When friends and family members discover that you have elected to home school, one of the most common reactions is, "I could never homeschool! I wouldn't know where to begin!" When I made the decision to home school, I too felt a certain amount of anxiety. I wondered if I would truly be able to meet the needs of my children.

As you prayerfully proceed, you begin to discover the wealth of knowledge and materials that are available to the homeschooling family. In fact, you may find the choices you have to be a little overwhelming. Eventually you begin to determine what "works" and what doesn't and in time you find that you have developed a strong sense of how to teach your children knowledge and wisdom.

For many families, however, this process may take much longer than we would like. As a result we can't help but think about the time we lost pursuing methods that were not very effective. We may find ourselves asking, "If we could homeschool our children all over again, what would we do differently?"

To answer this question, it's important that we consider what our objectives are and whether we have a clear vision of where we are going before we start the homeschooling journey.

We knew that it was one thing to make our children read history books. But would it not be much better if we could give them a love for history? Additionally, we could easily direct our children to read their Bibles but it would be much more valuable if we could pass along to them a genuine love for God's Word. In such critical categories surrounding the development of our children's lives, none of us want to be spinning our wheels. We all want to make the learning experience rich and rewarding from the beginning.

In our home we earnestly wanted to pass onto our children a love of history. Yet as we began to teach history we soon learned that the typical textbooks made the subject matter dry and static. Biographies, however, made history so much more enjoyable. They reveal the heart behind the men and women in the events. This is so important because it allows our children to genuinely connect with historical figures and join with them in their struggles and their triumphs. Put simply, it made history come alive! 

This approach is also true of many other areas of study. Howard and William Hendricks (Living by the Book, 1993) wrote about the importance of getting "involved" with the text. They report that studies have shown that we remember 10 percent of what we hear; 50 percent of what we see and hear; but 90 percent of what we do, see, and hear! They even suggest that as you study the Scripture one of the best ways of getting involved with the text is by creating charts. 

We've witnessed first hand that if we could get our children to personalize and engage in their studies, they showed much greater interest, enthusiasm, and retention. In my own experience as a young student, I can still clearly recall a sixth-grade assignment to create a report on the state of Florida. I was instructed to go to the library and find all the materials for myself. I was not merely looking up "answers", I was researching, reasoning, and then writing about my findings. To my surprise, I had a blast! As anyone who knew me at the time can tell you, I fell in love with the "sunshine state" and was eager to discuss it at the drop of a hat! In fact, I still have my notebook and remember so many things I learned about the state of Florida.

It has become clear in our homeschool experience that creating notebooks for each subject we tackled is not only fun it is also extremely effective. Our nine-year-old son is creating a U.S. history and geography notebook. He is also compiling a notebook from writings from his morning devotions, where he is learning about the attributes of God. Our seven-year-old has her own history notebook, as well as a notebook she is creating from the Bible stories we are reading together in the mornings.