Friday, June 29, 2012

If You Think You Want to Home-school...

I will be adding my second child to the home-school classroom this fall.
He is 5, and although I have not taught him anything yet,
he can count to 100,
write his name (albeit rather roughly)
knows all the sounds of the letters,
and is sounding out books,
such as Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham.

I have educational games and his older sister plays school with him:
this largely thank for all of the said accomplishments.
(I am not saying this to brag: only to share that home-schooling is not as hard as it is feared to be.)
He is, by no means, an advanced child.
In fact, when he was a toddler, I wondered if he was somewhat autistic.
He is very distracted, deliberate, 
and seems to falter on things that seem clearly normal to me.

I have several friends who are looking into home-schooling their growing breed
of tiny folk.
I remember how scared I was going into it,
not certain I would be up to the task.

So, I sat down and analyzed my home-schooling trail so far:
some coming from observation of others along the way,
some from my own high-school years of being home-schooled,
some from what I've learned with Violet so far.
I decided to share some things I would like to have known
if I had started out without any of it.

1.  Know why you are home-schooling,
 and remind yourself often.

Being a gardener has taught me much,
not just about plants,
but about life.

Anything in life that we value,
we put time and work into.
Precious things need care and protection.

A seedling must be put into soil that is conducive to growth.
It must be weed-free.
It must receive the proper amount of sun, nutrients, and water
or it will die.

Children are no different.
They enter life like a blank slate:
they know nothing except how to make you know when they are uncomfortable or comfortable.

I home-school for various reasons,
but the basic reason is this:

I want to control what my children learn.


There are so many opinions, philosophies, motivations in life.

My motivation for all of life is to please God and do what He wants,
to give thanks to Him no matter what my circumstances,
to obey His commands and trust Him.
Clearly, I am far from attaining, but this is my life goal.

I do not see this pathway being directed to children in public schools.
 My children are my treasures,
 and I cannot afford to offer my most valuable gifts to something or someone 
who will not care for, protect, and guide my children
the way the Bible directs.

The bottom line is,
 I cannot in good conscience submit my child to the classroom
or even the teaching
of the public school system.
To do so would be against the core of what I believe.

On days when I am tired or having difficulty getting my child to understand how to multiply fractions
or that Pharaoh is spelled with a "ph" instead of an "f" and is spelled with an 
"ao" instead of an "oe",
I have to remind myself of the big picture of why I home-school.

Sometimes, on hard days,
I have to remind myself this several times a day.

But I know why I do what I do,
and I take it as a serious responsibility.

2. Choose your curriculum wisely.

Days are gone when a home-schooler was a rarity.
The choices of home-school curriculum are not only abundant,
they are downright overwhelming.
Everybody has her favorite,
and it is incredibly hard not to push that favorite.

But everybody is different.
Find out what you want in schooling and why you want it.
What is your philosophy?
Then find the curriculum that makes that happen.

Do you want your child to be advanced and super intelligent?
(Think about this and why).
Do you want your child to enjoy what they are learning?
(Again, why?)
Do you want to have a broad education that includes many subjects and extra-curricular activities?
(What reasons for this?)
Do you want to cover the basics and then zero in on what your child has interests in?
(What benefits to this?)

Get a pen out and pray and write the answers to these questions.

What do you want from schooling your child?

I hated workbooks when I was a child.
I hated learning the bold-print facts.
Yes, I may remember a few,
but I remember, by far, the story books that I read about people.

Harriet Beecher Stowe - the preacher's daughter who could not do nothing
 during a time when slavery was accepted,
 so she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin which awakened people to it's ugly reality in advance of the Civil War.

 Thomas Alvin Edison - the inventer, "fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, inventor of the phonograph, motion-picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical light bulb."  And yet, as a little boy, he was not so much to think of.  "In school, the young Edison's mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him 'addled'. This ended Edison's three months of official schooling. Edison recalled later, 'My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.' 
His mother taught him at home."

Wikipedia from the source: "Edison Family Album"

Robert E. Lee- the great Christian general,
caught in the middle of loyalty to his state,
 and his beliefs about not dividing the US
as well as his apparent opposition to slavery;

an incredible champion, even in the face of defeat.

a man respected by his fellows on both sides of the war.

Sacagawea - kidnapped and married to a stranger,
stolen from the native American tribe of her family,
a woman who chose to live life well, despite her situations,
a woman who spent her days doing what she may not have wanted to do
but making the most of it.
The effect that she had, in traveling with Lewis and Clark,
not only to help guide and be an interpreter,
but also a symbol of peace to the people they met up with along the way,
contributed to generations to come the way no other could have.  

George Washington Carver - born into slavery but rising out of it to change the world. 
  A devoted Christian scientist,
Carver was often heard to say "The Lord has guided me," and "Without my Savior, I am nothing."

"He asked God to reveal to him the secrets of the universe,"
 Tuskegee University's Frank J. Toland said. 
"God's response to him was that his mind was too small to perceive that."
To that Carver replied,
 "Then teach me the mysteries of the peanut."
He said,
"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station,
 through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."

 He created over 300 uses for peanuts
and 100 for sweet potatoes;
Carver was a man who used plants to help people
during a time when these discoveries were essential for their survival,
he encouraged farming that would improve the soil,
he gave his life to share his studies,
he changed the shape of the world
through something as simple as a peanut.

 Adolf Hitler-a boy who didn't get a long with his father, 
a lad who lost his little brother which left him depressed ,
a young man who clung to his mother 
but lost her to breast cancer while under the care of a Jewish doctor,
 a failed artist rejected twice from art school.
Instead of looking to God, who created all of mankind equally,
he chose hatred,
 a prideful anger of superiority,
 a view that man could chose who should live
and who should die,
what life was worth living,
and what life was not.
He pushed for a government to have full control of individuals and all that they owned.
Hitler let his bitterness at life and circumstances
 twist his mind

to devastate people all over the world.

From the books I poured over in my school days,
I gained a knowledge that we all have one life to live,
a choice to live for God and be used to do great things in our own way,
or a choice to live selfishly apart from God, the consequences of which could wreak 
horrendous evils on ourselves and many others.

I could go on with the details about these and others that I read about in books
far more than the isolated dates and terms I memorized about Magellan, Marco Polo,
and the chart of scientific elements.
Granted, terms and dates are important in the overall scheme
 and as a general knowledge base,
but the appreciation one receives from reading about people and history,
make their contributions to the world
come alive.

If your goal in home-schooling is to pack your children's days with terms, intelligence,
impressive overload of "look how smart my home-schooler is,"
if you think you need to teach them everything there is to know
in the few years you have with them,
you may be left with the many I see who go this route:
burnt out and loading them up to send to school
because they are as overwhelmed
 or as bored to tears as their pupils are.

Find something you love as well as your children,
and you'll both learn heaps of valuable lessons
while making wonderful memories learning.

3. Talk to other home-school moms.

My facebook message box is full of messages to other home-school moms.

I am nosey by nature
but I am also determined to find things that I love
 or I know will suit the personality types of my children.
Each child is different.
Violet excels at math and reading
but her spelling and grammar were atrocious.

I asked around to as many home-school mothers as I could
about their choices in spelling and grammar
and why,
and if there was improvement,
what the curriculum required.

I want my children not to be hindered by anything they set out to do for God
and I want to fully equip them to that end,
but I want the least resistance possible in the process.

It takes work and time
and contacting people who I don't even know for inpute,
but I have made invaluable friendships by doing so.
What better way to acquire information than from somebody who has been in the trenches?
The sisterhood of home-schooling presents an excessive concentration
of welcome gab.

Home-school mothers, in general, love to talk about home-schooling
well, let's face it,
we're all swimming around in this pool of 
"gotta get it done right"
and we're all constantly learning everyday.

Sometimes I think that is why God have us basic guidelines for training up our children
but left the rest open.
His will for us is to seek wisdom
and ask for it
(James 1).
He gives the grace that we need for each day.
"And he said unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
II Corinthians 12:9

(To be continued).

(Thanks to my mom for letting me use pictures of her gardens.
Next time I will finish using pictures from my Mother-in-law's gardens).


  1. You really need to write a book or two or three! :) I would buy them. :) What you write is always interesting. Think about it. :)

  2. I'm dyslexic and had my mother homeschooled me my reading would have been further delayed as she obviously was not trained in picking up learning disabilities nor remediating for them. I am all for homeschooling if you are fully qualified, but public schools do a world of good for many many children.
    They are not the enemy.

    SoLongFarm.blogspot and former Teacher and former follower

    1. I certainly wasn't trying to demean teachers in my post. Being a teacher myself, I know how hard and demanding it is; I can only imagine how difficult it must be to teach a classroom full. My intention in writing this post was to write to those who are interested in home-schooling. It is a serious undertaking and I don't believe it is for everybody. But it is for anybody who feels strongly that it is important enough to do and is willing to be committed to doing it. Difficulties are sure to come: disabilities, frustrations, etc, but there are always tutors and tips and books to read: ways to conquer. While I admire teachers and think they have hearts of gold for their work and certainly see teaching as a mission field, I do not appreciate the blatant rejection of God and His ways that our schools have taken. It is not the enemy, of course, but anything can be a tool for wrong. Having attended the public school in my primary years, I know first hand the attacks I faced when I questioned evolution with the belief of creation. This, for me, is too serious to let pass. The Bible says that "the Fool has said in his heart that there is no God." Ps. 14:1 To take God out of school, and the ten commandments as well, was to doom the schools to a fool's education. Certainly 2 + 2 is an absolute and will always be 4, but there are other variables in teaching: history and science for example, that can have totally different approaches with/without God in them. Hitler said, 'He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future!' Schooling is a very important feature in a child's life. I have many friends/acquaintances at my church who are young mothers considering the educational paths of their children in the near future. I felt very strongly that God wanted me to write this post on their behalf, to offer what I felt God has given me in my life to hopefully benefit others. I am always glad to read other posts that encourage me in the face of fears or when I need advice. That was my sole purpose in this post: to encourage and to make people think.
      Thank you, Ang, for being willing to post your thoughts on this in a kind way, and even putting your name there. Negative anonymous comments always bug me a little, because they do not have a face or a name. Discussion or differences are much better when kept on a basis of real people, coming from different backgrounds, honestly but kindly approaching another for the purpose of clearing the air. I know not everyone will agree, and that is life as we know it. So thank you for expressing your view in a nice way.

  3. Thanks for this interesting and thought-provoking post. I enjoyed reading it.


  4. great post. This is for Ang, my granddaughter is severely dyslexic. Her mother found a program just suited for her & she has improved immensely in just 1 year. She could not have received this one on one attention in a class full of other children.

  5. Thank you for writing this. My son is 3 and I'm really nervous about homeschooling. I know why I want to do it and I know why my husband wants me to do it. They are exactly the same so we will have to figure out how to make our philosophy's work together but having this post to help me figure out some questions to be thinking of will really help me get ready to start the homeschooling in our house in the next few years.

  6. What a wonderful, thought-provoking post. Wish I had home schooled my now-grown boys.

  7. I'm a teacher but have very high respect for parents who homeschool. As long as your children are getting interactions with others on a regular basis, I think it's a fantastic idea. I enjoy your blog and live a little vicariously through you!

  8. Home Schooling wasn't too much in vogue when my kids were little...or else I just never heard of it much.

    I often wish I could HS my Grandlittles. Public school seems pretty scary sometimes!

    Your zucchini made me think of baked zuke chips! Gosh we love those!

    What a great post!

  9. Visiting for the first time! Great post! I am a homeschooling Mom to 3...and in September we will begin our 9th year! I understand where Ang is coming from. I am a certified K-8 public school teacher who focused mostly on middle school special ed. There are advantage to being public schooled for kids with challenges, but I also feel even stronger that NOTHING can replace a Mom on a mission! LOL I have a son with a neurological disorder. It's a challenge for him on many levels, including reading like Ang, and I have a daughter with "mild" Dyslexia. I don't have special training, but I believe 100% my loving support, research and talking with an OT, and one-on-one guidance will turn my little guy and young lady into solid readers and writers. The available outside support for homeschoolers with special challenges is in abundance now! But what it comes down to is choice in my opinion: Whatever school situation works best for each child is what should be matter how it's done or where.

  10. Great post! Even though I am not a homeschooling mom, I love reading tips like this so that I can incorporate them into my home life. Be blessed. :) Lauren

  11. A wonderful and thoughtful post! Thank you! I have bookmarked it, so that I can come back and read it again!


I love your comments!