School at Home

Each Thursday, I will do my best to answer your questions. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I know it's not easy being a wife and mother. It can be frustrating and discouraging, yet very rewarding. I'd be glad to listen to you, pray for you, and share some of my thoughts with you.

So, ask me something... anything...

Dear Vonnie,

We know without a doubt we are meant to home-school our children this year. The closer we get, the more anxious I am. I don’t feel equipped at all. Any advice? We have prayed and prayed and feel this is the direction we are to take this year.

Feeling Inadequate

I remember the year our family was in that place. Our budget was being strained with the birth of a new baby, and the Christian school tuition was raised. We didn't want to send our kids to the public school. It was time to home-school.

I, too, was wondering if I could handle it, but I had some friends that had been this route for awhile and gave me lots of advice and encouragement. There are quite a few good curriculums out there, especially now, with DVD's and satellite classes. The first year, I used a hodge-podge of "hand-me-down" books, but then opted for Rod N' Staff for the younger children and Christian Light for the older ones. Here are some other good ones: ABeka, Sonlight , Bob Jones , Christian Liberty, ACE

Some parents that feel anxious about the responsibility of teaching everything, choose to follow a curriculum to the letter, sending their tests in to be graded. They like the idea of being accountable to an administrator. I was more at ease at just using their material and keeping my own records and schedule.

With a big family (7 of school age) I decided we needed to structure our time. We started our day at 8 AM with the salute to the flag, Bible reading and memorization, and prayer. I didn't require them to be dressed. (some opted to stay in PJ's until noon) Hey, it's home-school! On snow-days, I let them start later, so they could either play or shovel for the neighbors in the morning. But that was the exception. I found that if we got too lax on our schedule, the lessons didn't get done.

We used our dining room table, but many people designate one room as their schoolroom. Either way, it's nice to keep your materials organized in desks or shelves. Have maps, dictionaries, encyclopedias, computers, and other research tools readily available. Teach your children to use them often. Colleges have noticed that home-schooled children are more independent and study better.

I learned it worked best to have one child work on their spelling or penmanship while I listened to another one read or work on a new concept in mathematics. One of my older sons like to do a whole chapter in one subject/day instead of a little bit of each subject.

Most of the time, if your child applies himself, he can be done with his daily studies by noon. I would reward them if they didn't goof-off and waste their time. I had "Speeding Tickets". If they finished by lunch, they could punch a hole. Twenty holes could be redeemed by time alone with Mama. I also had a reading ticket. For every twenty books read (according to their level) I would purchase a new one for them.

There are so many advantages of homeschooling. First of all, you KNOW what is being taught. Secondly, you can incorporate daily life (shopping, gardening, cooking, etc.) into teaching opportunities. Also, you have the freedom to travel or take time for Bible conferences or get involved in volunteer programs in your community. You can often find good music teachers, that prefer to teach during the day instead of evenings. Older children can often have time to hold a job in the afternoons and evenings.

There are some disadvantages. Sometimes, home-schooled children feel "left out" or different. Try to find a home-school group or another family you can do things together with. Participate in local sports or join the YMCA. Visit your library and get involved in their programs. Many public and Christian schools let homeschoolers participate in their extra curricular activities.

Enjoy this time with your children. Look forward to it with anticipation and excitement.

Are there any other home-school mothers with some words of encouragement or advice?


Lydia said...

Hi Mama! I shared this post with a woman in my church who started teaching her daughters at home for the first time this year. She is excited to start and will appreciate the encouragement!

Patty Wysong said...

hmmm. I use Abeka across the board for the younger ones, until they can move into Saxon Math 54, then it's Saxon until the end. For the older ones I use Apologia Science (Jr. High & High school). I've heard BJU's high school history is better than Abeka--but I had Abeka so that's what we're using.

I have friends that looooooove Sonlight and have used it for years.

If you're just starting? Make sure you know this is what God wants you to do because it's not for the faint hearted!! It's a lot of work, time and it's constant. The beauty of home school is that you can tailor it to fit your family and the specific needs you have.

Organization is key. If you have multiple kids, organize and do your lesson plans in such a way that you can pull them out and reuse them for each younger child. It will save you hours of work!

Home schooling can be unstructured in a very structured way. LoL--an oxymoron, but true. I give my older kids their books, set some requirements, and let them do the work as they want. We have checks and balances, but it's up to them to get the work done in the set time. It's working great and they're learning responsibility in general as well as to be responsible for their own education.

Proverbs 27:19 said...

I left my fears overcome me and ended up sending my kids to public school.


Dee Yoder said...

I homeschool one teen son. We've used mostly Abeka and have switched to Saxon Math for Algebra and Trig.
We have a "traditional" classroom, and follow a traditional schedule. One of the reasons I did this was that my son had Asperger's Syndrome, and since he had started school in a Christian classroom environment, it was best for him to continue in that manner. But that doesn't mean we stay at school all day! He finishes his classes usually in less than 4 hours. We often take time to go on field trips, and even joined a field trip club. We use many outside resources (library, Internet, local events) to round out our days. We both love homeschooling!

Anonymous said...

I have been homeschooling for 10 years now, and every year I think, "How can I do this??" For me, it's all about learning to TRUST God at His word. If you have prayed about it, and you KNOW that this is what God wants for your family, then He will give you the grace, the wisdom, and the strength to do it. Trust Him. And I often remind myself that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. At the end of the school year, I want to be able to say, "God worked through me this year to accomplish things in my children's lives that only HE could do. Praise the Lord!"

Vonnie said...

Linda Handzel wrote me:

We're entering our 21st year of home-schooling. I've found it profoudly rewarding!! Our 1st three children have all received highest honors in college. (I didn't home-school college.)

Yvonne did a great job outlining the concept, I don't think I could top her. I was the type to follow a curriculum, and a schedule. I found as Yvonne did that deviating from the set schedule could often be self-defeating. The only thing you need to be able to do to home-school is read, and follow directions!

The more afraid you are at first, the more I'd recommend a set curriculum. You can follow their plan, and be confident at the end of every day that you did fine!!

One thing I'd recommend that Yvonne didn't mention is that you consider yourself a 'busy' woman, and don't be afraid to take short-cuts with other house-hold items, like meal preparation. You won't be able to do it all!!

Also, we've incorporated meal preparation as part of our learning. The students each took turns learning how to make meals. The meals were as complex as the grade level allowed.

With prayer and consistency, your students will do just fine!!


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