Sunday, December 30, 2012

How to Start Homeschooling

Steps to Start Homeschooling

1.  Determine your reasons for homeschooling.

Don't be tempted to skip this step.  This more than anything will help direct your course.  There are many reasons to homeschool:  to exercise religious freedoms and answer a God given call, to pursue academic excellence, to nurture a special skill or talent for an individual child, to remediate skills or overcome learning challenges, to  transmit family values, to protect from bullying or dangerous situations at school, etc.  These are just a few of the reasons families choose to homeschool and many do so for a combination of many of these reasons.

2.  Decide what learning style works best for your family.

The next step is to figure out what kind of learners you are.  This includes the parent.  You want to be able to choose curriculum that is a good fit, making learning more enjoyable and efficient, but if the kids balk when the books come out, or you as a parent dread getting started everyday, chances are that the shoe is on the wrong foot.  Sometimes a switch in expectations and approaches can help restore learning to the adventure it was meant to be.

3.  Purchase curriculum to help you along the way.

A mentor of mine used to say that all you really need to homeschool is a math textbook and a library card.  The longer I homeschool, the more I tend to agree. There is just nothing that can replace a God given curiosity on fire.  But I have been grateful for the many texts that have walked me through uncharted territory and periods when I have been a little sloppy along the way.  In my personal experience, God's Presence in our day has been the biggest inspiration, hands down and you can read more about that on my blog.  We still use lots of different curriculum as well.  And we have wasted lots of money on curriculum that just did not work for us.  Do your research and enjoy this part of the preparation.

4.  Find some groups to link up with to help you on your journey.

Another mentor of mine compared homeschooling co-ops to a wagon train.  She said you surely could have traveled across the open wilderness solo, but why would you when you could have benefited from the support, encouragement and protection of the train that circled at night around a warm fire.  There are so many homeschool groups these days, that even in the boonies many extol the virtues of the homeschool group.  Check and google for groups in your area.  Each one has its own focus and flavor, so you may have to kiss a few toads before you eventually find the group for you, but the rewards of having friends for yourself and your children will be worth it.  Friends, field trips, fellowship, park days, specialized classes all await you.

5.  Get your children excited!

The last step before you start is to get your children excited about this new adventure!  There are lots of fun things that are a part of homeschooling like field trips, library trips, and being able to choose your own subjects to study.  Is your child interested in robotics?  Gardening?  4-H?  Martial Arts?  You have lots of latitude in planning your electives and your days.  The more your schedule reflects your family's priorities, values and interests, the more everyone will enjoy the journey together.

Ring In The New

11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.  (Isaiah 58:11)

Today in Church the Pastor talked about prioritizing for the new year.  Whoa, I am so caught up in getting the decorations down, catching up on laundry, and getting the boys gifts put away and organized---and this is all just in the planning stages, mind you, that I have yet to do any serious reflection and vision casting for the new year.

To be honest, this year has been so full of challenges, that I just want to celebrate making it through!  And it has been even more full of miracles, blessings and rewards, that I just want to savor and let sink in deep.

But when he said that as he looked back over his year, there had been a lot of busyness, but not a lot of things that he felt he truly accomplished, he had my attention.  I used to thrive on busyness and wear it as a badge of pride.  How much I could accomplish in a day would dictate how successful I felt.  Now, however, as a mom, I have come to believe that God is showing me some of the most important stuff I am accomplishing is still laying beneath the soil.  Seeds ready to spring to life at His perfect time.  I can only trust Him and walk in faithfulness knowing that if I make Him my priority, then the details will fall into line.

That is hard for me.  A lot of my prayers contain phrases like, "Am I hearing your right?  Is this really what You want me to do?  Am I going the wrong way with this?"  That is an aweful lot of "I" right there.  How about, "He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will  not slumber..."  (Psalm 121:3)  If I ask Him which way is the right way to go, whether to the right or the left, then I need to trust that He is able to get it through to me.

Thank you Pastor for the reminder.  I really needed to get my priorities in line.  I needed the reminder about busyness as "sign up for stuff season begins".  I needed to think about what has lasting value.

I needed a verse for this year.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."  (Matthew 6:33)