“I think I want to homeschool my kids, but where do I even start?”
If I’ve heard this question once I’ve heard it a million times. Parents feel the push/nudge/calling to homeschool but then feel completely lost on what to do next. They get stuck in the ‘it sounds great in theory’ stage because they don’t know what to do. I was there myself 4 years ago! Worry no more! My Homeschooling 101 series will walk you through the steps to start your homeschooling journey!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to homeschool, we first need to take some time to develop a love for it. There are 5 simple steps to creating a foundation of love for your homeschooling journey.
Before undertaking ANYTHING important in life your first step should always be to PRAY. Pray, then pray again, then pray some more. Pray with your spouse. Ask others to pray for and with you. Pray for wisdom. Pray for peace. Pray for guidance. Pray for provision. Prayer is necessary and vital. There is nothing in the world that can be made better, clearer, or more successful without its power.
Homeschooling is wonderful and exciting, but it is also a big decision and an even bigger responsibility. Praying for God’s guidance will always be the most important first step. As Christians we know the importance of keeping God at the center of everything we do and homeschooling shouldn’t be an exception to that. Even after you make the initial decision to homeschool you will have countless more choices to make. What curriculum will you use? Should you join a co-op? What’s the best schedule to keep? Will you have tea on the hard days or hot cocoa? Okay, maybe that last question you can answer without prayer, but otherwise, you should be seeking God’s will in all things. Here are some key things to pray about as you set out on your homeschooling journey.
- Wisdom– There will be so many choices to make as you travel this road. As with most aspects of parenting, many of the decisions you make will have a lasting impact. You will have decisions about curriculum, about schedules, about discipline, about teaching techniques, about what extra curricular activities to join and how to fit them into your schedule and budget. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Pray that God will show you His plans for your family and your homeschooling. Pray that God will give you the wisdom to choose the right path.
- Discernment– When you choose to homeschool there are suddenly so many voices calling out to you. There are the voices of relatives who feel they know what is best for your children. There are the voices of society members who feel that parents aren’t equipped to properly educate their children. There is the voice of Satan whispering lies about your worth. There are the voices of people trying to sell you all the magic answers and secret formulas for becoming the perfect parent and homeschooler. Then there is the voice of God calling to you, guiding you, encouraging you, and telling you He loves you. John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” Let this be your prayer. Pray that you will you will hear God’s voice, be able to differentiate it from all the the voices clamoring for your attention, choose to listen to God’s voice, and follow Him.
- Patience– Patience is vital. You will need patience to get you through days with bad attitudes and struggles with long division. You will need patience to push through lessons or subjects that you don’t enjoy. You will need patience to hold on during the hard days so you can get through to the other side with the fantastic ‘aha’ moments. In Ephesians 4:2 it says, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Remember that God calls us to homeschool as much to teach and change us as He does to teach and change our children, and to allow us to strengthen our individual relationships with Him as well as with each other. Since we’re all human, this isn’t going to go perfectly. Pray for God to give you the patience to be loving and gentle as you build stronger relationships with your children while simultaneously educating them.
- Endurance– Hebrews 12: 1-2a says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” While there are families who only plan to homeschool for a year or two, the vast majority of homeschooling families choose it as a long-term option. It is a decision we make in faith after hearing God call us to do it. Homeschooling as a long-term lifestyle is going to require endurance. There will be amazing and joyful days to celebrate, there will be hard days to push through, there will be seasons where life’s circumstances make thing homeschooling complicated. Sometimes even fantastic and exciting things can seem overwhelming when you think about making them work over time (parenting itself is like this for most of us). Pray for God to give you a long-term vision and endurance to stay on the path He has called you to.
- Joy– In Romans 15:13 Paul wrote, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Pray this verse over your homeschool. Pray for the God of all creation to fill you with joy. Pray to experience the joy and hope that is based not on the successes and failures of each individual day, but on Christ’s saving grace. Pray to be filled to overflowing with that joy, so much so that it flows out of you and onto your husband and children. Anchor yourself to the unfailing joy that comes from Christ alone.
- Love– One of the best aspects of homeschooling is that it gives you extra time to build strong relationships in the family. We have more time to spend together, which means we have more time to get to know, serve, and love each other. Ephesians 5: 1-2 says, “1Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved usa and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Pray for God to give you his love for your husband and children, and for your husband and children to have God’s love for the rest of the family. Pray for God to give you opportunities and ways to love each other the way that God loved us, most especially with a serving and sacrificial love.
Figure out your ‘why’
While you are praying, pray for God to show you WHY he wants you to homeschool. Major life decisions are best made with careful consideration instead of on a whim. Plus, when days get hard (and any time you are a parent, there WILL be hard days), focusing on your ‘why’ can be vital to keep you from finding the closest school and enrolling your kids. Not that I’ve ever Googled my local school or anything 😀 . Don’t just think through your reasons and motivations to homeschool, though. Write them down! Keep them somewhere you can easily access so that if you start to wonder if you can do this, or why you would want to, you can easily find your reasons and read them over.
For us, our reasons why are:
- To develop relationships with God
- To develop relationships with each other
- To develop good character
- To develop a love for learning
- To develop life skills
Your ‘why’ for homeschooling will inform all of the other decisions you have to make, so really take time to think it out. While you are thinking it through, there are two important things to think about.
Keep the end goal in mind
Close your eyes and imagine that your homeschooling journey is completely over. Your kids are grown and have graduated. What do you want for them? What do you want them to be able to say about their homeschooling experience? How do you envision their future? There is no right or wrong answer here, but it’s important to figure out what YOUR answer is. Also, it’s probably best to think more in generalities than specific details. For example, “my goal is for my children to be able to attend a good college and find a career to support their families” would be helpful whereas, “my goal is for my kids to go to Harvard medical school and become a neurosurgeon” is probably slightly less helpful. You want to have goals for your children that still allow them to choose their own paths in life. For us, our goals are that our children will grow to love God and love others, that they will be prepared to hear and follow God’s calling on their lives, and that they will have the skills necessary to care for themselves and their families. When we consider new curriculum, new schedules, books to read, memberships to purchase, and things like that, we weigh them against the end goal we have for our children. Will these choices help to bring us closer to the end goal? If not, they probably aren’t the best option for our family. Take some time now and consider what you want for your children’s futures.
Focus on faith instead of fear
Several years ago at the OCEANetwork homeschool conference my husband attended a session that really spoke to us. Our key takeaway was that the decision to homeschool needed to be made out of love, not fear. A fear-based decision to homeschool would create an environment of fear, not faith. By making the choice to homeschool because you are afraid of what would happen if you didn’t, you will create a scenario where you are constantly questioning your choices because you fear that something else might be better. Instead, choose to homeschool because you have faith that it is the very best choice for your children. Choose it because you love the idea of homeschooling and you truly believe it is what God is calling you to do. Focusing on your faith in homeschooling rather than your fear of other options keeps your mindset where it needs to be for homeschooling to flourish.
Go to a homeschool conference
Speaking of homeschool conferences, I can’t recommend them enough. If you are at all considering homeschooling, find a conference to attend. Nearly every state homeschool organization hosts an annual conference. Here in Oregon, OCEANetwork hosts an annual conference that my husband and I LOVE! We have gone every year since our oldest was 4. Without fail, we leave every year inspired and encouraged. The speakers uplift us, the vendor hall is full of fun new curriculum to explore, and the Used Curriculum Exchange is a FANTASTIC place to find good deals for the new school year. I’m all but counting down the days until the conference this summer! You will NOT regret going to a conference. It’s the best way to lay a solid, positive foundation for your homeschooling journey.
Come to the 2017 Oregon Christian Home Education Conference June 23-24!
Find the encouragement and support you need for your homeschool! You’ll enjoy amazing speakers including keynote Heidi St. John, a fantastic vendor hall, a used curriculum sale, and activities for the kids!
Now that you know how to create a love-based foundation for your homeschooling journey, come back next week for Homeschooling 101 Part 2: Learn the Legalities where we will start to talk about the ‘rubber meets the road’ part of homeschooling.