HOMESCHOOL-Where Do I Begin?
Kay Green of MyPreciousKid.com
You have decided to home school your children. You have been thinking and praying about it for some time. As September approaches you know it is time. Where to start? The choices seem overwhelming.
How well I remember those days. My children had spent the previous year in a new rural public school. They had completed 1st, 3rd, and 6th grades. They were unhappy with school. I was unhappy with school. I knew there had to be a better way. I asked questions of everyone I could find who had home schooled. I read every book in the library on the subject. I prayed without ceasing. I ordered curriculum catalogs. I went to the home school fair. I read even more.
Once my husband and I made the decision there was peace. I knew that I would be stretched tremendously, but I knew it was the answer. God was faithful to encourage us over and over. Now the decision was made, but where to begin.
I felt we needed a structured program with accountability for the first year. I needed to know what to teach and how to teach. We selected a complete program from Christian Liberty Academy. This program provided diagnostic testing, all books and manuals, and the record keeping. It made me feel secure.
The curriculum choices are staggering. I really suggest you pick one provider for the first year. At the end of the year re-evaluate what worked and what didnít. I really believe that all curriculum works if you use it. They differences are mostly about style and design. As you grow in confidence you will feel more secure about choosing curriculum.
I read about learning styles. I realized that my children did not all learn the same way. My girls were both visual learners. They were also very self motivated. They were excited about home school. My son was a busy, wiggly, distracted, hands-on kinesthetic learner. I understood that could be a challenge to both of us.
The first year proved to be a time of adjustments for everyone. I learned how to teach to all three learning styles. The visual learners loved books, posters, charts, and lists. The kinesthetic learner wanted hands-on projects, manipulatives, and artwork. Auditory learners need to talk about what they are learning. This meant teaching concepts several ways. I learned when I taught to all three styles all the children learned more.
I read about school style and goals. I begin to understand there was not one perfect way to home school. What did we want for our family? We could choose Charlotte Mason method, unit studies, the principle approach, classical education, independent learning, textbook based, history emphasis, accelerated education, or unschooling. So many choices! How to choose what was best for our children?
After reading about each I felt pulled toward independent accelerated education. It was suggested that I home school my youngest because at first grade (age 5) she was already well ahead of all her classmates. She began reading at age 4 and scored 2 years ahead of her classmates. My oldest daughter was also ahead of her age mates by 1-1/2 years. It seemed to fit these children to teach them to work at their own pace . I wanted them to learn how to learn.
I developed a weekly goal chart, which showed the minimum work to be accomplished each day. They were to cross off each assignment as completed. They enjoyed the control this gave them. They could choose to do the minimum or work ahead.
They first year also was used to undo the attitudes and expectations of public school. We worked on attitudes and character traits. I set up an incentive program to reinforce the behaviors I wanted to see. I assigned scripture memorization. The children were allowed to earn points for prizes. They really enjoy this. The younger children especially respond to this method. The prizes were all school related.
Scheduling was also import to our school. I wanted to be sure that all the important things were accomplished each day. We set a starting time and the order for subjects. We also scheduled regular breaks and lunch times. The children were finished for the day when the minimum was completed.
Above everything else my attitude played the most important role. If I was grouchy or insecure or rushed or out of control everything else was effected. If I relied on the Lord and have my attitude and heart right everything ran smoother. I must constantly seek Him, be in the Word, submit my will, and be teachable. When I do that He is able to guide me on the right path.
What are the results? My youngest daughter Allison is 13 She is happy and challenged. She will complete the last part of 9th grade this year. She is taking piano lesson. She loves reading historical fiction and biographies. She loves the Lord and is thinking about becoming a pastor. She wants to use her musical gift for the Lord.
My son Jordan is 16. He started as an unmotivated average student. He scored his highest ever on achievement scores this spring (98th%). He loves the Lord. He witnesses to kids at the park. He loves to roller blade and is playing the bass guitar for adult and youth worship services.
My oldest daughter Melissa is 18. She graduated from American School (an accredited correspondence high school program) in June 1999 at age 16. She went on a mission trip to Mexico in August. She is active in a discipleship youth group. She is in her 2nd year of college to become a preschool teacher.
As you can see, 7 years of home school has brought many dividends. I urge you to seek the Lord, become friends with other home school families, and get involved in your church. If we can do it, so can you.
Take one day at a time and pray every step of the way. Enjoy watching your children learn about this world in which they live.
Kay Green and her family live in rural Oregon. They have home schooled for the past 7 years. She loves helping new families start the journey of home school. She has a web page at http://www.preciouskids.org She has also written the book: HOMESCHOOL-A New Beginning.