Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How do you learn to homeschool?

Because of Henry Cate's kind words and encouragement I will occassionally post a "Dear Spunky". This will feature questions that come into my inbox from friends and readers. Here's a letter I received the other day.

My husband and I were both homeschooled, and we are expecting ourfirst baby in October. We plan to homeschool our children. We had acouple over for dinner this week who has two kids - 2 1/2 and 8months. They mentioned looking into the price of preschool for the 21/2 year old. The school they're looking at costs $5,000 for a three mornings a week program!!! I asked her if they had considered homeschooling instead. At first they said, "Oh, we could never dothat!" but as my husband and I shared our experience withhomeschooling, the wife looked more interested. Then she asked me aquestion I've never heard before - "How do you learn to homeschool?"

I've never thought of it that way! Growing up in the homeschool community, I assumed you just bought your curriculum and went for it!

How would you answer a question like that? I can tell someone athousand reasons WHY they should homeschool, but I don't know what totell someone about HOW to learn how to do it.

Can you recommend a good starting book I could give her? How did YOU learn to homeschool?

First off, let me say how much I enjoy the zeal of a new homeschooler. As much as you may stand in wonder at a "veteran" I am inspired and motivated by the energy and enthusiasm of new parents ready to begin this journey.

Learning to homeschool is similar to learning to parent. Where do you go to learn how to do it? The writer of this note is fortunate she grew up around homeschooling. Most of us are first generation homeschoolers. We don't have a previous role model in the home to learn from. So what do you do?

The temptation is to run to a bunch of books and conventions, etc. I know I did. But I wish I had taken one additional step before launching into "other opinions". That is read "God's Opinion" on education. Study what the bible says about wisdom, knowledge, the wise, and the fool. Learn the characteristics of each. Learn from God's word what it means to be a family and how we are to relate to one another. Pray that the Lord guides your mind and heart to be attentive to His particualar leading in your family. After all they are HIS children on loan to us. It is best to seek the owner's manual first before consulting other "how to" manuals.

Then after you have an understanding of what God sees as "successful" go ahead and investigate other resources. Talk to others who are a just beginning and those that are further along in homeschooling. One word of caution, homeschoolers become very attached to their method or curriculum. We tend to believe that because this is the best for us, it is the best for everybody. So when you read and listen, use discerment. Don't feel like you have to use something just because that's the popular method right now. That's the beauty of homeschooling. Enjoy each other's different approaches and how God leads each one differently.

Also, don't expect to have it all figured out in one weekend or even one year. Given family circumstances and the temperment of different children our approach and curriculum may change. Don't force a curriculum simply because you've spent the money. Expect that you'll make a few lousy purchases and move on. I wrote a post on choosing curriculum that you may find helpful.

I won't repost it here but you may also like to read an Open letter to my daughter on her first day of homeschooling. It will give you a little perpsective on my thoughts about what to expect the first day.

If anyone would like to contribute or add to this feel free. If there is a resource you feel helped you get started please leave a comment and let us all know about it. I haven't kept up with a lot of the newer getting started books. I'm busy trying to figure out what the end game is for my two oldest. I'll add to this list as other blogs and resources are recommended.

And in all things keep in mind the verse of scripture.

"Your children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of them."

If you remember that you can't mess them up too badly. Trust me.

Other Bloggers:
Christine Miller wrote a blog post about Advice to the New Homeschooler that some may find helpful.
Heather at Sprittibee shares her early elementary materials.

Helpful websites:
Courtship Connection is my favorite place for family and character materials.
A to Z of Homeschooling is your one stop website for all things homeschool.
Donna Young provides loads of printable resources and helpful links.

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