I remember my first year of homeschooling. It was the year of the OJ Simpson drama, $4.08 movie tickets, and The Lion King hitting theaters. 1994 seems like a long time ago, and I’ve graduated three homeschoolers since then. Yet, I also still have a lo-n-n-n-n-g way to go. After adopting seven kids, I’m still homeschooling … and my youngest is only in first grade!
I’m tackling this upcoming homeschool year differently than in 1994. Mostly because I’ve learned a few things over the years. Here is some simple advice from one mom to another. My hope is that it will make your homeschooling journey turn out easier.
1. Pick a curriculum that will bring you JOY. Consider your child’s unique interests and learning styles. Then, focus on what brings joy to you and your child as you teach. Doing so is what makes homeschooling energizing instead of draining. Mostly, pray and ask God to guide you to the right curriculum, during the right season of your life. I’ve found out that everyone benefits when I’m using a curriculum that’s fun for me and for my kids.
2. Don’t feel as if you have to have everything in place before you start. You’ll never have all your ducks in a row. You will never have all your curriculum planned perfectly. You will never have your homeschool room, books, and supplies perfectly organized. You will never have your schedule all figured out. And even if you do get to that magical place, enjoy it … because it won’t last. Instead of stressing over starting, do your best and just begin. Like my friend Kristi Clover says, you only need to stay one day ahead of your kids!
3. Know that this “schooling” is as much for you as your kids. God will mold you as you serve your family. He will change you as you are a living, breathing model for your kids. Being a model for our children is both an honor and a responsibility. We want our kids to follow in our footsteps, but there are times when we cringe when they do. This is why it is so important to demonstrate love and grace in your home. If you mess up and snap at your child because you have so many things going on at once—as you juggle homeschooling and life—use it as an opportunity to show your kids how to ask for forgiveness. These are important lessons, too!
4. The best “curriculum” is teaching about great men and women of faith. Yes, it’s important our kids know Math, Science, History, and English, but through great biographies they learn about following God, overcoming struggles, and impacting others for good. I choose four or five biographies every year to read to my kids. One of the biographies I’m excited to read this year is Bonhoeffer, Student Edition. I’m excited for them to know more about the man who had the courage to follow his convictions into Nazi Germany and stand up for others because of his radical faith.
5. Homeschooling can make an eternal difference when we focus on Jesus first. The step of faith that we take into homeschooling might just be what will prepare our children to take a faith step with Jesus. I’m thankful this has been true for my older kids. Homeschooling for me has become more than just having fun and being a teacher. Homeschooling has given me the time and space to teach what I know about Jesus, His Word, and the eternity that awaits us all.
Would you like more help and tips about homeschooling? I’d love for you to check out my new book that I wrote with my friend Kristi Clover. Homeschool Basics: How to Get Started, Stay Motivated, and Bring Out the Best In Your Kids! We hope that it will be a help and encouragement on your homeschool journey.
What tips can you offer a newer homeschool mom? Or what is your greatest area of struggle and how can we pray for you?