictions to be overruled by the anti-homeschool naysayers.  Follow the Lord's leading and allow Him to make your homeschool paths straight.  And trust me, you're going to hear it all.  From crazy questions, to unsolicited advice.  Just smile and bear it.  Most people are curious, some are judgemental, most are ignorant of the facts.  Just have compassion, don't sway in your decision, and continue on.

Last, if you have the option, attend a homeschool conference, again you can Google for one in your city.  Search for a homeschool bookstore in your area, we have a very nice one here.  And there are a few companies who may make an appearance throughout the year at book displays in your area.  ABeka comes out our way and sets up in a local Motel conference room.  You have to chance to look through their curriculum, ask questions, and place an order.

I tried to be as non-overwhelming as possible, but if you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me.  I would love to help.


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