Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tips for New Homeschoolers!

Homeschooling is SO much more than "school at home". It is truly a lifestyle of learning that has the potential to enrich your family unit, your family relationships, your parenting, your ministry to others, your own knowledge and more! Each new day, each trip out, each vacation, each service opportunity, each moment offers something of genuine learning value. Take advantage of all the world has to offer and be on the lookout for God working in you and those around you!

- Setting up your school day

We use a checklist type schedule that I print out for each child and fill in weekly. It's gives us flexibility, keeps us on track, and helps the children know what's expected.

- Designated school rooms vs. use of all or various areas

We use the whole house. I've learned that since we've chosen a lifestyle of learning (and I love books, lol!) , it's impossible to limit it to one room or one surface :)

- Choosing curriculum

This is a learn-as-you-go process! Pray about what to get started with, but don't be afraid to ditch it if it doesn't meet your family's needs in the long run. There are SO many wonderful resources out there that there is no sense in forcing yourself to stick with something that makes you and/or the kids miserable. No matter how "good" you've heard it is, if it's not good for YOUR family - move on!

- Favorite curriculum or resources

Sonlight (reading pace is quick, so we slow it down)
Ambleside Online (we have enjoyed many books on their list)
Mystery of History
Apologia Science
God's Design for Science
Saxon Math
Homeschooling in the Woods Timeline resources

Again, there are SO many awesome resources out there. The tough part is limiting yourself and figuring out which ones will work best for you and your kids! Remember, curriculum is a tool, not your master.

- Record keeping

We use a notebook for attendance, progress reports, field trips, curriculum list, books read list, any assessments, etc.

- The best advice you ever received :o)

Forget about gaps! We cannot teach our children everything they need to know, but we can teach them HOW TO LEARN, HOW TO QUESTION, and HOW TO THINK, so that they have the skills necessary to learn whatever they need or want to learn throughout their lives. Learning doesn't end with graduation - it is a lifelong process. This short time is about building a foundation for continued learning and instilling a love of learning in our children that endures!

- Getting past the jitters and fear of jumping in

Just do it! The first year is the hardest, but each year gets better. This journey will bless your life if you let it! So. . .feel the fear, take it to God in prayer, and then jump in wholeheartedly. God blessed you with your children and He is fully capable of giving you everything you need to reach and teach them!

A few of my favorite hs quotes . . .

"After all is said and done, the condition of your child's heart will be the true measure of your success."

"One of the extra benefits of home educating is that it restores to the whole family the excitement and pleasure of learning - fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons all learning and growing together. . .God never meant for learning to become a burden, either for children or for parents. He meant it to be a natural, enjoyable part of family life."

". . .education is the natural outgrowth of the discipleship relationship between parents and children, so it should be the natural activity of every Christian home." --from Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

"The goal of parenting is not for us to decide what we want our children to become and then ruthlessly teach, train, squeeze, badger, and cajole them into that mold. Instead, we must recognize that God has already designed them. God already has a mature person and a long-range purpose in mind. Our job is to see our children as God does - to involve ourselves in God's plans for them." --from A Mother's Heart by Jean Flemming

Remember, God's plans for our children are so much bigger than ours. Take some time to write out a mission statement or journal about what you hope this change of lifestyle will mean to your family.

- Responding to concerns about socialization

There are numerous excellent articles on the web about this subject. Please take time to do a search and read as many as you need to in order to ease your concerns and/or those of your family :)

- How does Dad fit into the picture? What does support from Dad look like for your family?

Support from Dad looks like different things for different families. I feel blessed that my dh provides for us and supports me homeschooling. After a hard day's work, I don't expect him to grade papers or teach academic subjects, but he is otherwise very hands on with our children, takes them on outings so I can have planning time or personal development time, reads bedtime stories, is willing to help when asked, goes to our local hs conference with me, etc.

- Responding to that voice that questions your "qualifications"

Jay Wile has a good article that discusses some of the common concerns such as qualifications and socialization. You can read it here. . . (scroll down and click on the handout link "Homeschooling: The Solution to our Education Problem")

And again, there are more articles out there, so be sure to "google" to your heart's content!

- Best homeschooling books for Mom to read

I have many favorites, but this one tops my list. . .

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson (currently being revised and updated, due out again later this year or early 2010, but you may be able to find a used copy of the current edition via Rainbow Resource or CBD)

Ruth Beechick also offers many books that give encouragement and guidance for those who want a more relaxed approach not driven by textbooks!

- Where/how do you get support and a sense of renewal for yourself when you grow weary or begin to question?

God's Word, prayer, spouse, Yahoo Groups, friends, books, audio workshops, trips to the library, conferences, etc.

Lastly, I'll add a few "don't" tips. . .

Don't underestimate the value of networking with other homeschool Moms! Whether online or in person, the support and encouragement you will find is priceless.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Any question is a good question.

Don't try to live up to an unattainable standard of perfection.

Don't compare your children (to one another or to others).

Don't rely on your own strength.

What God has called you to, He will equip you for!
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