You can do it! It’s exciting to have been homeschooling our children for long enough that I’m no longer the one asking all the questions – there are some I can actually answer. I hope to one day be like my wonderful mother-in-law who has a gift for encouraging every parent who is considering homeschooling. She’s seen almost every curriculum in existence and has the right perspective to help parents feel equipped. I may never know quite as much as she does, but I do hope to be a similar voice of encouragement to young moms embarking on the holy and rewarding task of educating their children!
One helpful book I read early on was The Homeschooling Handbook, 2nd Edition. It provided me with my first glimpse into the different styles of home education. It’s full of short testimonials from parents all over the country and gives a good overview of the process, including some of the more intimidating details like state laws and record keeping. I like how author Mary Griffith doesn’t waste time in bringing up the “s” word: “Socialization is, really and truly, a complete nonissue. People worry about it and they shouldn’t. Not even a little bit. Unless you lock your children in the basement, they will get ‘socialized.'” (page 11)
Shortly after reading it, I embarked on a structured approach to home education with our 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. We schooled while their baby brother napped. Even though I myself was homeschooled from first through sixth grade, I still felt nervous about starting the journey with our own kids! Here are some notes from summer 2013 when we took the plunge.
We just finished up our first month of homeschooling! I love homeschooling! I will always remember how Mason told me on one of our first dates that he would only marry a woman willing to homeschool his children. We’re obviously a match made in heaven. 🙂 It really helps to have a mother-in-law who is a homeschool curriculum advisor. I know I would be struggling with a much lower confidence level without all the material that she has given me over the past few years. She even ordered the Interlock Program (Weaver Interlock) for us, and that thing is GREAT.
It’s about as old-school as homeschool can get, and I like it. The first week was all about Daddy, building a framework for discussing God as our Father. Since then we’ve discussed God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, truth, the first and second days of creation, light, color, air, beginning math and so much more. Each subject is woven into one overarching topic in the first chapter of Genesis so that only I as the teacher see the transitions from Bible to science to social studies to art to math, and so on. The curriculum advises to dedicate about an hour and a half, three days per week to the material, and it’s worked out just so. Once the hour and a half of creating, singing, dancing, drawing, painting, playing and listening are over, I am able to find opportunities throughout each day to reinforce and further explore the topics. When we touch on a topic that makes Ezekiel’s eyes light up, we are free to chase that rabbit trail as far as his 4-year-old boy attention span allows.
Weaver is definitely the perfect curriculum for us to start out with. I treasure watching Eden and Ezekiel, though 20 months apart in age, begin their “formal” schooling journeys together – because we all know that school really starts with mom and dad the day a baby is born. Interlock combines preschool and kindergarten activities in one teacher’s book, but of course Eden (the blessed second child) is very close to functioning at Ezekiel’s kindergarten level.
I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of this wonderful new world. I don’t have adequate words to express how much I enjoy being with our children all day. Yes, I sometimes feel as if I’m going crazy, but that’s because I have three children ages 4 and under. You would have to pay ME to make me hand them over to you for the day. I adore them and despite occasional frustration and exhaustion (okay, make that constant exhaustion), I feel the time slipping quickly through my hands. I do not want to miss a moment of their childhood. I recently read that a good childhood is like an early heaven. I want to give our children that early heaven.
As time went on, I wanted to zero in more on which “flavor” of homeschooling would be the best fit for us. One helpful tool was Simply Charlotte Mason, where you can now get a free e-book about the five flavors of homeschooling. I was already feeling drawn to the Charlotte Mason approach, and reading For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School strengthened that attraction. I lent my book to someone so I don’t have any quotes to share with you, but it lays out an inspiring, natural, organic and holistic approach to education. After reading it, I felt relaxed, equipped and excited to continue on our homeschooling journey!
I’m not the only mom who likes to lend out a good book. A friend lent me Charity Hawkins’ The Homeschool Experiment, a Novel. A novel? Yes, a novel. It’s written in first person, stream-of-consciousness style. I wouldn’t call it polished or literary, but it was engaging and encouraging. I finished it in about a week (which is fast for me) and gave it back to her so she could lend it out again! One thing homeschooling moms can always use is more encouragement.
Finally, I’m reading Seasons of a Mother’s Heart right now. This one is is written by Sally Clarkson of Whole Heart Ministries. It’s a collection of her essays and reads like a biblical devotional for homeschooling moms. I’m only a third of the way through, but it’s already refreshed me. There might be an updated version, but this is the one I’m reading and can heartily recommend. I like how she stated something I’ve just recently come to realize: “I didn’t have to teach my children to learn. God had already prepared them to learn, and I just needed to give them room. I am simply a facilitator, releasing skills and abilities already there in my children. That was an unanticipated surprise…What a deeply satisfying and surprising joy it has been for me to discover that my children came prepared by God to learn.” (page 89)
Talk to any homeschooling mom, and you will likely get a completely different list of encouraging books and resources! Each of us is free to dive in and pursue home education in the way that best fits our family. So, even if none of these books appeal to you, you can still find out which flavor of homeschooling suits you best and start implementing it with your children. We’re grateful for the freedom we have in this country to educate our kids as we see fit! I pray it’s a liberty that continues for generations to come.