HOW CAN YOU BEGIN HOMESCHOOLING? START!
By Jessica Hulcy
The best way to begin home schooling is to activate the five-letter word, START. So often, parents who truly desire to teach their children at home say, "I am not trained. I am not smart enough. I will ruin my children!" If God places a burden on a person’s heart, He will provide the means to accomplish that burden. The same God who provided manna and quail for the Israelites in the desert will surely provide parents with the skills, knowledge, direction, and yes, even patience to teach their own children, if they desire.
Once parents trust, where do they begin? Most parents begin by attending a book fair to shop for curriculum. This is akin to grocery shopping for the entire year without a list or a menu plan. Instead of standing at a vendor’s table asking how much a particular curriculum costs, parents would be better served sitting at home talking about each child and setting individual goals and objectives for them. Public and private school teachers face a classroom of twenty to thirty students, making it very difficult to individualize. Since most home schooling families are smaller than that, it is possible to tailor the curriculum to each child.
Every year, my husband and I set goals in four areas for each of our children: academic skills, physical skills, work skills, and character/spiritual development goals. Home school allows the whole child to be taught in every aspect of his life, not merely the academic. The people who love the child the very most (the parents) plot a game plan for their child. The 'scope and sequence' is the state’s 12-year game plan for what will be taught (scope) and when it will be taught (sequence) to the students. Public and private schools must follow the scope and sequence exactly, because students are constantly changing teachers.
Adapt Academic Scope
In home school, there is a single teacher who can certainly keep track of what each child has covered. This allows greater flexibility with the sequence. Why wait until 7th grade to teach Texas history if you are going on a family trip around Texas? I have successfully taught Texas history to a 4th grader, a 7th grader, and a 9th grader [altogether]. Flexible sequencing takes advantage of all life’s events.
Home school parents should first set goals, second recognize the scope, and finally choose curriculum. Parents often remark of their own education that, although they made good grades, they actually remember little. How sad it is to have spent all that time covering material yet not learning. Most parents’ education consisted of reading the chapter and answering questions at the end. When choosing curriculum, parents should consider which methods foster better learning.
Consider Curriculum Methods
One need not be an educational expert to recognize that multi-sensory, hands-on curriculum bombards the child with information through all his senses, thereby increasing retention. However, if a child needs drill with spelling or math facts, parents should select workbooks that give ample opportunity to practice until perfect. I believe parents should never use a whole workbook; rather, they should assign only those pages the child needs and toss the rest of the workbook. The curriculum should be tailored to the child’s needs, not the next workbook page.
Consider Curriculum Content
Equally important as curriculum method is curriculum content. Most home schoolers want curriculum taught from a Christian worldview, yet they are unsure of what that entails. Many curricula tout a Christian worldview because they have sprinkled Bible verses here and there or have included the life of Christ in their history. A Christian worldview, however, involves training children in the process of sifting all of life’s learning and decisions through a Christian worldview sieve. The worldview sieve is constructed from sound biblical teaching designed to train students in "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5).
Consider Curriculum That Mentors
Finally, a parent needs to select a curriculum that involves her as a mentor/teacher who dialogues with her child rather than simply grades his papers. This dialogue process not only builds critical thinkers, but also builds the ultimate goal of home schooling – a lifetime relationship between parent and child.
Jessica Hulcy, co-author of KONOS Character Curriculum, has home schooled her four boys with her husband Wade since 1982.