Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Advice for New Homeschoolers Part 1

As my middle child begins college and empty-nest syndrome goes up a notch, I’m painfully reminded of the four short years I have left of this adventure known as homeschooling. As I look at moms just starting out on this journey it seems like only yesterday my three youngsters were underfoot, and my life was disorganized chaos trying to educate my most precious treasures. I recognize that panicked look in new homeschooling moms’ eyes and I have a few things I want to say to them, things I’ve divided into two lists: “Looking back on 14 years of homeschooling I’m glad I ….” And “I wish I had…..”

Looking back on 14 years of homeschooling I’m glad I….

  • Made a list of reasons why I homeschool. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God was calling us to this task when our oldest was about to begin second grade. However, I knew there would be days I’d question the sanity of obedience and would be glad for those reminders that first year. I was right.

  • Read aloud, a lot! I read aloud to all three children from the time they were tiny until….well, I haven’t really stopped. Books are gateways to other places, times, and ideas. Traveling there with your children is one of life’s greatest joys and a way to painlessly learn about all sorts of things. Many of our “adventures” were read by Cassie as I sewed and Candace colored or played with her cat.

  • Tried different curriculums. There are a plethora of curriculum choices and educational ideas out there. While the choices can be overwhelming, they are also freeing. One child likes textbooks and workbooks. Another likes researching interesting topics. One likes Saxon Math while another despises it. The beauty of home education is finding what fits each child and you. The possibilities are endless.

  • Discovered notebooking and copywork. This will also go under the “I wish I had…” section. I wish I had discovered notebooking and copywork sooner, but Cindy Rushton, the notebook queen, was a young homeschool mom herself at the time I was beginning, so it wasn’t available when I first started. (Actually, I didn’t even have internet that first year!) But I eventually did discover these concepts and found them to be effective and stress relieving. These are especially great techniques for those early years. (Check out

  • Realized all kids don’t have to be able to read by age 5. Everyone has their own gifts, talents, and abilities. Just because they haven’t mastered certain skills by certain ages doesn’t mean they won’t. I figure it’s ok if a 20 year old can only read at an 18 year old level.

  • Found a support group. This was vital to my survival. There were a few years in our life journey when we weren’t involved with other like-minded educators. It was tough! Even after 14 years I need the encouragement, friendship, and new ideas a homeschool support group gives.

  • Let the tadpoles take over our inflatable swimming pool. We had baby frogs everywhere that summer! I just don’t believe a traditional classroom could match the excitement and learning that came from checking on hundreds of tadpoles and watching their development every day for weeks

  • Realized somethings are more important than “Book Learning”. Some of those things include adventures with grandparents, nature walks, taking pictures of butterflies and tadpoles, helping those in need, getting along with siblings, balancing a checkbook, holding down a job, and helping around the house.

  • Let Kyle bounce a ball while spelling words and Candace learn phonics while swinging. In other words, I’m glad I realized that learning doesn’t have to take place in a desk in a school room. A public school teacher can’t allow 25 students to bounce each letter of their words, but you can.

  • Let the kids keep caterpillars of all kinds and watched them hatch out.

  • Let Candace help me in the kitchen. In the very, very beginning she wasn’t much “help”. But she was a good companion and is now great in the kitchen. We have lots of fun and she’s learned a lot about real-life math.

  • Stuck with it and didn’t give up. It has been trying and difficult at times. We’ve had years when we accomplished much and years when we barely scraped by. There have been days I felt desperate for “me” time and now there are days I tear up at the thought of not doing this anymore. But I’ve never, never, never regretted this decision to not only teach, but nurture my children and rediscover the wonders of life and nature with them.

    I'll post "I Wish I Had" soon.

    Be blessed!
  • Sunday, August 2, 2009

    Do we see? Do we believe? Do we really care?

    The truth is either
    …we think the public school system is just fine the way it is.
    …we don’t believe in the power of prayer.
    …we just don’t care.

    Today the Simpson County Baptist Association prayer-walked around the public schools in the county.

    I didn’t want to go. My reasons?

    · I homeschool which means I don’t have kids in the public school system.
    · It might mess up my afternoon nap.
    · I’ve already been at church 2 ½ hours and will go back tonight for another 2 hours. Isn’t that enough?
    · I’ve got things to do.
    · It’s hot and muggy.

    But I did go. Not because I’m super spiritual. Not because God tugged at my heart. Not because “one person can make a difference”. Can I be honest here? I went because I thought it would look bad if the “pastor’s wife” didn’t go.

    I’m glad I went.

    I’m glad I went because God did lay some conviction on my heart:

    • Someone important enough to have a key to the building cared enough to have his/her school prayed over. I should be thankful for that and pray for that person to have continued courage and strength.

    • The spirits of darkness and oppression are already in the building just waiting to pry on young hearts. Can’t I take an hour of my time to ask God to pour His light into that darkness? Can’t I intercede on behalf of children who may not have an intercessor?

    • I may not have children in the public school system, but it’s not about “me and mine”. I have friends with children there, and my community will one day be impacted by the promising doctors, lawyers, politicians, nurses, teachers, civil servants, artists, writers, and business people who are current students. Shouldn’t I pray for them to be godly men and women? And what about the potential prison inmates, drug dealers, addicts, under achievers, drifters, alcoholics, and suicide-attempters who are also there. Shouldn’t I pray for intervention?

    • Either we as Baptists are blind to the situation of the public school system, don’t believe in the power of prayer to affect change, or we simply just don’t care. There are 44 Southern Baptist churches in Simpson County, yet only about 30 adults showed up to pray around the Magee City Schools. That’s not even one per church! I realize many, like us, chose to pray around the local school, but surely, surely in Magee, MS there are more than 30 church members. More than 30 people who didn’t have to tend to some crisis or another. More than 30 who are able-bodied. More than 30 who really, truly see the battle, believe in the cure, and want to be involved in the fight.
    We say we believe in prayer.
    We say the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)
    We say prayer changes things.
    We say all things are possible with God. (Matthew 19:26)

    But what do we do?

    “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

    “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

    So, if the crime, suicide, un-wed pregnancy, drug abuse, and drop-out rates increase in Magee, MS who is to blame?