It can be overwhelming when you first decide to homeschool your children. Questions abound – what curriculum should you choose, which one is the best? Should I use textbooks or go with computer-based learning? Do I need lots of supplemental materials? What if I forget to include something important? It is easy to become discouraged before you even begin.
So where do we start? Every Adventist family should first prayerfully study the idea of Christian education and develop a personal homeschool philosophy. What are your family’s spiritual and academic goals? How do your spiritual goals affect the academic ones? Next, parents should observe their children and examine how they learn. Are your children hands-on learners or do they learn best by hearing information? Does your child memorize things set to music? Why start with these two ideas? When you have personal homeschool standards in mind and an understanding of how your children learn, then you can more easily evaluate curriculum and materials. For instance, if you have studied and decided not to use fiction as part of your family’s learning and you also know that your child is an auditory learner – now you can narrow down your curriculum choices based on those personal guidelines. You now know specifically what you are looking for in a math program or history curriculum. Don’t choose curriculum based solely on others recommendations- develop your own personal homeschool convictions first and couple it with an understanding of how your child learns. Only then should you begin to use the recommendations of others.
One of the blessings of reading the books Education, Child Guidance and other Spirit of Prophecy books on education is that we learn that education for young children does not start out at full-tilt, with a full day packed with a complicated curriculum with six or seven subjects. When you consider most families are starting homeschooling with one or more “littles” under the oldest, that is a wonderful burden lifted off of a mother’s back! Bible and nature study are a child’s first subjects. Those are subjects that don’t leave out the younger children, all can join in. Formal subjects are added later, a little at a time with short, interesting lessons. Easing into homeschooling gives a family time to enjoy the transition towards a lifestyle of learning.
What if you are pulling an older child out of school to begin homeschooling? The advice is still the same. If a child is leaving a traumatic classroom situation or is discouraged about his/her learning abilities and education, a time of ‘deschooling’ may be of great help. Deschooling is a time to forgo formal studies and regroup. How much time? Depends on your family. Spend time on topics of interest to the student. Get outdoors for some extended nature study. Create a new learning routine and develop new learning habits. In the meantime, develop a homeschool philosophy for your older student, find his/her learning style and use that information to create a set of educational goals.
Starting the homeschool journey does not have to be a stressful experience. Ask God to guide you as you first study and then create or choose a program that fits your needs. The vast amount of homeschooling materials available can seem overwhelming, but take a deep breath; a slow and steady start to homeschooling can and will win the race.