“Homeschool? You must be crazy.”
I fired back those words at my husband as he gently suggested we homeschool our soon-to-be-kindergartener. We had just moved; I was pregnant with our second daughter. I frantically searched for reasons why we shouldn’t homeschool, but frankly, I just never planned for it. I grew up in public schools and thought that was what we would do with our family. I questioned how I could teach my daughter at home, and how she would ever get the interaction she needed with her peers. However, my husband’s reasoning did make some sense. The local school was half an hour away, and with a newborn baby, the transportation and waiting in school lines could be difficult. Being at home with my daughters could provide flexibility in our schedule. So the seed was planted.
As I continued to visit public and charter schools around us and research our options, I also began to pray. Opening my heart to God’s direction for how we should educate our daughter was the turning point for me. The Holy Spirit began to gently show me that homeschooling our daughter was the direction He was leading us. I saw in His Word that we parents are called to train our children.
I laid aside all my preconceived ideas and fears about homeschooling, and surrendered to God’s direction for our family.
So, with a decision about schooling made, I now began the monumental task of knowing where in the world to start. I talked to every homeschool mom I knew. I spent hours online researching curriculum options. I went to a homeschool conference.
Out of my extensive searching came two very valuable pieces of advice:
- Know your why.
- Limit your curriculum search.
Fortunately, this advice stopped me from going down the rabbit hole of never-ending choices and complete frustration my first year of homeschooling.
1. Know Your Why
Having a vision for your child’s education is probably the single most important piece of advice for new homeschoolers. Your vision will get you excited about starting your homeschooling journey. And it will carry you through those days when you are ready to quit…when you are ready to march your child up to the public school doors and say “Take her!” (I know I’m not the only one who’s had that daydream.)
So, why are you considering homeschooling? And I don’t mean just the reasons that make life a little more flexible and convenient. Sure, for me, it was more convenient to keep my kindergartener home. That meant less time on the road and not having to wait in school lines with a newborn baby. That also meant not having to struggle getting everyone dressed and out the door every morning. We know how difficult the morning chaos can be when it’s time to go somewhere.
Those are nice reasons, but those will not carry you through those really rough days.
As I searched my heart, and asked God to show me why He wanted our family to homeschool, I realized He had given me the amazing privilege to train my daughter. I could spend those precious hours with her at home not only educating her, but also sharing God’s love with her. It is a calling and a privilege to homeschool my child.
Ask God to show you your vision for your child’s education. His direction will guide and keep you during those difficult days.
2. Limit Your Curriculum Search
Continually researching curriculum options can lead to feeling overwhelmed. I talked to so many moms about what curriculum they were using. Everyone seemed to be doing something different, and most had pieced together different curriculums for each subject based on their preferences.
I was intimidated by all the choices. How could I ensure I chose the best curriculum for my daughter?
Fortunately, in the midst of my search, a wise friend advised me not to obsess over all the different curriculum choices in the vendor hall at an upcoming homeschool conference. At the time, her advice seemed odd to me. How could I choose a program without looking at all the choices? However, as she was much further along in her homeschooling journey, I decided to listen. Now, I realize how much sense she made. While I did get to see some curriculum at the convention, I didn’t spend hours panicking over the choices. I focused instead on attending sessions that encouraged and motivated me on getting started as a homeschooler. Just hearing stories of generations of homeschoolers was the fuel I needed to ignite my own vision. Instead of being discouraged by all the options and not knowing where to start, I came away refreshed, renewed, and energized.
As I finally made my decision on what curriculum to use, I asked these three main questions.
- Did it have a Christian viewpoint?
- Did it have a plan I could follow?
- Were all the books and materials I needed included?
I remembered seeing Sonlight at a friend’s house. It checked all of those boxes; plus it included so many wonderful books. My daughter and I already loved to read together. The peace of mind in knowing that I would have all the materials I needed and a plan to follow was invaluable to me in starting our homeschooling journey. I didn’t have to spend hours planning and piecing together materials. Everything was already put together for me.
So, I chose Sonlight and stopped looking. I had a plan in place to get going on the vision God had given me for teaching my daughter. And looking back on that first year, I’m so glad we chose Sonlight. We learned so many lessons about the world around us from God’s viewpoint, and the literature set a solid foundation for her language and reading skills.
Homeschooling is a journey. Let’s start the journey with joy, peace, and excitement about how God is using this time in our lives. On my journey, there are still days when it’s hard, when I feel like giving up. But I choose to keep going. I remember my why, rest in Him, and see God’s process. Homeschooling is refining me as much as it is refining my children. And ultimately, God has entrusted to us the privilege of training our children.