A peanut allergy. That was the catalyst that began 17 years of homeschooling. Initially we did not want to put my 5 year old in Kindergarten because the local Christian school was going to make him eat his lunch isolated in a separate classroom. What an introduction to school!
We were actually on a business trip with my husband, staying in staff housing when I began my first homeschooling day. When my two year old daughter said, “I want to do school too!”, how could I refuse that? Out came the plastic tub filled with markers, flash cards, playdough and two little ABC workbooks that I purchased at the dollar store.
Grade one came around and I now had another little one. It just seemed easier to keep homeschooling. We connected into a homeschool group, participated in play groups and field trips, and were enjoying being together. Some days were trying and exhausting while others were wonderfully rewarding.
My advice to someone who is contemplating homeschooling, or just starting out on the journey, would be to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. For us, the catalyst was a peanut allergy but really I felt that God had been tugging on my heart long before that.
Talk to people who are already on the journey. Seek out other families that are homeschooling. Watch them and see how their families operate. Do you want what they have? Homeschooling is more than education. It’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s not for everyone. I chose not to go back to working outside of my home. Raising my children and homeschooling became my career and my ministry….it was my calling in life for that season. Make sure your heart is in it.
In most cities it is not difficult to find a homeschooling group. Larger centers will have many. Ask around and try one or two out to see if it feels like the right fit for you. A good homeschooling group is invaluable. There, you will find a wealth of information; probably too much! Take what you need, leave the rest and guard your heart against comparing yourself to others.
Homeschool groups can be wonderful for mentorship, extra-curricular activities for your children and even co-op teaching. When my children were younger, we did science fairs, gymnastics, homeschool hockey, swimming lessons and Christmas parties. Sometimes we would join other families to study certain units. We ate our way through the middle ages, learned about Shakespeare by putting on the play Julius Caesar complete with a Roman Feast. We even experienced horseback riding for the first time through a field trip. We toured every possible business, police station, hospital, fire station and government institution for the sake of educational field trips. The smaller the town you live in, the more creative your group will have to be.
One of the keys to successful homeschooling is fostering the love of learning into your children’s hearts and minds. Explore what interests them. Chose a teaching method that works for you as a teacher, for your family and for your lifestyle. If you live on a farm, your experience will differ from someone who lives in a large center. Do not compare yourself to other families. That is the biggest mistake and a very easy thing to do. Remember, I started out with two “dollar store” ABC books, markers and playdough. Start out simply, seeking God for guidance and He will not lead you astray.