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The Big Decision
From: Laura in CT
An experienced homeschooler told me, "The hardest part is the decision." She was right.
I also realized later that, while it's a decision that deserves careful thought, it's not the biggest decision or the only decision that will matter in the long run. It's one of many, many decisions, and probably not the most important of those. For one thing, it's not irrevocable: if it doesn't work for your family, you can always send them back to school, and nothing will be lost. For another thing: I believe strongly that things like the health (emotional, spiritual) of the family, their attitudes toward learning, and their ability to have fun have much more impact on the children than whether or not they homeschool, what church they go to, whether they watch TV or not, and so on.
The decision to homeschool is hard because most of us have never experienced it, and it feels radical and scary. But homeschooling quickly becomes the most natural thing--I predict that down the road, if you decide to homeschool, you'll look back on these days and wonder: What was all the fuss about? Because homeschooling becomes just a natural extension of your parenting, just another way you care for your children.
I hope you give it a try--it's a great way to live!
Hang in There
The best advice I have heard is: Don't give up until after the second year of homeschooling. The first year is the hardest. My first week I cried all the way through! But by the end of the month we were having a great time! But, some people struggle through the whole year. Keep praying and keep going.Return to the top of this page
Where Do I Begin?
From: Paula H
Before anything, pray for God's wisdom and direction because "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it."
1. Go to your library. If they don't have these books, request an Interlibrary Loan. They should be able to get them.
- Survivors Guide to Homeschooling by Shackleford & White
- The Ultimate Homeschool Guide by Debra Bell
2. Get Ruth Beechick's Three R's Series - it's a set of three pamphlets: reading, writing, and language. Most homeschool suppliers carry it. It gives a simple, curriculum-free method of teaching your child the fundamentals. Whatever curriculum you eventually choose, this series is a good education for you.
3. Get the following catalogs. All have internet sites.
- Sonlight - schooling based on delightful literature.
- Timberdoodle - They carry a smaller range of products, which they carefully select. So if your taste matches theirs, you will love most anything you get from them.
- Sing N Learn - Learn all sorts of info by song. Fun.
4. Use those resources, above, to decide which approach is best for your family. A few points to consider:
- A. The Literature Based approach, as in Sonlight and Five in a Row. If you LOVE books, look into this. On Sonlight's web site, especially read 31 Reasons NOT to Purchase Sonlight. It gives a very accurate picture of the program. Read about how Sonlight works, and why people like it, on my Sonlight pages.
- B. I think many people pick A Beka or Bob Jones because they're the best known. There are so many other choices out there, investigate all the options. While a textbook may be the most efficient in a classroom, other ways may be better suited to a home setting.
- C. In most situations I would have trouble recommending completely computer-based instruction. Other approaches are so much more engaging. But I know cases (serious illness, etc.) where it's the only way a family can continue to homeschool.
5. Go to a homeschool convention. They're usually in the spring or summer. Check
A to Z's Calendar for one near you. So many speakers, so many curriculum choices to examine, so many fellow homeschoolers ... you will learn so much, and become so motivated, it will make your head spin. A word of warning, though: set a limit on your spending and leave the plastic at home. It all looks so good, you could go broke quickly. Better to take the brochures home and prayerfully make a good choice and order a week later, than to be caught up in a buying frenzy and end up with things you'll never use.
6. Look for a support group in your area. Check HomeschoolChristian.com and HSLDA to find a local group.Return to the top of this page
I started with K 4 years ago. I have spent untold dollars "trying things out." Unfortunately, people often do one of two things: 1) go with A Beka or Alpha Omega because it's a "safe" and "accepted" route--similar to school and therefore familiar, or 2) try things all across the board, get frustrated, and go nowhere. Read Cathy Duffy and Mary Pride evaluations, read several homeschooling books and catalogs (especially Elijah Co. and Sonlight). I hear ALL the time about homeschoolers who are burned out from the accelerated, textbook types of curriculums. Remember that these were initially developed for a classroom.
You need to know if you want to school at home or homeschool--and what you and your child will be most comfortable with. DO NOT squelch her terrific beginnings by tying yourselves to a strict "curriculum" at this point--just enjoy learning together! The other best advice I learned from support groups is this: don't just ask others what they are using and if they like it. Find out what type of child uses it, and what they specifically like or dislike about it. Some really thrive on seat work (textbook/workbook), some enjoy hours of read-aloud (literature-based), and some moms take the time and energy to pour into Unit Studies (often a lot of hands-on).
Do not let whatever curriculum you choose "control" your homeschool. Don't teach the curriculum, teach the student. YOU are in charge - YOU are the one that knows what your family needs and can do on a daily basis. If you do not get all the way through a text or program in the year - SO WHAT? Schools don't either! If you want to play Chess one day for "logic" - DO IT! If the laundry is piled to the sky - do a Math exercise on sorting with your child, and get on with it.Return to the top of this page
Links for New Homeschoolers
55 Reasons To Homeschool from NHEN; GREAT list!
NHEN Articles for new homeschoolers
Itís Not As Hard As It Sounds! from Honeypot Hollow
Homeschool Beginner Page from HomeschoolChristian.com
A to Z Home's Cool Beginner Articles
Melanie's Advice for New Homeschoolers
Calendar of Homeschool Conventions from A to Z Home's Cool
Articles from Elijah Company
Articles from About.Com
Beginning to Homeschool from Oregon Home Ed Network
Beginner FAQ from Home Education Magazine
Questions and Answers from The Teaching Home Magazine
Answers to Objections About Homeschooling, by Fred Worth
Research links from About.Com
HSLDA index of state laws & organizations
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Email Paula H