The years have flown. It seems like only yesterday we set up our homeschool classroom complete with the Pledge of Allegiance adorned on our wall, desks full of new school supplies, and brand- new shiny workbooks and readers. I was so excited to begin teaching my children but had no idea what this homeschool journey would actually look like….I didn’t know how marvelous and fulfilling it would be or how much it would change our family. As an idealistic and very eager homeschool mom, I did not envision or understand that in addition to my children learning, I would also experience growth and change. The focus was on my children, but now I understand that biblical homeschooling requires the whole family to transform and learn together. In those early days , I heard someone describe homeschooling as a “lifestyle”. I was somewhat puzzled by this description, but now I understand completely.
Undoubtedly, I would be teaching my children reading, writing and arithmetic, but I also would spend a great deal of time praying for patience…. for wisdom and working on character issues…with my children…. and myself. In order to homeschool independently and biblically, the emphasis would have to be on training and discipleship because the Bible is clear on this calling for parents. If our dear children did not obey, how could we ever hope to teach them? We had to choose curriculum carefully making sure it reflected a biblical worldview, and my husband soon became a prayer partner and homeschool advocate as well. Even our dear Grandma joined in to help with some subjects.
Even though I did not realize this, during the first few years, I patterned our day and schedule after the public school system which I was familiar with. I had been indoctrinated into a nanny state mentality which told me how to live; now I needed to re-educate myself. I eventually realized that the greatest learning and growth would come as we allowed Biblical principles to guide our family. Our homeschool journey became more about mentoring, and creating a learning lifestyle in our home 7 days a week than about completing a ton of bookwork. School would not simply take place 180 days a year like the government schools, but “school” or rather learning would be all the time. Homeschooling to us meant living out life together…learning at home or about town each day of the year. Because this mindset was about discipleship, I did not “become” the teacher while we did our schoolwork and then transform to “Mom” after our book work was complete. It was all about mentoring.
Recently a dear Mother from my church inquired about homeschooling. When she asked me about it, I was delighted to respond. I’m quite passionate about homeschooling and eager to share my joy and enthusiasm with those who are interested. Her latest request was about curriculum for the elementary years. Although I always emphasize training and discipleship, I wanted to give her some practical advice as well as philosophy.
When I began homeschooling, I wanted to study about 10 different subjects…I wanted to impart in my 5 year old everything I knew about every subject. My poor son! Oh, how I wish I would have been more relaxed and less academic with my very young son. Even though he was a big boy for his age, he was so little inside. He needed to run and play, and enjoy being five. As an over eager homeschool mom, I wanted to do an exceptional job and show others how smart my children were because I homeschooled them. God forgive me. “Little is more”, during these early years. My advice to a beginning homeschool mom is to enjoy their little ones and focus on other areas besides formal academics at first. At this age children learn so much from playing and living out family life. I could have waited a while to teach reading, math, and writing and spent more time playing, swimming, reading picture books and cuddling. These early years should be about training, instilling good habits, enjoying each other and good old-fashioned fun! In California the legal age to begin school…is 6. I would not recommend beginning formal studies until then….and even then I would only concentrate on Reading/Phonics, Math, Bible/Stories, Reading aloud, and maybe writing if your child is developmentally ready to handle a pencil.
Although I did enjoy the ABeka history in the early elementary years, much of our history and science was taught through reading and discussing good books together. While remembering not to emulate the public school model, do not necessarily match your child’s grade to their curriculum. Begin at an easier level and work up. Learning is the focus not the grade level. Remember that most of what your children will be learning during these early years will come from you reading to them. By far our most rewarding school subject has been our “read-aloud” time. As we read faith and character building books together, discipleship and mentoring takes place.
Homeschooling is an amazing journey especially if you seek the Lord and remain an independent homeschooler free from the demands of a public school program. Enjoy your children….they grow up so fast. Blessings, Anne
Some of the curriculum and helpful resources that I would recommend include:
A Beka Letters and Sounds K
A Beka Language
A Beka Math- (my children enjoyed A Beka for the first 2 years then found Saxon to be a better pace…now we are using teaching textbooks)
Explode the Code Series for Phonics (somewhat slower pace than A Beka plus it is easy and inexpensive)
Ruth Beechick (The Three R’s)- Good advice that takes the apprehension out of teaching reading and phonics. Ruth is wise and grandmotherly and knows that a parent is the best teacher. You will love learning from her!
Early Readers such as the “I can read series” – (Preview for evolution references etc.)
Pathway Readers- These are inexpensive and wholesome.
Frog and Toad Series -You can find these at the library
Christian Light Readers
A Pocketful of Pinecones (a diary look into a homeschool family using the Charlotte Mason philosophy)
Homeschool Enrichment Magazine (encouragement and practical advice)