I really admire you for homeschooling your daughter. I wish I could do that with my kids!”
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard those words, I’d have enough to take myself out to Starbucks a few times! Neighborhood moms often shake their heads when they learn of our homeschool status. Some moms look at me as if I’ve suddenly grown another nose. Others confide that they would be all over homeschooling if, like me, they were trained teachers or had the slightest inkling of what to do.
The purpose of today’s blog is encourage these moms who may be toying with the idea of homeschooling. If this is you, then please know that I have been praying over this blog — and you — for a few weeks now. My wish is to give you something to ponder.
You are already homeschooling successfully.
Does your child know how to tie his shoes? Does he speak? Is she able to use a fork? What about making the bed or putting away clothes or singing the ABCs? Parents are their children’s teachers from the get-go. We teach them to say “Mama” and “Dada.” And they learn! Your kids’ brains are wired to learn. They are like little impressionable sponges. What goes into their heads in the elementary years helps shape the people they will become.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
There are large cities in this great nation of ours where nearly sixty percent of high school students fail to graduate. In the Dallas ISD, the graduation rate hovers around 50%. Nationwide, 30% of high school students do not graduate. I think this statistic says more about the schools themselves than about the students. Wisdom is NOT being taught in public schools in America anymore, period. Students are learning how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. They learn how to write a five paragraph essay. They may learn that the ulna and radius are the two bones in the lower arm and that the outer layer of skin is called the epidermis. But they will not learn wisdom.
Why? Because public schools do not teach the fear of the Lord.
If you choose to trust your child’s education to the state, then understand that he or she will spend 16,900 hours under someone else’s authority than the Lord’s over the course of kindergarten through twelfth grade. This means that, as a Christian, it is entirely up to you to teach your children to fear the Lord, and thus start them down the road to wisdom. If you are homeschooling, you have a 16,900 hour head-start in which to do it.
Homeschool curriculums are prolific
There are so many outstanding curriculum programs for homeschool out there that the difficulty lies not in finding them, but in finding the ones that suit you and your children. Many of them are simply modified curriculums that were written for Christian schools, such as Abeka and Bob Jones. Others, such as My Father’s World and Sonlight, were specifically written from the ground-up for homeschool families. Teaching Textbooks is a math curriculum specially made for homeschools, while Saxon Math is successfully used in public schools, private schools, and now homeschools. Homeschool Book Fairs are held all over the country and are a wonderful resource to new and veteran homeschool families. Publishers bring samples of their books; many bring entire sets and families buy at the book fair so they can avoid shipping charges. With the plethera of resources available, not to mention the (free) local library, there is no limit to the quality of education a homeschool parent can provide. Many curriculum programs include teacher’s guides which break down the subject into daily and weekly readings and activities; the Saxon math program even provides a script for the parent to read aloud in the early grades.
If you can read this blog, you have the ability to homeschool.
No one knows your child — or loves him — better than you and the Lord.
You raised your child and know without a doubt that he is going to someday work with his hands. He fidgets even while watching television and taps his foot when he reads. A child like this often suffers in a traditional classroom setting because large class sizes mean kids need to conform to a set of rules — such as sitting still. Maybe your child is very immature and is just not “getting” the reading thing. It could be that she just isn’t developmentally ready yet. I know a twelve year old who has recently finished reading The Lord of the Rings. He did not know how to read until he was TEN…and now, two years later, he is reading books that some adults have trouble comprehending. How is this possible? His homeschool mom read to him and taught him, and one day, when he was ready, something “clicked” in his brain.
Of course, sometimes children have challenges which go beyond our ability to help. As taxpayers, homeschoolers in Texas and Florida have the right to request that local school districts perform educational diagnostic testing. Private firms also provide diagnostic testing. The great thing is, if a challenge is noted, the homeschool parent is in a much better place to address the concerns than a teacher who has twenty five other students to teach. A friend of mine had suspicions when her third grader had over-the-top problems in spelling, and she initiated diagnostic testing. When she learned her child had dyslexia, she was able to connect with a therapist who meets with them twice a week and helps her know the best way to teach. As a homeschool parent, she is in the driver’s seat.
Flexibility is key
If you choose to homeschool, you get to be the principal, the teacher, and the student! If your children are night owls, let them stay up late and start school at 10. If you are early risers, you may get finished with school by noon. The only field trips you will be required to attend are the ones you plan, and you can make them be about whatever subject you happen to be studying or about whatever has sparked interest in learning. If your kids get sick, you don’t have to worry about make-up work or about information they may have missed in class because, as teacher, you can postpone class a day or two until they are feeling better. A homeschool family doesn’t have to take family vacations during the fiery summer; they can visit Florida during the off-season and save lots of money! The photo above is my daughter when we took an out-of-town trip. She found that interesting tree while we were on a walk and just had to investigate!
Support groups are everywhere
They are coming out of the woodwork — homeschool support groups are all over the place on the national, state, and local levels. The Home School Legal Defense Association is a support group and a legal resource; members receive free legal assistance if circumstances demand it. For example, sometimes school districts don’t know their state laws about homeschooling, and they contact a homeschool parent and demand that Billy attend school or be cited for truancy. The HSLDA keeps track of state laws throughout the nation. Often all it takes to resolve issues with local school districts is a brief phone call from one of the attorneys employed by the HSLDA. It’s nice to know they are there if I ever needed them!
On the local level, support groups range from mom’s meetings to co-ops. Classical Conversations is a fast-growing community nation-wide that strives to teach classical education with a biblical worldview. Students and moms attend class and learn techniques together. Children get valuable social interaction and academic competition as they compete with their peers — and their parents — in academic contests. Some co-ops are taught by parents; others are taught by certified teachers. Most meet once a week, although some meet twice a week and others meet only monthly.
If you are home during the day…if you have wistfully wished you could homeschool…you CAN. The Lord is there to help you, and so am I, and so are many others who are willing to share their expertise and knowledge with you. Please feel free to leave a comment if you’d like more information on how to get started. If I don’t know the answer for your state, I’ll at least find out where to go to get them.
My prayer is that a remnant of our population will achieve wisdom and not simply knowledge…through a fear of the Lord and an understanding of his ways and his overwhelming love.