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I first heard about homeschooling when I was 12 years old. I saw a bumper sticker on a car that read “Proud Homeschool Parent” and I asked my mom what “homeschool” was. I was shocked to find out that it was possibile to keep your kids at home and educate them! That was the initial spark that ignited my love of the concept of home education. My daughters have been homeschooled since day one. They are now 11, 5, and 3.
I met a homeschool family for the first time when I was 16 and in a 4H Journalism Club. The leader of the club was a homeschool mom and her oldest daughter was one of the members. I remember hearing about what their homeschool days were like, thinking it sounded pretty great. This was the early 1990s, prior to the Internet information explosion, so homeschooling wasn’t as widespread or well known. Although I was an honor student, I did not enjoy my time in public school and I always kept the thought of homeschooling my own kids in the back of my mind. I really made the decision before I even met my husband! When we got married and talked about having kids, I mentioned homeschooling. He thought it was an interesting idea, but I don’t know if he thought I was serious at the time. When we became Christians and heard more and more about homeschooling, it seemed natural that God was calling us to do that. We went through infertility for years before finally having our first daughter, which cemented the idea that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool. I have a deep appreciation for the three daughters we’ve been blessed with and I enjoy spending time with them, both as mom and teacher!
We tend toward delight-directed learning. Whenever my daughters have an interest, we explore the topic thoroughly. Many times this means taking a unit study approach, like we’ve done with The Prairie Primer when my oldest daughter discovered a love for The Little House on the Prairie books. Most of our studies are literature-rich, including using living books for history rather than textbooks. We also enjoy Charlotte Mason nature studies, lapbooking, notebooking, and Montessori for the early years. We love field trips whenever possible. Although this type of eclectic approach might not be practical for those who need routine, it works for us! I record all of our work in a planner and take plenty of pictures to create a portfolio/yearbook at the end of the year to meet our state’s requirements.
My advice for new homeschoolers would be this:
Don’t compare yourself to others. You are the expert on what works for your family and it doesn’t have to look like what everyone else is doing.
Decide on a mission statement for your homeschool. This will keep you focused even when you get discouraged or overwhelmed. It could even include a Bible verse reminder. Our homeschool motto is Lux et Veritas (Light and Truth) and our homeschool name is Legacy Academy. It is a constant reminder to me that my goal is raise our daughters in the faith and to pass on a legacy of love and learning to them.
Accept that doing it all is impossible. Choose what matters, let the rest go. Somedays the house will be a mess. It happens. Give yourself and your children grace. Years from now you won’t remember the mess, but you’ll have the memories of the fun things you did together.
Above all, pray!
We’ve been homeschooling for six years officially, but there are still days when I don’t accomplish what I think I should’ve with our lessons or our plans get derailed. We also have special challenges with our middle daughter’s autism that require flexibility to adjust our learning style when necessary. Some days it is tough to stretch myself enough to cover the needs of all three girls. However, no matter how much it might feel that I’m spinning my wheels, at the end of the day I know I’ve done the best thing I can for my girls just by being there for them and encouraging their natural gifts and talents. There are many, many more rewards than challenges, but homeschooling does require a devotion of the heart and mind. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Sara @ Embracing Destiny