I sighed with relief as I put the finishing touches on my planning list for my daughter’s 7th grade coursework. It looked like we were pretty much on target for where I’d hoped we’d be in our homeschool plan. As I thumbed through my notebook, I realized in astonishment that we were halfway through our homeschooling journey—already! It seemed like we were just working on phonics and 2 + 2 = 4, and now suddenly we would be studying the intricacies of debate and the complexities of pre-algebra.

Halfway down the road. It’s been an exciting, challenging, ever-changing adventure that I had no idea would be so rich. How faithful God has been to meet our every need and to broaden my own horizons into areas I never dreamed. What an honor and a privilege to be part of this world-changing movement!

Maybe you’re at the beginning of your homeschool journey and are wondering how it is possible to do this for one year, let alone twelve. Maybe you have been at this a few years but are in one of those seasons of difficulty or discouragement that come to all of us at one time or another. When I first signed up for this trip, I was so grateful for those homeschooling pioneers and veterans who had done this before me and left a road map to follow. Now I’m a bit of a veteran, too, so from this viewpoint, I’d like to offer some encouragement that may help you on your journey. Mine is a testimony of God’s loving leadership, enabling, and attention to every detail and need—and He’ll do it for you, too.

Off to a Good Start

At first, I had never even considered homeschooling for our only daughter. You know, the socialization issue—how fair would it be for her to be stuck at home with just me for 12 years? And besides, it seemed like an impossible undertaking. But God used the steady persuasion of a dear friend who homeschooled her children to finally turn my heart. “You can do it!” she challenged me over and over again. Could I really? The clincher came when I heard about support groups and what they could provide. This was the balance I felt we would need, and timidly I ventured a toe into the water.

Wondering how to begin, I went to my first used curriculum sale. I’ll never forget the scene that met me: rows and rows of book-laden tables tended by ladies just like me—and children. Nice children. Helping their moms, laughing, polite, wholesome. Tears sprang to my eyes, and all I could think was, “If this is what homeschooled kids are like, I want to do this!” In the goody-bag handed to me at the door was a catalog for the curriculum that was to be a perfect match for my love of books and history.

Next on my list was finding a support group. I prayed for guidance, and using the directory on the state homeschooling Web site, I discovered one close to home. I was soon talking to the leader on the phone, peppering her with questions. “I know you haven’t begun homeschooling yet,” she said, “but bring your daughter to the preschool gym class and see how you like it.” We did, and as they say—the rest is history. We’ve been part of that same group for nine years now, and not only have we enjoyed a host of activities and wonderful friendships, but I’ve had the joy of watching these precious kids grow up together and make memories to last a lifetime. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect social environment for an only child.

The Learning Curve

We settled into a comfortable routine, just having a lot of fun with a hands-on and good-books approach. My counselors—the homeschool veterans in their books and magazine articles—urged me not to try to duplicate traditional school but to get down to the heart of real learning through classic read-alouds and living books, math in real-life experience, nature walks, field trips, and lots of discussion. This was school? Not like I had known growing up! Our dinnertime talk with Daddy about our day usually included a remark from me: “Honey! You’ll never believe what we learned about today!” One day my daughter looked at me seriously and said, “Mommy, I think you like school better than I do.” It was true.