You’ve made the decision to homeschool your children. Now, how do you determine each child’s real needs, discover their unique talents and interests, make your home a learning environment, chose the most effective teaching materials, and much more? How do you get started homeschooling?
Looking back over my homeschooling experience, there are a lot of things I wish I had known or done when I first embarked on this adventure. But I began homeschooling my eldest son almost 30 years ago, which is now considered the dinosaur age, and very little information about homeschooling was available way back then. In fact, homeschooling was illegal in many states and highly repressed in the rest. There were no such things as homeschooling teaching materials, homeschool conferences and networks, statewide homeschooling organizations, or homeschool co-ops. If you decided to educate your children at home in the early 1980′s, the few “how to” resources you could find were books by John Holt and Raymond Moore and the only teaching materials available were used public or Christian school textbooks (If you were lucky, you could nab some A-Beka materials on the black market). So I, along with other Christian parents interested in homeschooling and brave enough to try it had to become pioneers and forge our own paths.
Over the years, I wrote hundreds of articles and gave numerous workshops sharing the wisdom I accumulated on my own journey about the how, why, what, where and when of homeschooling and how it can set your children free to become the individuals God created them to be as well as transform you in the process. Many of these articles, along with the writings of other homeschool “pioneers” are compiled into the two books I SAW THE ANGEL IN THE MARBLE and I CARVED THE ANGEL FROM THE MARBLE.
Now that I’m what could be considered a “veteran” at homeschooling (and have the scars to prove it!), I have asked myself, “What would have helped me the most when I was beginning my journey to eventually homeschool three boys all the way through high school as well as help thousands of homeschooling parents around the world?”
As I pondered that question, I began to see a progression of understandings that I accumulated and incorporated in a hodge-podge way but that eventually became the foundation of all I understood and taught about successful homeschooling.
The progression goes something like this: First, know why you are homeschooling; Second, determine how homeschooling fits into your family’s unique mission and overall purpose; Third, discover who each of your children really is; Fourth, be aware of your children’s learning styles and stages of development;Fifth, find the teaching philosophy and resources that are a fit for your why, for your family’s mission and purpose, and for your children’s identities, stages of development and learning styles.
As I further explored the progression, I began writing short “guides” for each step. Here are the steps and the guides that go with each one:
STEP 1: QUESTION WHY YOU ARE DOING THIS. Right now homeschooling is a faddy thing to do, especially since the public schools have become so dysfunctional and homeschooling has become so widely accepted as their alternative. But, do you have a strong enough “Why?” to sustain yourself through the inevitable rough spots? Homeschooling is no walk in the park. It requires dedication, flexibility, a sense of humor, and a whole lot of other traits that I guarantee you will be challenged along the way. When I began homeschooling my boys, people were going to jail for educating their children at home, so homeschooling had to be more than a preference or an experiment. It had to be a conviction. And believe me, if I didn’t have a conviction about homeschooling, I would have thrown in the towel long ago. The guide, A STRONG ENOUGH WHY leads you into developing a strong enough “Why?” that you can weather any storm in your home school and that allows all the “Hows” to take care of themselves. You can get this e-book free if you sign up for our mailing list.
STEP 2: DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO FIGURE OUT YOUR FAMILY’S UNIQUE MISSION AND PURPOSE. Knowing “who” your family is and “what” it’s all about prioritizes everything you do as a family—even your homeschooling. The guide, HOW TO CREATE A FAMILY VISION STATEMENT, causes you to take a look at your family’s goals, values, uniqueness, meaning and purpose and walks you through creating a Family Mission Statement that can become a guide to the way your family operates in every area, including home schooling.
STEP 3: FIND OUT WHO YOUR CHILDREN ARE. So many parents never bother to see their children as “people” and wind up surprised to find they have little or no relationship with them when those children become adults. When asked how he could carve such beautiful sculptures, Michaelangelo is said to have replied, “I see the angel in the marble and set it free.” That’s the real essence of homeschooling—seeing the potential and innate gifting in each of your children and providing them with the resources, tools, and opportunities to help them express all that God has put in them. The guide, DISCOVERING YOUR CHILD’S DESTINY, gives you the knowledge and tools to identify who each child really is, even when you think they are just “blocks of marble.”
STEP 4: UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCES IN THE WAYS CHILDREN LEARN AND DEVELOP. One of the reasons institutionalized schooling is so harmful to children is it uses an assembly line approach, treating children like generic containers to be filled and ignoring the fact that children mature at different ages and stages and they have different ways of learning. A “one-size-fits-all” education just does not work on human beings. HOW YOUR CHILD LEARNS BEST covers learning styles and differences and helps you identify the ways each of your children learns best and SEE HOW THEY GROW gives you a deeper understanding of the mental, emotional, and moral stages of development a child goes through from birth to age 18 so that you will be able to home school each child in an age-appropriate way.
STEP 5: GATHER APPROPRIATE TEACHING RESOURCES. Once you’ve discovered the heart of your children and of your family, you can begin the process of discovering your educational philosophy, charting a course for each child, understanding the common educational approaches in home schooling, and choosing your teaching materials.
STEP 6: PREPARE FOR THE LIFE CHANGE THAT HOMESCHOOLING BRINGS. Homeschooling is a 24/7 endeavor. How will you handle all the different demands of teaching at home, being a wife and mother, managing a household, and having a “life” without burning out or driving yourself or your kids insane? The guide GET OFF THE HOME SCHOOL HAMSTER WHEEL gives many ideas for eliminating a lot of the stress, strain, and clutter that homeschooling inevitably brings.
The final guide I would recommend to all homeschooling parents, whether you are just starting out or are a veteran at it is entitled SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE HOMESCHOOLING. It’s a collection of the habits I’ve observed that successful homeschooling families develop to ensure that their home schooling efforts are effective and produce the desired results.
Our blog also shares great information about home schooling. Browse through articles on the many different facets of getting started in homeschooling.