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Homeschooling For Beginners

You may be surprised that you're actually considering the idea of homeschooling right now. You never imagined this possibility. But, in the middle of a pandemic, you're praying about it.

You may have thought about homeschooling before the current crisis, and the changing times are now trying to convince you that you're ready to embrace the adventure.

The decision to homeschool your children is a big deal--worthy of your best thoughts.

Whether you're considering homeschool for the first time ever or agreeing with a hunch you've felt in your gut for a long time, you need some guidance. Let's navigate the important decisions you must make when you take charge of your child's education.

This blog post is the first in a series, offering you a guidebook to homeschooling for beginners.

Step-by-step, this series of blog posts will walk you through:

  • important decisions you need to make before you begin,

  • how to find the legal guidelines you need to feel at ease,

  • the important supplies you'll need--and won't need, for you and your children,

  • inspiring ideas for setting up your "classroom" at home,

  • important decisions before choosing your curriculum,

  • help for deciding which subjects you'll teach and which ones will happen with online instruction,

  • how to keep relationships your first priority,

  • how to keep your sanity, and who to ask for help when you need it.

Let's start with step one.

WHY do you want to homeschool?

After years of helping homeschool moms, many of them started homeschooling because they knew the answer to this question: "What do you NOT want for your child's education?"

Many parents don't want the limits of the standardized curriculum offered at public schools. Some need to get away from an environment of bullying or negative peer pressure.

Knowing what you DON'T want in an educational experience for your children is important. But, knowing what you DO want is even more important.

Imagine your child a year from now...five years from now...ten years from now. Imagine your child as an adult.

Think about the kind of person you want your child to become.

  • Do you want your child to be successful at all costs? Is the rigor of the academic experience what's most important?

  • Do you want to help your child cross a finish line? Do you want to help them graduate from high school? or simply have a successful experience in elementary school?

  • Do you want to help your child grow up and enjoy healthy relationships as well as be equipped for the future, academically and beyond?

There are good reasons to answer YES to any of the questions listed above. And, there are good reasons to answer NO.

Consider this analogy.

When we lived full-time in an Airstream travel trailer, our kitchen was great! And, it was very, very small. We didn't have room for a long list of pantry items. We had limited space for spices, too.

My husband and I both enjoy cooking. We love cookbooks that inspire us to create beautiful and delicious food. But, our tiny had kitchen didn't have room for a collection of cookbooks.

One day, I had a great idea!

My daughter-in-love gave me Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Table cookbook for my birthday. YUM! The recipes were amazing.

We decided to set up our kitchen in our Airstream simply around this one book--a collection of great recipes.

Joanna includes a list of pantry items and spices at the beginning of the cookbook. She also has a list of tools, such as spatulas, knives, baking sheets, and cooking dishes.

We looked at the lists and stocked our kitchen carefully.

The only things that found a home in our tiny Airstream kitchen were the ingredients and tools listed in the Magnolia Table cookbook. When we wanted to create one of the beautiful recipes we had what we needed.

Ah, the joy of beautiful cooking!

There was only one problem.

We never stopped to consider what we would look like if we ate every meal as if we were dining at Joanna Gaines's fabulous restaurant.

The pounds started piling on. The cravings for bread and sweets that we'd lost during a season of Whole30 came back. The guilt came back, too.

We'd made a good choice. We picked a great cookbook. But, when we made our plan for every day, we hadn't looked into the future. We never thought about the potential consequences. We were simply excited about all the delicious goodness!

Homeschooling can be much like cooking--and eating.

Even though the cookbook--or curriculum guide--looks amazing, the journey on what seems to be a delightful path may have some potentially lifelong consequences.

So, it's important to know WHY you're deciding to homeschool. And, it's important to look into the future and imagine the life your child will live if you follow one path or another.

Choose a path that offers your child a full and free life--now, and as an adult.

What might be the unintended consequences of this choice, instead of another?

If you're not sure, have a conversation with someone you trust. Pray about the possible answers to this question. Journal your thoughts.

And, trust yourself. God has designed you with good parental instincts. You know what your child needs. God will equip you to do what He invites you to embrace!

Homeschooling may be the journey that meets your child's needs better than any other educational choice. THIS is a reason to say YES!

Congratulations! You've made the first and most important decision about homeschooling. You know WHY you're going to homeschool and you've thought carefully about what kind of future your child will get to enjoy.

These decisions now serve as a plumbline for the other choices you'll make next about curriculum, school supplies, scheduling, your homeschool environment, and the kind of record-keeping that can support your purpose.

Now that you've decided your WHY--

What are your state's guidelines for homeschooling?

This question is important, even if it's not as fun as shopping for great books and school supplies. The fun part is coming soon!

Knowing your state's guidelines is vital and relatively easy to research. These links will help you get started:

What's next?

In the 2nd post in this series, we'll discuss the importance of building a support team and finding a community to help you in your homeschool adventure. I'll share some ideas about choosing curriculum, too. Follow this link to find the "What's next?" post.

The third post in this series will share some practical ideas about the school supplies you'll need--and the ones you don't need to buy.

We'll start thinking about designing a homeschool environment that aligns with your WHY and the future you're building for your child.

Until then, I invite you to visit my website at John 15 Academy is an online co-learning community that exists to strengthen families and repurpose education.

On this site, you'll find a link to a free webinar designed to help you map out a reliable response when you're the teacher and your child is struggling. Follow this link to learn more: How To Help Your Child Learn To Struggle Well.

Here's another great resource: a video I made for Learning Success about the power of expectations on learning:

And, this, too: My book has some great insights into the history of education in our country and a clear and practical roadmap for repurposing education. Order your copy today!

I'm so proud of you! You're wrestling with important decisions in a thoughtful and intentional way. Your child's future looks bright. There is great hope!


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