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Homeschooling: Where in the world do you start?


This is a question I've been asked many, many times over the years by parents who were ready to start but wanted to know "where to buy the books." That's a big question, and it's one I'm not even going to answer.

The first thing you need to think about is: What led us to the decision to homeschool? It's very important to take the time to answer this question, in writing if possible. This will help you define your goals. The reasons for homeschooling are almost as varied as the people that do it. You aren't going to begin homeschooling for the same reason your friends at church or your family in Florida do. It's a personal decision, and your goals are personal, as well.

If you're not even sure what your goals are, PRAY. Ask for God's guidance in raising these children he's given you. You'll be amazed at how it will all fall into place!

Once you've taken the time to answer WHY, (and I do mean take your time) you're ready to decide HOW. This is actually easier than you think.

First, you need to think about the kind of people you are trying to raise. Now, how will you get your kids to that point? When you have the end result in mind, it's easier to design a plan. This goal can be especially grounding when you start to wonder if you're doing the right thing, or when your day (or week or month) is not going well. Trust me.

It's very helpful to remember that you are not Mom and Dad from 6 a.m. til 8 a.m., then Teacher from 8 a.m. til 3 p.m., and then back to Mom and Dad from 3 p.m. til bedtime. You are parents. Period. Part of your job, if you've decided to homeschool, is to educate your children. I said part of your job. An even more important part of your job, though, is character training. It's not helpful to your children if they excel in science, writing, and math, but are not honest, loving, compassionate, hardworking, mature, responsible individuals. What kind of adults would they be? No doubt you've had interactions with that type of person in your daily life.

Here's a sample of the kinds of things I want to see in my kids:

So, when you're asking yourself what kind of people you want to raise, make a list of your priorities and make sure they are in the proper order.

I would also recommend starting out slow and easy. Some beginners want to do EVERYTHING! Start with the basics like math and language arts (spelling, reading, grammar, etc.) and slowly add in your history and science, as well as any other electives you want, as you discover your teaching preferences and your children's learning styles. It's very disappointing to purchase lots of exciting-looking curriculum only to discover it was not the right fit at all! Read to your children! My kids all love to be read to, even the 12 year old! Wear out your library card!

Don't try to make your home look like a public school classroom. Public schools are set up to keep hundreds of children in order. You are their teacher now. Design a school experience that you know will work for your family. Imagine it's 200 years ago on the American frontier, and you are solely responsible for your children's education. You've never even HEARD of a public school. What do they need to know? How will you accomplish that? That's all you need to start with!

For more on a simple look at education, visit my other blog, Prairie Sense, to see the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder's education.

If you'd like to know why I think homeschooling is a good idea, read To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool. For some ideas on natural learning, you might like Think Outside the Textbook.


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