What You Should Know to Homeschool

I. Know what true education is

A. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition of education: The bringing up of a child…education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.

B. Christian home education has the potential to be the best living demonstration and fulfillment of the above definition.

II. Know yourself

A. Know your own strengths and weaknesses.

1. Use your strengths to enhance your children’s education.

2. Do not let your weaknesses be a point of discouragement, but a challenge to overcome.

B. Know what qualifies you to be homeschooling parents.

1. Are you willing to develop, nurture, and exhibit a Godly attitude and example?

a. Education begins with the parent, not the child.

b. What you do speaks louder than what you say.

2. Are you willing to learn yourself?

a. You’re in God’s school of character training.

b. You will learn many things along with your children.

3. Are you willing to make education a priority?

a. Schedule your day in order to accomplish your priorities—education must now be one of them.

b. Commit yourself to at least one full year. There will be failures and successes; give yourself time to work out the difficulties.

4. Are you willing to do what it takes to be successful?

a. “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished… and began recognizing them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)

III. Know your children

A. What are their strengths and weaknesses?

1. Teach to their strengths (interests, learning styles).

2. Be aware that their weaknesses will cause frustration for both of you (short attention span, undeveloped skills).

B. A child’s likes and dislikes can be used as rewards and consequences.

C. Set limits and establish rules for family and school time behavior.

1. Know how to effectively control your children.

2. If you have less respect and control than you would like, homeschooling may be the opportunity to gain control through consistency.

D. Watch for signs of frustration in your child such as crying, complaining, or becoming angry.

1. Frustration tends to be manifested when too much time is taken to accomplish a task (example: never completing library books may indicate the reading level is too difficult).

2. Areas of frustration (math or language arts, for example) are obvious when a skill is undeveloped (learning gaps) and a child has difficulty accomplishing a given task.

IV. Know what you really want to accomplish

A. Write down yearly goals for each child. This makes it more real, shows you’re serious, gets you organized, and helps you focus.

1. Include character goals: attitudes, character qualities, obedience, etc.

2. Set academic goals: educational objectives for each subject.

3. Develop goals for physical skills: eye-hand coordination, baseball, piano, etc.

4. Establish work skills and habits: clean room, pick up, make bed, household chores, or yard work.

B. Establish a monthly plan, divide textbooks into appropriate sections, break down yearly goals for each area.

C. Set a weekly plan using a teacher plan book.

D. Have a daily schedule and predictable routine to accomplish your goals.

1. Add field trips and special projects.

2. Record library books that have been read.

V. Know how to maintain your schedule

A. Know the balance between organization and flexibility.

1. Have a plan and work it, but expect interruptions.

2. Don’t compromise time spent teaching the basic skill subjects and Bible.

B. Establish a workable routine.

1. A regular eating, sleeping, working, and school routine will give security to your children.

2. Schedule visits, appointments, special activities, shopping, etc., for the afternoons, when optimal learning time has passed.

C. Eliminate frustrations.

1. Make time for yourself.

a. A quiet time before the children get up will set the tone for your day.

b. A fifteen-to-twenty-minute reading break or rest time in the afternoon will give you added energy for the remainder of the day.

2. Don’t answer the phone during school time; turn it off or get an answering machine.

3. Before teaching begins, take care of the things that bother you most: dirty dishes in the sink, unmade beds, or laundry. With these things accomplished your mind will be clear to focus on needed academics.

VI. Know how to prepare

A. Pray. “…they that seek the Lord understand all things.” (Proverbs 28:25).

1. The husband and wife should be in agreement.

2. Seek direction for decisions concerning the law and curricula.

B. Read and research the topic of homeschooling.

1. Buy an HEAV Virginia Homeschool Manual. Know the state requirements before contacting school officials.

2. Subscribe to a homeschooling magazine (Homeschooling Today, Practical Homeschooling, Home School Digest, etc.)

3. Read as many of the following books as possible:

a. The How and Why of Home Schooling by Ray Ballmann

b. For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

c. Schoolproof, The Big Book of Home Learning, and other books by Mary Pride

d. Home Grown Kids, Home Style Discipline, Home Style Teaching, Home School Burnout and others by Dr. Raymond Moore

e. You Can Teach Your Child Successfully and math, language arts, and reading booklets by Dr. Ruth Beechick

f. Teaching Children by Diane Lopez

g. Curriculum Guides by Cathy Duffy

h. A Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling by Luanne Shackelford and Susan White

i. Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax

j. Home Schooling: The Right Choice by Christopher Klicka

VII. Know some secrets of success

A. Start your day with God.

B. Be patient—with your children and yourself.

C. Stay teachable—you’ll be tested in new areas.

D. Be flexible—don’t bring the classroom environment into your home.

E. Use your family resources—older children can help younger children, and grandparents can participate in special interest areas.

F. Develop good relationships with neighbors, grandparents and relatives.

1. Are you perceived as being friendly and open?

2. Do your children respect others and their property?

G. Have Dad choose a subject in which he can be involved two to three evenings a week or early mornings before work.

H. Pray with your husband about your frustrations and needs.

VIII. Know some common mistakes

A. “There is only one way to homeschool.”

1. Children have different types of learning styles.

2. You can’t treat every child alike.

3. Methods may change with the age and needs of your child.

4. Your friend who homeschools may seem to have the perfect situation and use the best curriculum, but your family is not the same, and their curriculum may not work for you.

B. “Homeschooling is the best thing that has happened to our family, and everyone who is a responsible parent should teach at home.”

1. Glorifying homeschooling is not necessary.

2. Be realistic. It will require changes in a family’s lifestyle and time commitments.

3. Commit yourself to following God’s direction for your own family and encourage others to find God’s will for their families.

C. “This is the way I was taught. It worked for me so it will work for them.”

1. Failure to keep learning enjoyable can cause your children to lose interest in education.

2. Overly serious parents prevent the joy of discovery.

3. Overly structured parents often stifle exploration and the development of personal interests.

4. Make learning fun and be enthusiastic about it yourself!

D. “Now why did I think this was such a good idea last year?”

1. Keep your vision by reviewing the goals you first established.

2. Don’t be distracted by your children’s (teens’) lack of purpose and direction.

3. Because a young person doesn’t have the wisdom and experience to make important life decisions during the teen years, he should not be the one who determines the kind of education he receives. God gave fathers as heads of families the responsibility to direct their children, not vice versa.

4. Parents, be careful of peer pressure yourself. Don’t seek the approval and acceptance of others. Do what is right for you and be willing to stand alone.