Years ago we moved out of the city and bought rural six acres. One Friday afternoon my husband phoned from work to inform me that he’d called about a newspaper ad, so there might be someone calling me about goats. What?!! Good thing he warned me, because less than half an hour later the phone rang. Saturday we went and picked up two huge angora wethers (neutered goats). I was thrilled to get these beautiful, fiber-producing goats, but not exactly prepared. Our property wasn’t fenced. We tethered the goats for a few days while pounding T-posts and stretching woven wire. It worked, but could have gone a lot better if we’d planned ahead.
Homeschooling is kinda like that. You can jump right in, but a little preparation ahead of time would be better.
God loves your children and cares about their education. Pray for God’s guidance in how and where your children should be educated. If He directs you to homeschool your children (or to homeschool one of your children while educating another of your children in a different manner), pray for guidance in selecting the most appropriate materials for your learners.
Visit the public library and borrow all the books in the homeschooling section. This will expose you to a number of different homeschooling theories. Only purchase those books that you find yourself borrowing repeatedly. My personal favorites:
- Why Gender Matters, by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.
- Homeschooling for Excellence, by David & Micki Colfax
- Homegrown Kids, by Dr. Raymond Moore
- A Charlotte Mason Education, by Catherine Levison
- Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola
- The Way They Learn, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
- The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer
- All Through the Ages, by Christine Miller
Contact homeschoolers in your area. The internet is great for research, but sometimes it’s nice to meet someone 3D. Good meeting places include public parks, fast-food restaurant play areas, public libraries, and homeschool support group meetings. If you don’t know any homeschoolers, look on the bulletin board at the public library, phone churches to ask if they know any homeschoolers, or ask your state homeschool organization for a local contact (links to state homeschool groups can be found on HSLDA’s website).
Know Your State Law
Local homeschoolers can give you their interpretation of your local law and give you hints on dealing with your school district, but only lawyers can provide legal advice. Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)’s website provides a summary of all state laws.
Your children’s best education will only be attained if you have a plan. Prayerfully determine what your priorities are, then commit your goals to writing. Vague goals are difficult to assess; written goals can easily be reviewed. Every family is unique, so will have unique goals. After goals have been written, plan how to achieve them.
Request catalogs from suppliers of homeschool materials. Consider them carefully, keeping in mind that these catalogs are advertisements for products. The products are supposed to sound good; the company is trying to make sales. My favorites:
- www.christianbookdistributors.com (good, but slow shipping)
- www.timberdoodle.com (lots of fun extras, discounts, but the Pathway books are basal readers to be avoided imho)
When you meet homeschoolers, ask what materials they have and if they’d be willing to show them to you. Every family is unique; the best thing you can do is to pray about your curriculum selections. No matter how good a product looks, do not get it if it does not tie into your goals. Your selections should be made so that your children achieve the goals you have written.
Point to ponder: if you are praying about your curriculum selections and really hearing from God, it should not be necessary to actually see a product. If God is telling you to use something, by all means, use what He says to use, whether you’ve previewed it or not.