We had made the decision to homeschool before we attended the AFHE Homeschool Convention. But if we had been undecided, what we heard/saw/learned/experienced would absolutely have made up our minds to do it.
I scribbled random notes throughout a series of talks and gathered too many informative brochures from dozens of helpful booths/tables. The kids played with all kinds of hands-on toys and tools and we all walked away with a newly-opened mind about the opportunities in the world of homeschooling.
I can’t possibly share everything I learned, but for the purpose of my own sanity (and shabby record-keeping skills) here is a random list of some of what I have jotted down in my little orange notebook.
Disclaimer: This is just what I heard – not necessarily a list of what I believe/am doing with our kids. I don’t agree with 100% of this!
- What’s my motivation for homeschooling? (Character/Discipleship – THEN Academics. Love the Lord, then each other.)
- Have a vision for the end result for each child – Know WHY we are doing this. Our goal setting should be for big and small goals.
- Learn each of my children’s individual motivations, desires, giftings, weaknesses, etc.
- Think differently – less busy work. // Teach TO their passions – know who your kids are.
- Arizona is an “inform only” state – we just need to file an avadavit for ages 6-16 stating that we are taking responsibility for our child’s education. (This is very good news, many states are extremely stringent).
- Develop a servant-hearted focus in our children. Take the kids to help in many areas (meals, childcare, serve the elderly – “adopt” elderly)
- Kids SHOULD surpass my education – I am not holding them back and I shouldn’t be threatened when they do surpass me.
- Teach “do’s”, not just the “don’t’s” – teach the right choice before you have to teach the wrong choice.
- Foundation of my homeschool should be the Bible. Then related character-development studies. Supplement Bible teaching with audio Bible at naps and nighttime. Good character studies – “Kids of Character” by Marilyn Boyer, “Character Trails”
- Education = Discipleship. (Someone will be discipling them if I’m not…)
- Character comes before Curriculum… Marriage before Mothering. EVERY TIME.
- Nurture your marriage. Never sacrifice your marriage on the altar of home education.
- Know learning styles (MINE learning style helps me pick the curriculum, My child’s learning style helps me implement it). Aud/Vis/Tactile.
- You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone – fruit takes time. Don’t explain yourself.
- Socialization: Your kids will be as weird as you are, regardless of educational environment.
SUBJECT TIPS/IDEAS (according to one presenter)
- Handwriting: Small amount daily, do it well. Fix one letter at a time. Practice in sentences, not paragraphs (until closer to junior high).
- Math: 10-12 problems a day, small number – focus on understanding concept, not quantity of problems. 15 minutes a day max, unless they ask for more.
- Grammar: Wait until third grade. It’s wasted time before that. (The basic rules of grammar are learned at younger ages through reading, anyway!)
- History/Social Studies: One year per period, largely through biographies. Kids retain STORIES. “Portraits of Integrity”. Our family history. Community and Church.
- Bible: Most important, hands down. Lots of options in approaches: Character Traits. OT or NT overview. Book Focus. Person Study. Keep it short for little kiddos (Idea: Prayer 2-3 minutes, Bible 3-5 minutes, Worship 3-4 minutes). Prayer chart for days of the week/topics. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Other ministry ideas: Church, Missionary Letters, Food Pantries, Greeting Cards, Hospitality meals, etc.
- Reading: Kids need to watch dads reading, too. Signs they are ready to read: Ask what letters are, Pretend “reads”, Memorizes books and thinks she’s reading, Picks out letters on signs. Also: Keep reading out loud even when they can read. Books to buy: Read Aloud Handbook (Jim Trelease), Honey for a Child’s Heart (?), Books Children Love (Elizabeth Wilson).
- Science: Real life ROCKS. Gravity. Temperature. Weather. Chemicals. Plants/Animals. Earth/Moon/Plants/Stars. Lots of experiment books from library. Is 28:10.
- Traditional: Alpha Omega/ABeka. Textbooks, Workbooks, Grade Levels.
- Classical: Mystery of History/Tap it Grace/Story of the World. Literature, History, Dorothy Sayers was pioneer. “The Well Trained Mind”.
- Living Books: Charlotte Mason/Sonlight. Literature rich, Daily variance, Narration, Picture studies.
- Unit Studies: Konos/5 In a Row. Integrate discipline together – thematic studies. (Typically need to supplement as kids grow older).
- Unschooling: Natural life experiences, Child-led education.
- Ecclectic Approach: All of the above.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
“Successful” = The prosperous/favorable termination of anything attempted.
- Must follow God. Follow his requirements (not government’s) for raising HIS kids. Ps 92:13… plant kids in the house of God. Address character first. “What good is it to win the National Spelling Bee and then go to hell?” Pray seriously for insight into my child’s weaknesses. DON’T cut out Scripture if the day is full… it’s too easy. Involve your kids in worship and watching their DAD in worship. Watch out for too many rules/giving the impression the Christian faith is just a bunch of rules.
- Keep your marriage strong. Romans 9: A woman is mutually bound to her husband (not to her kids!). Children are a part of the home/family, they learn as we circle around the Lord. Let the kids see marriage at work – incorporate them into the way we serve our spouse. Submission in action – not when he’s right, but when he’s wrong. Planned time away – very important.
- Look after your household. 1 Timothy 5:14. Run your home – in order – we are a witness. It’s ok to take time before guests visit (or husband comes home). In order to homeschool, it’s helpful to actually BE home. Don’t be so busy you are gone all the time – 3 or 4 whole days a week.
- Be professional. Proberbs 10:4. Homeschooling is a business – this is “what I do” – act accordingly. It’s my PROFESSION. Get to bed early. One on one time with kids – keep your commitments to them like business appointments.
- Be flexible. 2 Timothy 4:2 – be ready in season and out. Plan A usually isn’t going to work. 🙂
- Choose curriculum wisely. There is a lot of junk out there. Less is More. Spiritual development, reading, writing, math… the rest will come. Ask yourself three questions: 1) Does it overwhelm me? 2) Does it fit our learning style? 3) Am I choosing it out of fear?
- Step by Step. Children learn slowly. If it seems fast, it is because they have been stewing on something for a while.
- Stand Firm. 1 Chron 22:18. Don’t forget there is an enemy prowling around seeking whom he can devour – and your kids are kind of on the list. Getting attacked spiritually doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing the wrong thing. It often means you are doing exactly the right thing.
- Enjoy your children. And your spouse. And your life. Merry heart – sense of humor.
- Trust God. Ps 118:8-9. Heart. Following requires obedience. What’s my goal? To see God’s pleasure at my kids’ lives.
At lunch we talked to some random families about their suggestions/experiences and everyone echoed the same sentiment: Take it easy in kindergarten. Don’t over schedule or over-do curriculum. Let every day experiences be your guide and your child’s natural curiosity will lead the way. There are plenty of years for formal curriculum and “making” them do stuff.
Really and truly, it was a wonderful experience. It gave us discussion points and helped us really get on the same page as we jumped into the start of this insane new adventure. I still can’t believe we are doing this…!