One of the perks of homeschooling is that you can tailor everything to fit you and your family. Unfortunately, it can be a drawback. No one else's home will look like yours. No one can decide what is best for your family except you, your spouse, and the Lord.
Don’t get discouraged if you’ve felt the pain of failure. Failure is an excellent motivator for change and can be the best way to put aside grand plans and turn hearts to God. Get up, try again. There is more the Lord wants to teach you. And He will take care of your kids. Put all the burdens of guilt, expectation, over-analyzation, comparison, and self-doubt on His shoulders and simply ask, “What do You want me to do?” Then go and do.
In this article I’ll share some ideas that may help you discover God’s plan for your family this year, giving you confidence to move forward.
1. Give yourself plenty of time to ponder and explore.
Start early in the summer. Attend conferences, talk to other homeschooling moms and get informed about resources that might benefit your family. Find out what is available in your community in terms of co-ops, classes and activities. Join your city’s homeschool facebook page. Get a general idea of what your budget will be and plan accordingly. You don’t have to make any commitments. Planning your year is a revelatory process. As you know, revelation does not come easily or quickly; make sure you allow plenty of time.
If you are starting this process in September, or the middle of the school year, don’t rush it. Relax. Give your kids a break and take the time you need to make a good plan. It will be time well spent.
2. Decide what your philosophy of education is.
Don’t worry if you don’t know yet. This is an ongoing process you will continue to refine. It involves reading books, talking to friends and, most importantly, personal experience. As you embark on this journey, you will begin to see what methods ring true for your family and what works with your personality. Here is a list of books I recommend to new homeschoolers. This list highlights a variety of good educational methods that are tried and true. Each has its own wisdom. As you come across principles that touch you, write them down. You don’t have to subscribe to one particular method, but you will probably find one that speaks to you more than others.
3. Choose what subjects you are going to cover.
Math, Language Arts, History and Science are the basics. But there are more. Grammar, Logic, Poetry, Latin, PE, Geography, Foreign Language, Nature Study, Art, Music, Art History, Speech and Debate, Literature, Handicrafts, Sports, Coding, Handwriting, Typing, Religion, Life Skills, Health... the list goes on and on!
As appealing as all of these are, choose only one or two each year to focus on, especially for elementary school kids. Pick the ones that fit your family. If you speak Spanish or play an instrument, teach that to your kids. If not, let it go for now. (Or better yet, start learning it on your own so you can teach it later!) When they get older, they will find special interests and can choose their focus. It’s helpful for me to remember that I am not going to be their only teacher in life. If they have a special talent or mission, I have faith that God will guide me toward it or provide another mentor for them.
You also might find ways to incorporate the secondary subjects into your Basic 4. For instance, you can easily add elements of art, geography and poetry into history without making them entirely separate subjects. You may even find curricula that does it for you.
4. Find curricula, co-ops, and outside activities you will do as a family.
Now you can bring in all those resources you’ve gathered. List your subjects in order of importance. Look at the curricula you like and see how often they recommend studying each subject during the week. Things to consider when choosing a curriculum:
Then consider what activities/subjects will happen outside your home. Co-ops and community classes are everywhere. We live in a time where homeschooling is popular and, depending on your city, there are probably several options. Ask around, look into your local museums. It’s important that you and your kids get out and interact with other homeschoolers regularly. Find a community that will accept Mormons not just technically, but will respect and value your contribution.
5. Make a typical week’s calendar.
You do not have to use this calendar during the school year, or even look at it ever again. Putting together a calendar will help you see if all the things you have planned are humanly possible. Decide how much time each subject gets for each child, including study time. Place them in order of priority, then add them as a block of time to your calendar
Don’t over schedule! Especially if you have babies and toddlers. They will resist the schedule on all sides and you must build in time for unexpected adventures. Leave enough time for each subject that everyone can take a nice breath in between. The younger your kids are, the more simple your schedule will be. For kids under 8, you may even block out a couple of hours labeled “School” where you just do enriching activities until the time is up. Make sure there is plenty of play time. As they get older and more independent, it will help if there are specific subjects they are doing at certain times. And it will help you discern if they are on track or not.
In my home, elementary school goes from 8-noon, with piano in the afternoon. My 8th and 9th graders are scheduled from 8am-4pm. That includes lunch, piano and outside classes.
Remember your educational philosophies and the goals you have for your family in general. Give the most important things priority. It’s easy for forget when faced with details.
6. Fast and Pray. Allow the Lord to give you reassurance; You’re going to need it!
1 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
How are you feeling right now? If you don’t feel comfortable with your plan, backup. The last thing you want is to get halfway through the semester and have to change everything. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but it can be extremely disruptive.
What you do want to have is a peaceful assurance that your plan is good and that it will work (at least for now!). There will be days when you want to throw everything out the window (including your kids!), but with a well thought out plan, you can stop, take a breath and make rational decisions that stem from power, not fear.
Hi! I'm Rachael, a homeschool mom of 7 kids from high school to toddler and everything in between. I live just outside of Omaha NE.
About this Blog
Since 2015 I have been involved with the HHE Youth and Family Education Conference in the Midwest. This blog is a way for us to bring the Conference right to your home. Every week I'll deliver a little bit of the HHE Conference right to you when you need it.
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