If you’re reading this, you likely are either considering homeschooling or are already deep in the trenches and looking for support or options.
Or, you just enjoy reading the ramblings of others who have a similar focus as you.
Whatever your reason, I pray this post brings something positive to your day.
There are others far more qualified to explain the deeper complexities of this lifestyle we’ve been called to, but I’m led to share what I have learned, so far, during my family’s homeschooling journey.
Not everyone chooses to walk this path, and that’s okay.
My family consider ourselves blessed to spend each day together learning, growing, and experiencing life (this includes the sibling bickering) the way generations of families did before the creation of government funded public school, and compulsory attendance.
In a world concerned with political correctness, progressive Christianity, and militant feminisim, I praise God every day that my children have the chance to avoid the indoctrination of modern ‘acceptance’.
From Public-schooling to Homeschooling
My family didn’t fall into this homeschool lifestyle by accident, but we also didn’t plan to keep our children home.
Seven years ago, my daughter was enrolled in first grade at the local public school.
For months I felt led to be more involved with children, and I admit, I assumed this meant I should be more active in the children’s ministry at church.
As with every decision in life, I turned to prayer.
The answer I received was not what I was expecting, or what I thought I wanted.
So, I argued with God.
After all, He must be mistaken.
I couldn’t imagine being home with my head-strong daughter all day, every day; and what did I know about teaching?
After several days of stubborn refusal on my part (my daughter obviously comes by her temperament naturally) I acquiesced to God.
I don’t regret that decision.
Homeschooling Philosophies or Boxed Curriculum Oh, My!
There are more curriculum choices and homeschooling philosophies than I personally know what to do with.
Or they’re not so great.
It really depends on each unique family and their learning styles, and I’m not going to recreate the wheel.
There are blogs upon blogs that discuss the differences–the pros and cons, of each philosophy or curriculum.
Jumping into the Deep End of the Pool
When we first removed our eldest from public school, I had no idea where to even begin.
The only things I knew were that God wanted us to follow this path, and the K-12 online program wasn’t for us.
That left a lot to wade through and consider.
In the last five years my daughter and I have used various methods for her education.
We’ve tried Charlotte Mason, Classical Conversations, My Father’s World, as well as a not so well-known curriculum (Accelerated Academics– also known as, A Squared).
Every year I’ve prayed about how best to educate my children; to raise them with a love of learning. Not to just teach them what a typical education would offer them, but expand their horizons.
I pray for the best ways to help teach my children how to learn.
God answers our prayers. He really, truly does.
So far, I’ve discovered that my children don’t learn the same way.
Some of this is age, but some of it is their own personal learning styles.
I also learned that I’m really not a fan of boxed curriculum. The anxiety they induce in me really isn’t helpful for anyone in my family.
Since neither of my children, currently of compulsory age (we live in Virginia, and sadly that age is far younger than I’m happy with–but that is a different post completely), care if they have a pre-designed curriculum or not, I have the freedom to kick that added stress to the curb.
My eldest son (6) loves worksheets and workbooks, but he also loves engaging stories about things he is interested in; he can build amazing creations with Legos, Lincoln Logs, or any of the several mechanically focused building materials he has. He practically taught himself to read, and though he isn’t a fast reader yet, he gets better every day.
Now, this is nothing like how my eldest daughter (11) learns.
She prefers reading great books and discussing them. She works well independently, and finishes the majority of her work without me. If I were to hand her a workbook, we would likely both end up on timeout.
Homeschooling From the Heart
What does it mean to homeschool from the heart?
For our family, that means there is a lot of prayerful thought and consideration for each child. It begins with deciding what we want (or need) to learn during the upcoming year.
This year I read through Plan Your Year, by fellow homeschooling Momma, Pam Barnhill, and that helped me to clarify my vision for our school. You can pick up your copy here.
Since we school year-round, we have quite a lot of freedom in our scheduling, and don’t worry about getting everything covered in 180-days.
We continually cover Bible (and as they get older a focus on Apologetics) Math, Latin, and Language Arts (literature and grammar–depending on the age). Based on the time of year, we also include Sciences, History (my eldest daughter’s favorite subject), Art, Geography, Writing, and Health.
Recently I’ve gone back to a lot of the principles Charlotte Mason taught, and have found a new love for the simple way of teaching and connecting with my children.
While I’m not truly what people would consider a Charlotte Mason educator, I love anything that tells me to share amazing books instead of boring textbooks. My inner bibliophile gets all giddy at the thought.
Another thing about homeschooling from the heart, is making sure you’re truly connecting with the heart of your children.
Each child is an individual, and even though they’re all part of the same family, they won’t always be like you.
My children are very active and social. They thrive being around people.
Since I’m quite introverted I make sure I pay attention to this aspect of their hearts too.
Church Activities and Co-Op
If left to my own devices I would likely never go further than the end of my drive-way. I have everything I need–or can have it delivered.
With four children–three of which love being around other people, I’m never left to my own devices.
I suppose this is for the best.
To insure my children get quality time with other kids of various ages, we participate in Awana every year. This one night a week is generally all I can handle outside Sunday mornings.
However, this is not enough for my brood.
Which leads us to this year, and Co-Op.
The last time I participated in anything Co-Op related, it was CC.
Turns out, that wasn’t really our thing.
My kiddos are definitely excited about joining Co-Op. They’ll be learning things I wouldn’t ordinarily teach them at home.
Plus, there is that ‘socialization’ people outside of homeschool circles worry about.
How We Got Here
As you’ve already read, I spent five years trying to figure out which popular idea or curriculum was the right one. I read everything I could on the different styles and philosophies. I listened to people who swore this curriculum or that curriculum would be the answer for everything.
In short, I didn’t consider who my children are or who I am. I was looking for a one-size fits all way to educate young people who are not only separated by age and gender, but by interests and learning styles.
I didn’t consider how our lives really are.
That we don’t work well within the confines of grid schedules, and endless hours of busy work.
We have interests outside what are generally included in a boxed curriculum, and prefer more flexibility than is given in CC or even in Charlotte Mason.
Philosophies and curriculum are wonderful.
They really are, but they aren’t everything.
You can buy every new curriculum, or try every Co-Op. You can switch philosophies in mid year, or you can just wing it.
The most important thing to remember is that we’re teaching young people to learn.
To experience life.
We must teach the whole child.
Not just parts.
This means knowing their hearts, and knowing ours.
It means teaching manners and etiquette.
Teaching our children that hard work pays off, even if it isn’t in the way we expect. We won’t always get a trophy, and we don’t always need one.
To teach a child from the heart, we must do more than just parrot the newest craze.
We must learn to listen with a discerning heart.
To pray for wisdom so that we don’t fall into the trap of becoming like the world.
For more book recommendations check out this post.
I never claim to know everything there is to know about walking with the LORD, or about the ins and outs of Christianity.
I’m definitely not a professional speaker on theology or the Gospel. I’m still learning many of the stories and people who are the bread and butter of the WORD, and I spend a lot of time worrying how I’ll ever minister to others when I know so little myself.
In an average week I’ll message my dear sister-n-Christ; who has studied the WORD in so many ways, who has an understanding I can only pray to acquire some day, and whose husband is as knowledgeable as she is– just to clear up my own confusion on a concept, verse, or strongly held and shared (whether in church or social media) belief or opinion.
God Has a Plan
Each of us has a gift, divinely appointed to us before we were born. Knowing this is one thing, but trusting in the LORD to peel away the layers and show us is quite another.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I spend too much of my time worrying about how I’m going to do what the LORD calls me to do. I’m called to write and to share, but I waste precious energy each day worrying about finding the words.
I spend too much of my time worrying about how I’m going to do what the LORD calls me to do. I’m called to write and to share, but I waste precious energy each day worrying about finding the words.
Days will pass without me so much as touching a keyboard, or writing anything more profound than a text message about needing to run errands. During these days, I tie myself up in knots over the mere action of NOT writing.
I need to write, to let the LORD do His work through me, but I fight it, because I can’t get out of my own way.
Get Out of the Way
Friends, I’m sure I’m not alone; in a world filled with so many people, I can’t be the only one who has this issue.
We’re all sinners who can’t move past our need for control. We alienate ourselves, because we’re afraid of rejection, afraid of not being “good enough” or “smart enough”. We forget He created us in His image; He created us for a special purpose and will provide us with all the tools we need to be successful.
We forget He created us in His image; He created us for a special purpose and will provide us with all the tools we need to be successful.
His Word Tells Us
It’s time for us to get out of the way and let the LORD take the reins.
With Him beside us, we can move mountains.
Why then are we forever getting in the way and tripping over ourselves?
This is the first time in months I’ve had any desire to write. I fell off the blogging wagon, and when I fall off something I don’t just slip off. Instead I’m as graceful as a ballerina with two left feet and a club leg. I swan dive off that wagon, get my toe caught on the edge and end up belly flopping down a rocky embankment, landing with a gooey splash in the slimy remnants of a paper mill’s runoff.
It takes talent.
The last several months have all kind of run together. There haven’t been individual 24-hour days, but what seemed to be 336-hour days. This made blogging a vague and distant memory for me.
I can’t say the past few months were bad, things just weren’t as bright or obvious to me as they had been. It could have been my SAD acting up, or it could have been the rapidly changing events in my personal and family life.
2015 was definitely a challenge. There were days when I felt tested beyond what I could handle, but during those days I turned to the LORD, and remembered to breathe again.
Rinse and Repeat.
A year ago I shared what word I would prayerfully focus my life on during the 365 days of 2015. That word, Fellowship, showed me things about myself I didn’t know, and brought me happiness as well as some discomfort. God used that word to change me from the inside out. Not all of those changes came easily or without frustration, but they came when I needed them and have made me a better(if not slightly more exhausted) person.
2016 is a brand new year. This time with 366 days (Hello, Leap Year!) to look for and experience the blessings the LORD has planned for each one of us.
This year, the LORD has put the word, JOY, on my heart. With the sadness of my father’s passing last year, there were times when looking for the joy in things seemed foreign. 2016 is the year where through prayer, worship, and study I will search out and learn from all the Joy available in my life. I will embrace the feeling, share the light, and remember even during the darkest hours of the longest night, the Joy of our Savior is there for me to grab hold of.
Take a few moments today and prayerfully ask the LORD to guide you to a word that will change your focus this year. May the LORD bless you and yours this year.
“May the God of hope fill you with all Joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The other day I was watching my son play on the floor. He’d head for a toy, then suddenly veer a different direction and go for something else. His ten-month-old attention span got me thinking about my own attention span.
Especially when it comes to Faith.
This journey I’m on is different than anything I’ve experienced before. In a very real way, I’m an infant in my relationship with Jesus. I find myself crawling toward one idea, then something else catches my attention and I follow that.
There are times I wish I were more focused, and didn’t jump from idea to idea, and thought to thought; I am doing this for the right reasons, and I’m doing it with God before me, not behind me.
I am taking my cues from Him.
It seems to be working out well, so far.
Some days are harder than others. There are days where, like my son I fall down and land on my butt. On those days I do just what he does, and I get up and try again.
I Know the LORD is There for Me
Just like I will always be there to help my son up, or make him feel better when he is hurt or scared, I know the LORD is there for me. Loving me, caring for me, and silently giving me strength to make it through life. I might be crawling still when it comes to my faith, and I may crawl in circles at times, but I never stop moving or trusting He will be there to lift me up when I need it.