- Monday, August 30, 2004
New to Homeschooling? Welcome!!!! You have just decided to join the ranks of the beginning homeschoolers who wish they knew what they were doing. Are you a little terrified or are you overwhelmed with choices? Are you questioning how to prepare for the homeschooling year with regards to your curriculum, your style and your schedule? There are as many varied answers as there are homeschooling families out there. Before you can answer any of these questions, you need to establish your thoughts and make some goals. Let's begin to answer some questions by asking a few more:
- If this is your child's first year, are you and your children really ready now or should you wait? If you all are ready, what exactly do you want to accomplish this year with your children? When you have a plan, then you can begin looking at how to accomplish that plan and with what curriculum, if any. Sit down with your husband to discuss and pray over your educational goals each year for each child and write them down.
- What is your philosophy (or viewpoint) of education – in other words, in the long run, what do you believe is important? What do you want the education of your children to achieve for them? Do you want them well educated in man's wisdom in order to be able to answer every man? Do you want them well educated in God's precepts? Do you want them tested, or do you want to avoid testing? Do you want them to eventually go to college or to be apprenticed? What are your personal convictions? Discuss them regularly.
- What type of personality is your family – are you well organized with your time, or more relaxed? Do you enjoy paperwork or nature walks? Are you project oriented or would you rather read good books? Are you scheduled or spontaneous? If you know your style, you will be better able to decipher what will work for your family.
- What kind of learner is your child? Do they learn better by seeing (visual), hearing (auditory) or doing (kinesthetic)? Will they learn better with textbooks, hands-on, narration, or a combination? Only look for things that you can easily use and that will enhance their ability to learn. Get practical and make a list for each child about what they need - keep it basic. Don't overwhelm yourself with extras that are not necessary.
The answers to all of these options are good and all of them are right, but not all of them are good and right for your family. Your family is so unique that you will be different from all others in your approach, your goals, and your convictions. Know too, that you probably will not be able to answer all of these questions before you begin schooling your children, but as you go along and find out what works in your household, and you begin to see all the philosophies and styles of teaching out there, you will begin to see where your family fits and your personal style will begin to emerge. What is most important is that you are in unity with your spouse and you know the heart of God for your own family.
Psalm 37:23 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way."
Let's get a little more practical. If your children are very young and just beginning homeschooling, you will only need a few good resources. They must be taught to read, so you will need a good resource to learn phonics. For writing, they can begin writing simple words on lined paper or you can find a resource to help them shape their letters. You'll need a good math book which covers the basics and offers repetition for reinforcement. Math manipulatives can be beans or cheerios. Most likely you will not need anything extra that you don't already have around the house. And, of course, you should be reading the Bible to them daily and other really good history, science, and just plain fun reading books. If you decide to do add unit type studies, many of them help you prepare with lists of items you will need before you start the study. A note of encouragement: you will not ruin your children's education by starting with something and changing to something else if it doesn't work well for you.
As this is the beginning of your adventure, don't go it alone. Get support. A few like-minded friends or a support group will work wonders in answering some of these questions and offering encouragement. Keep reading, keep asking questions, and you're sure to find many answers. You should also go to the Home School Legal Defense Association website for any questions relating to legal issues in your state at www.hslda.org and consider becoming members in order to protect your family legally.
Stay in tune to the homeschooling community by subscribing to a good homeschooling newsletter (such as those offered on www.Crosswalk.com) and/or a quality magazine (such as The Old Schoolhouse) You would definitely benefit from reading the articles and hearing about other families and how they homeschool.
What about you, the new teacher? What do you need? Soak in the Word and keep feeding yourself spiritually until you are overflowing with His joy and confidence. If He has called you to teach your children, His grace will be sufficient for any perceived weakness you think you have. You need His Word more than you need anything else. As you pray about your options, remember to seek the scriptures for confirmation. When you go to Him and His Word, He will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory.
Proverbs 16:9 "A man's heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps."
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