I sometimes have to laugh at the idea of my being any sort of a homeschooling “expert”. After all, I wasn’t homeschooled, was anti-homeschooling as a college student (could somebody please help me to remember the name of the educational ministries professor I argued with openly in class, so that I can apologize publicly?), and my homeschooled kids are all still “little”. What do I really contribute to this conversation?
I must humbly admit that most of what I know has come from listening to experienced homeschooling parents. (That, and reading. I’ve always been a bookworm.) This is why I strongly encourage parents, especially those who are new to homeschooling, to join some sort of a homeschooling support group or co-op. Bare minimum, we all would benefit from 2-3 moms who know more than we do.
I am thankful to be part of a church that is very supportive of homeschooling, with many women who have walked this road ahead of me. Several of these ladies have given me little “nuggets” of advice, that the LORD consistently uses to help me keep moving forward when I start to lose perspective. I hope the “top ten” that I share here today will be as encouraging to you as they have been to me:
1. Much of early homeschooling can be accomplished with two activities–reading out loud and playing outside.
2. Preschool doesn’t need to take more than 15 minutes a day. Kindergarten, no more than 45. Now, she didn’t say that she never taught her little ones anything for the rest of the day…only that she didn’t need to “do academics” any longer than that. My kids regularly want to do school longer–but this is really good to remember when they, or I, don’t.
3. Teach reading while nursing the baby. Teach math while the baby naps.
4. If you have the choice between working together and “doing school” together, work together. Life is work, and teaching our children the value of work is one of the most important gifts we can give them. When we work together, we usually have the opportunity to do the kind of “walk-along, talk-along” discipleship that Jesus did.
5. Did you read the Bible and pray with them today? If so, stop beating yourself up. You did what was most important. Tomorrow is a new day.
6. If it’s not working for you and your child, get rid of it. It doesn’t matter if every other homeschooling mom you know loves it. Be done with it. No amount of money spent on curriculum is worth the daily stress and tears. (If it’s really that highly recommended, it should be easy to resell on homeschoolclassifieds.com).
7. Try to choose “multi-age” curriculum whenever possible. This kind of curriculum allows you to study a subject–say ancient history–as a family. Your kindergartener can learn about the pyramids right along side his 2nd grade brother and his 5th grade sister…sometimes all the way through highschool. It saves time, saves money, reduces mommy stress, and promotes family togetherness.
8. It is okay, for example, to allow your son to complete all of his math assignments for a month in a matter of days, in order that he might spend the rest of that month building with Legos. He might become a computer programmer someday. (True Story.)
9. If your child understands the material, it’s perfectly acceptable to move on to the next lesson. You don’t need to finish every assignment. In fact, some books just weren’t meant to be finished. You didn’t do every lesson in every textbook you were issued in school, did you?
10. Don’t forget to enjoy your kids!! Homeschooling is relational…don’t miss it! If you’re having an “off” day, get out and do something fun as a family, or have a playdate with friends. Remind yourself daily how blessed you are to be free to educate your own children in accordance with your faith and values. Hug and kiss them regularly.
They grow up way too fast.