thing I would suggest is that you make some time for yourself to be alone.
Get a sitter...lock yourself in the bathroom....or just miss out on a few
hours of sleep....this will be worth it. Once you're alone, get on your
knees and talk to God about all of this. If you feel that He has called
you to homeschool your kids...and by the way I believe this is the ONLY
way we should make this decision.... then He will NOT fail you...He will
NOT allow you to do this alone. Share with Him all your fears and doubts.
Remember...if you have doubts, then you're doubting that God can accomplish
what He has called you to do. So get rid of those doubts! :o)
Ask God for wisdom and direction with each step....getting the initial paperwork done, finding the right curriculum, etc. Ask God to help you to see the individual needs of each child. They all learn in different ways...some by seeing, some by hearing and some by doing. Ask God to help you appreciate the uniqueness and interests of each child and then tailor their curriculum to fit their needs, gifts and interests. After you've spent much time in prayer...then make a commitment to spend a few quiet moments alone with the Lord before starting each homeschool day. Don't try to do it in your own power. *THERE WILL BE FRUSTRATING DAYS! You will be tired or ill, the kids will be fighting or disobeying, the phone will be ringing, the laundry will be piled, etc. So arm yourself every morning thru prayer!!
*The 2nd most important piece of advice I could give you is...RELAX! All new homeschool (H.S.) moms worry..."Am I doing enough?"...."How many hours should we spend in school?"....."Are we learning enough spelling words?"...etc. ALL of us have been there. But think of it this way. If a strange woman/man who doesn't really KNOW anything about your child can teach them from a preplanned, structured text book....how much better can you...their MOTHER, who gave them life, who knows everything about each one as an individual...who spends every waking moment with them...how much better can YOU teach them?!! And don't worry about being as "structured" and organized as the public schools. Now I realize you may have your own educational philosophy.... but for me...I believe that learning is a natural human inclination. And I personally believe that when a child is forced to sit in a classroom with 25-30 other kids the exact same age as them, being led by someone they don't know...someone who doesn't really care about them...and when these kids are "fed" facts, numbers, dates, etc. that really have no interest to them....and they are forced to learn at a particular level and speed because some standardized test SAYS that they should ...(as if each kid is cut out with a cookie cutter..)...I truly believe that all of this destroys the natural inclination or desire to learn. I have felt this way for many years but now over the past 6-7 years I have been able to witness this first hand in my girls. *WHen a child is allowed to learn at their own pace...their own level and speed...and they are surrounded with good books..(classic literature, not just sillyness) and good music....educational magazines, videos, software, etc... and they are encouraged to pursue and explore their interests...these kids flourish and they develop a LOVE for learning. No longer do I have to insist that they do their lessons....they wake up early to start!! You see.....I don't feel that learning is confined to Mon.-Fri. or from 8am.-3pm. or from Sept.-June. But learning is a lifelong adventure. And to demonstrate this to my kids...I try to set a good example by allowing them to see me and my husband doing a lot of reading, researching areas of interest, listening to good music, etc. Our home is filled with shelves and shelves and boxes and boxes of books, science magazines and videos, encyclopedias, computer software, etc. And before you worry about COST...Don't! I spend less than $150 per year TOTALLED. And I shop at used book stores, garage sales, flea markets and I watch for Homeschool Book Trades where H.S. families come together, set up tables with their unneeded books to sell at low prices. Usually Math texts will be the biggest expense and you really can't find those in garage sales too often. I also like to find OLD books...because literature was so much better back then. You may hear them referred to as "Living Books" in H.S. circles. You know...Huck Finn, Moby Dick, etc. And we also enjoy The Little House on the Prairie Series, C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia", Charlottes Web, Stuart Little, "Wind in the Willows", etc. These books are also great for "Copywork", which I think I discussed in my Homeschool Journal Webpage (possibly on pg.2).
*Also important, I think...is to remember NOT to try to recreate the public school classroom. That's what didn't work in the first place! It may take some time to find your niche but soon your family will find a routine that works for YOU. Homeschooling is not really "schooling"...but it is more like a "learning lifestyle". So it involves the whole family. Your children learn as they stand at your side while you bake a batch of cookies...let them help or watch you measure out 1 1\2 cups of flour. Your children learn as you go thru the grocery store, comparing prices, using coupons, etc. Our children learn as they write a letter to grandma or they help you write a letter to your town mayor about a particular issue. Your children learn as Springtime arrives...trees get new leaves, tulips bloom from a bulb you planted last Fall, earth worms find their way to the earth's surface, mama birds care for their babies......God's beautiful creation is better than ANY science textbook and a whole lot more interesting to a child (as well as a "mama")!! So keep in mind that learning does not have to always take place in a structured, preplanned way.
*Something else to think about.... there are a lot of things that we can teach our children in the home that have much more lifelong value....and these things they would never learn in public school! Your son will learn as he watches your example of being diligent in your role as Church Nursery Worker Coordinator... as he see's his Dad being honest, kind and accountable at the office.... as he helps with his fair share around the house.... he will learn that good work ethics are so very important. Your daughter will watch you as you cook, clean, sew and garden... and as you nurse the baby or read her a story or care for a sick child... and you do ALL of this with as much of a Gentle Spirit..with as much patience as possible. Through all of that she will learn the value of a virteous woman and loving mother. As you face the trials that come into all of our lives your children will learn that families draw strength from God and each other when faced with adversity. There are things that we need to teach our children that are more important than spelling words, multiplication facts and the capitals of U.S. states!
*Another very important issue for parents who are pulling their children out of public school is that your kids may require a time for "Deprogramming". I have talked with many parents new to H.S.ing who say that their child(ren) is(are) "out of control"...disrespectful, disobedient... or they refuse to do their lessons, or they aren't learning anything. In my opinion these things are "symptoms" of the "un-natural" learning environment like I described in the beginning of this (loooong) email :o) What I suggest to these parents is exactly what I also did in my own home when we first began.
*For 2-3 months we put all text books on the book shelf and left them there. When we got up each morning I did NOT say, "Let's start our school day". Some days I would say, "Today you can do anything you want to EXCEPT watch TV or play video games." And I would quietly observe my children. At first it was very difficult for them. They were so used to someone telling them what to do and when to do it...that they didn't know what to do with themselves. They would whine, "We're bored". But gradually...as the days and weeks passed I began to see changes in my girls!! Erin would lay in the front porch swing for hours at a time reading about the life of Laura Ingalls... Emma bought a real sketch book and charcoal pencil and her love and talent for drawing and art began to bloom. April started what is now several volumes of an Equestrian Notebook. She loves horses...so she began to collect facts and information, cut out newspaper and magazine clippings and pasted them into the notebook and she even began to sketch beautiful pictures of horses!! Erin realized that she enjoyed cooking and baking.... she taught herself (from a cookbook she got from 4-H) how to bake breads from scratch, she made several batches of strawberry jam and cooked dinner atleast one night a week. April would take a small notebook and head for her favorite spot under a shade tree in our back yard...and she began to pour out her heart..thru POETRY. (She has since then had several poems published!) We took picnics to the park and observed all the wildlife, types of trees, etc. We spent hours laying on a blanket looking up at the sky observing the various cloud formations..armed of course with a Field Guide on Clouds!! (*Field guides are a wonderful yet inexpensive addition to your homeschool book collection and they are available on anything...birds, minerals, wildflowers, snakes and reptiles, sea shells, etc.)
I began to see my children relax...to look forward to each new school day...they actually enjoyed each others company!!...they were polite and respectful.... and best of all...THEY WERE LEARNING!! So I would suggest that you think about allowing some deprograming time for your kids. Each of them (as well as you) will need some time to STOP thinking of learning only as text books, schedules, sitting at desks, etc. And you may realize..once you see the change in all of your lives...that you may want to limit how often you bring the text books off the shelf!
*PAPERWORK: homeschool laws vary from state to state. All I know about is OHIO's law. And we are allowed 2 options for "end-of-year assessment". #1-each child can take a standardized test (you should know by now that I...uh hemm.. "DE-TEST" standardized testing! hee hee) and option #2- the one I choose- I collect selections of their assignments and my notes on their work from each subject area for each child. At the end of the year I organize all this as neatly as possible, I assemble them all in folders and I take the folders along with any necessary books/workbooks to a "CERTIFIED SCHOOL TEACHER" who has agreed to evaluate their work. For a fee (usually $35-$75 per child...depending on how well you know the evaluator, I guess :o))...the evaluator reads thru all info. for each child and she then writes a "narrative report" on each child...stating if they are/are not at grade level or above for each subject level. When she finishes this (I always try to allow her atleast 3-4 weeks time) I submit her Narrative Reports on each child along with the coming years "Notification Form" and also our "Planned Curriculum" for each child for the coming year...to our local school district's superintendant's office. In return, I will receive an "Approval Letter" from the school district stating that the child is "excused" from public school attendance for that year.
*It's important to know what the LAWs are for your state. If you're having trouble finding that out, you might contact "The Homeschool Legal Defense Association" . And I'd also highly recommend paying the $100 or so each year to them. It's worth the money for your own piece of mind. (If you're not sure what "H.S.L.D.A." is...refer to my Homeschooling webpages or email me)
*As far as being organized about keeping good records on each child...each mom has her own way. It may take some "trial and error" but you'll find what works for you. As for ME: one of the daily assignments for each of the girls is to keep a daily H.S. Journal. In here they write about all that they have done in all subject areas...being specific about details. (This is also good for their penmanship, composition, spelling, etc. and I check these weekly) In addition to their journals...I also keep my own. I do mine in "Diary Form"...I write about what progress or problems I might observe in the girls both academically AND emotionally and I give details about our days. This way I have TWO daily records ! And then I went out and bought those inexpensive plastic ("Rubbermaid") boxes with lids and I labelled one for each of the girls. In each box is a folder for each of their subject areas and I keep daily assignments in their. So that's my system. Maybe it will work for you...or maybe you can combine some of my ideas with some of your own. Or maybe you'll trash my idea and come up with something better for yourself!(Let me know!!) :o)
Well...I know this is unbelievably LONG! For that, I apologize. But when someone comes to me seeking how to get started...I can still remember my own feelings those first few weeks....so overwhelmed, scared, doubting my own abilities, etc. Sure, there are lots of books out there...but no one actually sat down and explained to me....what I was supposed to do after I had ordered all the nice, shiny new books, filled every empty coffee can with crayons, markers, pencils and pens, bought enough notebook paper to wipe out a forest and sat the kids down at the table....each staring at me with open mouths and wondering eyes!! So...it is my prayer that you will find some help here.
remember...this most important thing... DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS ON YOUR
OWN!! Start each day at Jesus' feet...strengthen and equip yourself thru
prayer and rely on God's strength, guidance and wisdom. And seek out a homeschool
support group or a friend that you can count on.
And if I can ever be of any help, please email me and I will do my best to answer your question.
Remember...God has entrusted you with these children. And now HE has called you to teach them at home. So trust in Him to guide you. I am certain that like me... you will find that this is the greatest thing you have ever done with your life. There is no higher calling than to disciple God's children. Our homes are our "mission field".
Thank You so much for allowing me to share my heart with you. Remember, for more day-to-day details of our Homeschooling days check out my Homeschool Journal. I try to update it as often as I can. Thanks again for your time. You have been a blessing to me today.
In His Service Always,
Living Beyond Adversity
Thank You and Praise You for walking along beside me on this path of homeschooling my children. THank you for all that You have taught me.
Now Gracious Lord, I ask that each and every person that reads the words upon this page will find guidance, wisdom, comfort & encouragement. Speak through these words to the hearts & minds of the reader. Equip them in their calling to teach their children in their home. Allow them to feel Your presence & peace.
And I ask Dear God that You would bless each child whose parents have read these words. Protect & Instruct them Lord. Equip them for Your service, keep them on the path of Your perfect Will for their lives.
Thank You Jesus for each child You have blessed us with. Help us to always take the time to be still, to watch them at play, to really listen to their laughter and the sound of their voice, help us to look into their eyes, to appreciate the unique person that You have created. Bless each Home represented through this page, meet the physical and spiritual needs and draw each person closer to You. Use us Lord to be an instrument of Your Peace. Praise You Jesus for Thou Art God, You have given us all that we have. May we offer it back to You for Your Glory.
In Christ's Blessed Name, Amen
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