Each year, at about this time, I receive an email (or five) that reads something like this:
It’s been on my heart to homeschool my son next year. I’ve been praying about it and doing some reading. Where do I start? I’m really scared. What curriculum should I use? Any advice would be helpful. I’m not sure I can do this. And did I mention that I’m scared?
Rebecca’s Friend (or friend of a friend)
I love getting those emails. Really, I do! And most of the homeschooling moms I know also love receiving them. We are honored to be asked. More importantly, we are excited as our friends embark on this adventure with their families. It is a difficult journey, but they will not regret it. So, for the benefit those friends who:
a) Have been too scared to ask, or
b) Are up at 2am, praying about this decision, and searching for answers, or
c) May not know me well enough to feel comfortable emailing me directly…
Here is my general response:
Yay! I am truly excited with and for you!
Breathe! I know it can be overwhelming – especially at first. But remember that when God calls, He also equips. He will see you through this. Yes, there is a lot to learn, but you don’t have to know everything at the beginning. You can learn as you go. Furthermore, other families have gone before us. We can follow in their footsteps and learn from their mis-steps.
Here is the route I recommend:
1. Prayer is the most important part. It is the first step and should continue throughout your journey. So you are already on the right track. Search the Scriptures for the words ‘teach’ and ‘train.’ Pray those verses for yourself and your family.
2. The next step is to write out all the reasons you want to homeschool your son. List everything from the things the Lord is whispering in your heart, to the struggles you see him encountering now, to the strengths he has, to the dreams of what you want his education to look like. Then put that paper in a secure location. You may even want to make an extra copy. You will need it when you start to choose curriculum. And, if you’re like most of us, you’ll need it again in February when the winter doldrums hit. (In fact, go ahead and put a note in your calendar on 2/1 that will pop up with a reminder to re-read your list.)
3. Once you have the list, you’ll want to do some reading on local laws and basic education methods. The laws in Georgia are homeschool friendly and fairly relaxed. GHEA.org is the best resource for that. (If you’re not in Georgia, check HSLDA for the laws in your state.)
While you’re there, check out their recommended reading list. You do NOT have to read every book on the list. Choose a few books by different authors, with titles which appeal to you. My favorite author is Ruth Beechick. Sally Clarkson is also great. Another book that is not listed, but that I found helpful is The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Check your local library; they’ll have several books on homeschooling. There are a TON of educational philosophies and methods out there. Understand that you don’t have to choose one and stick with it forever. You just want to know which basic styles best match your vision, your lifestyle, and your son’s giftedness now. That is why you want the written list first.
4. From there, Cathy Duffy’s curriculum guide (also on that reading list) will help you choose the best curriculum for you and your son. She sorts everything by learning style and basic philosophy. It will save you some time and headaches by helping narrow your choices.
5. I HIGHLY encourage you to attend a local convention. That is where you can soak up knowledge from experienced parents who have walked this road before you. You can thumb through curricula to see whether they really appeal to you. And you can talk with publishers and sometimes even authors to determine whether their products are a good fit. (BTW – Dads and kids are welcome and encouraged to attend, too.)
In Georgia, we are blessed to have two conventions, GHEA, and the Southeast Homeschool Expo. We also have access to many more conventions in neighboring states as well as small workshops hosted by local support groups.
There is much, much more that I could tell you, but this will get you well on your way.
Homeschooling is just like your first steps into motherhood. It is a wonderful, exciting adventure. It will be a learning experience for both you and your child. It will not always be easy. You will make mistakes. But God’s grace is big; He will bless your obedience to His will. And throughout the journey, you will learn more about who He is and how much He loves us.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I love helping new families get started homeschooling. It is not a bother, it is an honor.
May God bless you,